|Photo by Jack Gould|
When Jason Seward came to town in 1997 to pursue a graduate degree in public administration at USC, he didn’t plan on staying. Then a series of fortuitous political connections led to an internship in county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke’s office. After a year the Indiana native was offered a permanent job as a deputy; he took it, and at 22 became one of the youngest people in Burke’s office ever to hold the position, which he still has today.
That could easily be the end of the story — Midwestern boy makes good in L.A. — but for the infectiously energetic Seward, it was just the beginning. Rather than rest on a golden opportunity that came his way, he was determined to re-create it for other minority college graduates who, he says, have degrees but often little direction to go along with them. Two years ago, Seward launched the Millennium Momentum Foundation, a nonprofit that offers scholarships, paid internships and professional mentoring to college grads of color in Southern California looking to work in public policy or in socially conscious areas of the private sector.
Millennium established itself in an impressively short amount of time: Its national board of directors ranges from financial types to black-studies professors, and its first annual benefit bash, on November 4 at Disney Concert Hall, features pop-music heavies such as Isaac Hayes and Howard Hewitt (www.millennium-momentum.org). Beneath the glitter, however, lies Seward’s old-fashioned directive of helping the next generation seize the opportunities promised by pro-diversity movements and the fact that minorities are increasingly becoming the majority in America.
“I want to live my legacy now, not later,” says Seward. “This is my passion, being a vehicle to move other people forward. I’ll be doing this the rest of my life.”