A drive to serve marginalized communities and the confidence of a U.S. Army Reserve mentor transformed Raymond Omar Long from “working just to survive” in his 20s to leading one of the state’s preeminent youth mentoring organizations, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas.
Long took over the nonprofit in June 2021 with a three-year plan to recruit 300 mentors and extend BBBSC’s reach beyond Little Rock into Conway, Benton, Bryant and Pine Bluff.
Before that, he held roles in business and nonprofits, as director of business retention and expansion at the Little Rock Regional Chamber and director of programs and operations at the Urban League of Arkansas. He even started his own youth development nonprofit, the Better Start Foundation, which focused on career development and youth leadership skills through group mentoring.
Long said it was a mentor of his own, Capt. Gerald Williams, who “made leadership attractive” and showed Long he could choose a career with more responsibility.
“He saw something different in me,” Long said. Now it’s Long who’s inspiring new leaders.