Dr. Samuel Betances has decades of experience inspiring teams of people to aim high, appreciate their differences and work together toward a better future. His passion is to increase the cultural competencies of mission-driven teams so they can more effectively help urban students move from poverty to graduation.
Betances is best known for his workshops, keynotes and consulting on educating and graduating first-generation students from “book-poor” backgrounds. His own life experience includes growing up in poverty, dropping out of school and then earning two degrees from Harvard University. Betances worked at the U.S. Department of Education and as a Professor of Sociology at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago for 25 years. He and his wife, Dr. Laura M. Torres Souder, have provided staff development training to more than 1,000 schools, and provided diversity training and advocacy for literacy throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam and Micronesia.
His latest book, Ten Steps to the Head of the Class: A Handbook for Middle School Students, is a step-by-step guide to help middle school students develop good study skills that will give them an edge in school and life. Betances also is the author of six other books.
He regularly speaks to audiences about women's issues, African-American historical month activities, Hispanic events and celebrations, and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He challenges audiences everywhere with his powerful message: "It matters less where we are from; what really matters is where we are going. Accept our diversity. Embrace it. Make it work for you. Harness the rainbow."
Samuel Betances credits where he is today with taking the hard lessons he learned from the streets and reshaping them into a personal vision. His love of reading is one of the main things that propelled him forward to eventually earn a Ph.D. from Harvard, be honored as Professor Emeritus, and become a consultant to U.S. presidents, CEOs, community groups, educators and young people.
"We could not be more pleased with the diversity message that you so eloquently conveyed. The feedback of those that had the privilege of experiencing your viewpoint has been overwhelmingly positive; folks haven′t stopped talking about you yet!"
"Stimulating!!! Thought Provoking!!! Even your most skeptical executive will see the bottom line benefits of diversity as a business strategy. Dr. Betances makes a compelling argument as to how organizations can reap the benefits of implementing a diversity strategy."
"I have personally been involved in numerous learning opportunities at Meijer Inc. over the years. By far, Dr. Samuel Betances has been the most significant person we have had work with us. His presentations and mere presence has changed lives!"
"Your speech on diversity was very dynamic and well received. We may set aside one week during the year to celebrate diversity, but we must practice diversity every day as a way of life."