Essen Otu (he/him)
Essen reached a point in his career where he knew he wouldn’t progress without furthering his education. When his boss told him he needed to get a Master’s, Essen knew he needed more than just a degree. In search of mentorship and community, he found a program that would clarify his path forward, in his career and in his life.
“The NUF experience solidified a clear direction for me in my career.”
Essen spent years pursuing a career in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), but felt his impact was limited to the four walls of an institution. He believed in the power of DEI to transform communities and wanted to accelerate his impact but needed to be positioned to do so. Through NUF, Essen gained a national network and a broader influence in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space.
“I didn’t understand the value of having a national network until I was able to be in a cohort of people who are across the country. We share ideas and resources.”
During his placement in Seattle, he saw that DEI in the public sector could influence deeper racial healing in the community. Working in one of the more progressive cities in the U.S., Essen was able to see the impact pushing that the envelope could have on the broader collective.
As he reflected on his leadership journey, he concluded, “You can’t wait for other people to create more of what you want to see. When you take that step, you’ll be surprised to see how many people are waiting for someone to take the lead.”
Learn more about the National Urban Fellows and how you can be involved by visiting www.nuf.org.