Carlos Lejneiks Wins The 2018 American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Award

Apr 16, 2018 5:20 PM ET

And the winner of the 2018 American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Award is… Carlos Lejneiks!

The president and CEO of Big Brothers & Big Sisters (BBBS) of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties took over the then struggling agency in 2008. Within four years, he went from serving approximately 100 youth to serving more than 1,000.  Under his leadership, BBBS has received numerous awards from local, state and national organizations. 

I had the chance to chat with Carlos on how he leads with purpose, check out what he shared with me below:  

What is your organization’s mission?        

To mentor "at risk" youth through professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships. 

What is your average day like?

A little bit of everything - fundraising, programmatic development, staff management, advocacy, cultivation, and partnership development. Jokingly, folks call me the "CEO" – the Chief "Everything" Officer. 

Why did you choose a career in the social purpose sector? 

There is a gap in this country between the aspirations of our foundation and the reality of many in our communities. The social sector fills that gap - it creates a bridge towards our country's potential.

What does leadership mean to you?

To me, leadership means helping others be their very best. That includes:

  • Representing and standing up for those who are marginalized in our communities;

  • Understanding my colleagues needs and aspirations to best help them achieve their current and future goals; and

  • Knowing when to step back and allow another team member to shine or lead a task.

How have you leveraged your experiences at the American Express Leadership Academy to drive change in  your community?

We have extended Leadership Academy fellowships to emerging leaders throughout the BBBS of America network. My current COO is an alum and over a dozen of my BBBS peers are too. All of us our using our experiences to fight for thousands of children in our respective communities. 

As part of the award, BBBS of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties will also receive a $25,000 grant. Carlos plans to use this funding to invest in international service-learning experiences to develop the youth he works with.

Congratulations Carlos – we look forward to following your journey with BBBS!

If you have a comment or question, please follow me on Twitter at @timmcclimon and start a conversation there. Thanks for reading and sharing this blog posting with friends and colleagues.  

Jocelyn F. Seidenfeld
American Express
+1 (212) 640-0555