Decker Ngongang, Class 27 (October 2011)

Decker Ngongang, director of community engagement and organizing for Communities for Teaching Excellence, is a graduate of Leadership Charlotte Class 27… In his own words: “the best class!” He is from Charlotte, NC and currently resides in Washington, DC.

What’s happened since you graduated? During LC, I was a Compliance / Risk Manager at Bank of America. After graduation I realized I wanted to do this work of the community full time, so I resigned from the bank and launched the Charlotte branch of GenerationEngage. I later moved to DC to become the Executive Director and merged the organization with, which continues to serve young people across the country and has strong ties in Charlotte. Earlier this year, I was approached about helping to launch a project of the Gates Foundation, working in communities to implement effective teaching reforms. I now run our community engagement initiatives. I also just returned from training college students in Cairo, Egypt…amazing!!

Hottest news topic that fires you up: Education. It’s a knowledge economy and in America we don’t know as much as we should. It’s not surprising our economy is struggling; you can’t end a recession by printing more money and you can’t fix education by passing more tests. There is a culture shift that has to happen. We must grow multiple elements of our society to fix our economy and education system.

Favorite LC Program Day or favorite LC memory: During the opening retreat, I sat next to Curt Fochtmann. I was intimidated because I was 24 years old and thought I didn’t have the resume to be in the room with these people. At one point I got to hear Curt talk about being a father and how important his boys were to him. It really let me know this experience was about more than something on my resume.

Hot leadership idea for our country (or Charlotte): Put a young person on philanthropic and corporate boards.

thoughts: Having traveled to many cities in my current job, there is something special in Charlotte. We must always take advantage of the intentional community there.  There are a lot of people in Charlotte who genuinely care about making this world better and Charlotte needs to maintain a space for these souls to continue to do that precious work. Charlotte is also dangerous because it is comfortable. We should focus on always maintaining a healthy agitation for those things about our community, society, and world that are unjust…. even when they are not our problem. I dearly miss my hometown and look forward to that time when the wind or a Bojangles™ biscuit brings me back to the QC.

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