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Luversa Sullivan – An Education Hero Who Changed Lives

 In #TAFLab, #TeamTAF

The late Luversa Sullivan is one of my education heroes.  Luversa was one of those rare people you meet in your life and you think “saint”.  She left this earth too soon. The gift and legacy she left to the students in our community will be every lasting.  At her memorial, she was described as “A Leader. An Inspiration.  A Mentor” and I couldn’t agree more.

I met Luversa back in the early 90’s when she was operating a small nonprofit called The Institute for Electronic Design and I was a volunteer.  Luversa had this magic about her, particularly with kids that nobody wanted to deal with—students who were incarcerated or on the dangerous path towards incarceration.  My first encounter with her was when I sat in on a programming class she was teaching after school at Rainier Beach High School.

Luversa convinced me to spend some time at her shop and meet her students.  A few months later I took her up on it.  What I saw was a big open space with a bunch of 2nd hand computers and parts, students running around with gadgets I’d never seen before and some very happy faces.  The kids were busy working on a variety of projects from mixing sound with video to programming a game.  Frankly there wasn’t much I could add to the scene because in my profession I didn’t work with media tools and I’m not a gamer.  But I stayed for a few hours and took in the love and hard work of the kids and I saw how much she cared about them.  I wanted to do what she did, so I started volunteering at the East Madison YMCA and taught a Visual Basic programming class—something closer to my skillset and my neighborhood.

Fast forward to 1995, I changed my career at Microsoft and moved to the diversity department where I managed the high school internship program.  Of course once we got the structure of the program going, the first person I thought of for a source of students was Luversa.  We ended up hiring a few students that summer and the next.

When I left Microsoft in 1996 to start TAF, I would run into Luversa in the nonprofit circles.  She grew from a woman running a small shop to opening several places for students to learn how to work with electronic media.  She also became an Adjunct Professor of media at Evergreen College’s Tacoma campus and she opened a program for youth in Ghana!

More than anything, Luversa was a selfless member of our community who taught through her example that giving your time, expertise and love to our “babies” is one of the best things you can do in life.

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