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Leon Ford: The Power of Overcoming Adversity to Inspire Change

Screenshot 2023 03 07 at 12 46 30 PM
Activist and police shooting survivor, Leon Ford, left, and Pittsburgh police Chief Scott Schubert, right. Photo credit: @leonfordspeaks on Instagram
Margaret Beim
Margaret Beim, Reimagine

March 08, 2023

Leon Ford is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, international speaker, community organizer, and activist who has devoted his life to improving his community and ending police brutality. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 16, 1993, and has accomplished so much in a short period. Leon is a Reimagine board member, and he was recently announced as Forbes 30 under 30 for Social Impact. Despite the adversities he has faced, Leon has devoted his life to making a positive impact on his community. He shares powerful lessons about channeling loss into love and trauma into opportunities.

The Event That Changed Everything

When Leon was 19 years old, his life changed forever. On November 11, 2012, he was unjustly shot five times by the Pittsburgh Police during a traffic stop. This horrific case of mistaken identity has left him physically paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. However, Leon hasn't allowed his circumstances to deter him from positively impacting his community. Instead, he has used this event to inspire change and promote healing in his community.

The Power of Overcoming Adversity

Leon's ability to overcome adversity is inspiring. He has never let his disability define him or limit his potential. Instead, he has turned his challenges into opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. Through mentorship and leadership, Leon has sparked a movement that cultivates leaders, organizers, and social entrepreneurs by empowering them to use their voices, platforms, and resources to evoke change and reshape their communities for generations.

Lessons in Community Activism and Advocacy

Leon's experience with police brutality has given him a unique perspective on social disparities and injustice. Through his leadership, he has used this experience to become a well-respected activist, mental health ambassador, and social advocate of change. His influence in his community has revealed a heroic display of strength, wisdom, faith, and fortitude. Leon's work has not gone unnoticed in the community. He received several awards, including President Obama's Volunteer Service Award in 2017, The Root 100 in 2018, and Pittsburgh's 40 Under 40 in 2019.

The Power of Healing and Hope

While Leon is passionate about educating the community, he has also devoted time to working with police officers to help provide clarity on cultural competency, training, and building healthy relationships. Leon displays authentic leadership through his work while also being a source of healing, hope, and inspiration. His knowledge of social disparities and injustice comes from personal experience, and he uses this experience to bring about positive change in his community.

The Importance of Resilience and Perseverance

Leon's story is a testament to the power of resilience and perseverance. Despite hardships, he continues to be a voice for the voiceless and a leader to those needing direction. Leon's ability to overcome adversity is inspiring and a reminder that we can all positively impact our communities, no matter what the challenges.

He is a remarkable individual who has faced unimaginable challenges and has used those challenges to inspire change in his community. Through his leadership and advocacy work, he has become a source of healing, hope, and inspiration to those around him. Leon's story reminds us of the power of resilience, perseverance, and the importance of using our experiences to impact the world around us positively. We are honored to have him as a member of the Reimagine family.

An Unspeakable Hope: Brutality, Forgiveness, and Building a Better Future for My Son

This May (2023), Leon is launching his first book: An Unspeakable Hope: Brutality, Forgiveness, and Building a Better Future for My Son. In this book, he explains how his harrowing experience inspired his lifelong commitment to social activism. In the wake of countless similar shootings to his own across the country over the years, he has dedicated himself to bridging the gap between the police and the communities they are supposed to serve. With his compassionate voice, Ford offers fresh, counterintuitive advice for social change and demonstrates how we can end police brutality and heal as a country. As he once said, "Lead with love. Start compassionate conversations even with individuals and systems that have caused you pain. I know from experience that you can make your pain purposeful." Order your copy today.

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