Through our work we have had the good fortune of seeing firsthand how success comes in every shape, size, color, faith, and orientation. More importantly we’ve learned that success is often the result of people embracing their unique backgrounds and so we’ve asked the community to tell us about their background and how it has impacted where they are today.

Sumiyyah Harvey | Founder & Head Baker

I am from the East Coast, a fairly even split between NY/NJ/VA. But my parents owned several bakeries throughout my childhood in both Virginia Beach & Norfolk, Virginia. Growing up in a family owned business had a significant impact on who I am today. I learned the importance of hospitality and that having an amazing product wasn’t enough. My parents made sure I understood it wasn’t enough to get them in the door, we need to keep them coming back, otherwise we can’t eat. And so those are some of the lessons I’ve brought with me to my own bakery. Building relationships with my customers and being an active part of the community are integral parts of who we are, and I have my upbringing to thank for that. Read more>>

Miriam Valencia | Real Estate Agent

I was born in California, but my family is from Mexico. We were raised with the reminder that we come from a hard-working nation and to never be embarrassed of our roots. Knowing where I come from has always encouraged me to never give up. I put myself through college-sometimes working two jobs at once to make sure my school and bills were paid. Now that I have a daughter, I work even harder than before to make sure that she won’t ever worry about paying for school and have a great education. Read more>>

Kevin Bruno | Photographer & Independent Filmmaker

I’m from Houston, Tx. My childhood was a troubled one and as a result, I found myself in trouble with the law in my early adulthood. That trouble eventually led to my incarceration which lasted, in two different terms, an accumulative 28 years. Leaving prison in 2010, I’d made some wholesale changes in my personality and decision making that allowed me to function pretty much as a normal citizen. There were and continue to be drawbacks as a result of the stigma attached to anyone who has served time but I continue to grow and prosper. I think the most amazing part in all of this is the fact that after years of incarceration I now work as a Reentry Specialist for the largest Prison Ministry in the country, Prison Fellowship Ministries. My office is inside of the same prison that I once served time in and was released from in 2010. My job entails working with men who are a part of Prison Fellowship’s Academy program in order to prepare them for release. Read more>>

Anna Catalano | Board Director

I’m the daughter of immigrants who came to this country as students from China. They came just as the communists were taking over, but had every hope of returning back at some point, but never could. I grew up in Kansas City — with no extended family, but our parents had a network of friends and our home was always filled for holidays and special occasions. As immigrants, my parents raised us on some basic principles: (1) The importance of education and effort. They came with very little but were highly educated and worked very hard. As a result, I always felt as though anything was achievable through hard work, effort, and sacrifice. College was not an option, and I find myself even today, as a lifelong learner — never losing the spark of curiosity and inquisition. (2) The value of family. Because we had no extended family, our parents and me and my three sisters are very close-knit and have instilled that sense of family in our now extended families of our own. Read more>>