Alexandria Brady-Miné is a senior at Buchholz High School. She began her first nonprofit organization at the age of six and has founded five nonprofits. She is the CEO and Founder of The Human Projects, a nonprofit organization that has used social media to educate over a million individuals in over one hundred countries about the importance of human rights. She is also Executive Director of Redefy, an international nonprofit organization that has been commended by President Barack Obama, MTV, and PBS. She is extensively involved in the community and serves on the Alachua County School Board as Student Representative as well as sitting on the Education Committee of Gainesville for All. She is a researcher at the University of Florida. In her free time, Alexandria loves to read and create art.
How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in a family where the importance of human rights was undeniable. My grandmother, a single mom with only a sixth grade education, fled poverty and a ruthless dictator in Haiti with my father and his five siblings. My grandmother arrived in the Virgin Islands with very little money. She fought tirelessly for her children to have a better life and made daily sacrifices in order for her children to get a high school education. My grandmother’s resilience in overcoming the many challenges that she experienced inspired me to fight for human rights.
When I was six, my art teacher mentioned that some students did not have the same access to books that we did. Determined to make a difference, I began to look for a solution. Someone jokingly mentioned that I could start a nonprofit, believing that a six-year-old would be incapable of starting one. This comment changed my life. I decided that starting a nonprofit was the perfect solution and started Rainbow Readers after a few weeks of planning.
It was a small, shaky nonprofit that, admittedly, could have used more adult guidance, but I was determined to do it alone. Rainbow Readers provided interactive, educational reading groups for underprivileged preschool children. This nonprofit changed my life. It was the beginning of a journey that would lead me to incredible places.
As I grew, my nonprofits grew with me. By the age of seventeen, I had founded five nonprofits, each larger and more successful than the last. After Rainbow Readers, I founded Make it for Haiti, a nonprofit that recruited and coordinated teams of elementary school students to make and sell jewelry. Parents donated raw materials and students worked together to create unique pieces of jewelry. All proceeds were donated to the Red Cross Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. The success of this nonprofit inspired me to create a similar nonprofit, Give a Kid Holiday Joy, which made and sold jewelry to raise money to purchase art supplies and books for children at Shand’s Hospital during the holidays.
By the time I was eleven, I realized that nonprofits were an incredible way to have a large impact. When I found that there were many elders in my community struggling to live alone and hesitant to move to supported living facilities, I wanted to help. I founded my longest running nonprofit organization iElder (formerly known as Senior Support) to help with this problem. iElder provides technology, pet care, and other assistance to senior citizens in the community to allow them to continue living independently.
This nonprofit has had the greatest impact on my life. I started it at a time when I was struggling to understand who I was and where I fit in the world. I would spend hours each week with participants and learned so much from their stories.
At the age of seventeen, I wanted to have a global impact. I combined everything I had learned in seventeen years and began meticulously planning. I was intrigued with the idea of using storytelling and social media as a tool for education. I started my largest nonprofit organization, The Human Projects in 2017. The Human Projects is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about human rights issues.
The Human Projects has been more successful than I ever imagined it would be. In just over six months, we have used social media to educate over a million people in over one hundred countries about human rights issues and have worked with schools to educate thousands of students.
Last summer, I became a Her Lead Fellow. Through the Her Lead and Vital Voices Network, I have had the chance to be mentored by some of the most influential and inspiring women on the planet. My Her Lead sisters never fail to inspire me or make me smile when I’m having a difficult day.
My path to changing the world has not always been easy, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
The toughest obstacle for me has been simultaneously living the life of a high achieving high school student and managing the many responsibilities of being the CEO of an international nonprofit. I am a self-proclaimed physics nerd and take a challenging academic curriculum as well as research at the University of Florida. Both of these require a huge time commitment and there are some days that it seems impossible to do it all. I still struggle with trying to balance everything, but I have an incredible support network and have learned to keep going even when things seem impossible. I’m still working on the self-care piece. It has been my greatest challenge.
What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?
The key to staying focused and motivated is to choose a goal that you are so dedicated to that you won’t let anything or anyone stop you. I have found that knowing exactly where you’re going, even if you haven’t quite figured out the path, is the best motivation. It forces you to evaluate every decision you make within the context of your ultimate goal.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
You don’t have to fit the mold of what others expect of you. Do it your way.
When you think of an activist, you typically think of someone who is loud and outspoken. I have never been that. I’m a relatively quiet person. Even now, the majority of my friends don’t know about the work that I do. I do human rights activism my way, which happens to typically be from behind a computer screen. Of course it is sometimes necessary to get out from behind the computer screen. This summer I presented my nonprofit to the CEO of Ann Inc. and the CEO of Vital Voices which was one of the most incredible and terrifying experiences of my life. So I’m all for getting out of your comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be who you are.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to start a new venture?
Choose something you are passionate about. If you aren’t enjoying the journey then it isn’t worth doing, because your business is about to control your life.
How do we get more women leaders?
As a society, we need to stop equating femininity with weakness and masculinity with strength.
Individually, we need to mentor women. I have had incredible mentors and I couldn’t have gotten where I am today without their advice, guidance, and support.