A proud woman in the Bronx is becomes a mentor to thousands of children in the city and a model for making a difference. As we continue our series honoring Black History Month, CBS2's Jessica Layton introduces us to the new leader of the nation's first and the city's largest youth mentoring program.
- Now, a proud woman in the Bronx becomes a mentor to thousands of children in the city. And a model for making a difference. As we continue our series honoring Black History Month, tonight CBS 2's, Jessica Layton, introduces us to the new leader of the nation's first and the city's largest youth mentoring program.
- I'm the CEO of Big Brothers Big sisters of New York City.
- And how does it feel to say that?
JESSICA LAYTON: It would be an honor for anyone. But Alicia Guevara is the first female CEO in the 117 year history of big Brothers Big sisters of New York City.
- A woman and as a woman of color. I am a black woman. I'm a Latina.
JESSICA LAYTON: Born and raised in the Bronx, believing in the power of mentorship, probably because of the indelible mark made by her first mentor, her mom.
- She just believed in me. And having someone tell you that they believe in you when you're seven, eight years old, is invaluable. And so when I look at our young people, I say, I believe in you.
- What is it like raising your kids in the same borough where you were born?
- They get to actually see and experience where I lived and appreciate all of the lessons that my community taught me.
JESSICA LAYTON: Lessons, the wife and mother of 2, is trying to now teach to 5,300 more young people. Like 14-year-old, Gianna, who shared with us what Black History Month means to her.
- It's really special by seeing like, people that look like yourself and seeing the amount of love that they get.
JESSICA LAYTON: The culture and history of the black community is something she and her mentor, Paige, often talk about when visiting museums and trying out new restaurants. But the pandemic kept them physically apart for a long time.
- It really was almost a year.
JESSICA LAYTON: In fact, less than a year into her position as CEO, Guevara found herself guiding the group through the crisis.
- How to have difficult conversations. Compassionate conversations. In the face of multiple pandemics. A health pandemic. A pandemic that's also plagued by racial inequities. I think our Littles learned that they were not alone.
JESSICA LAYTON: And even in the current virtual environment, her goal is to pave the way for those Littles to help amplify their voices.
- Representation matters. And that my duty in those spaces is to continue to open up doors so that others can come after me.
JESSICA LAYTON: A girl from the Bronx, now a woman in charge, giving back in such a big way to the borough that believed in her. Jessica Layton, CBS 2 News.