The Ascension ProjectThe Ascension Project

Brad Zervas, A Profile in Service

For nearly four decades Brad Zervas has dedicated his efforts towards the advancement and development of boys and young men. His recently published book, “They Are All Our Sons” chronicles a life in the service of others. It details findings that point to specific principles that if applied and adhered to can help to purpose our boys with a brighter future. He is an award-winning teacher, documentary film producer, youth advocate, musician, public speaker and leader in the not-for-profit sector.

After graduating from the University of Massachusetts with degrees in Education and Latin American Studies, Zervas began his career as a program coordinator and language arts instructor at a maximum- security prison north of Hartford, Connecticut. It was there that his youth development theories began to take shape. Realizing that the criminal justice system was systematically dismantling entire communities of color and was particularly ruinous to boys and young men, he began exploring ways to engage boys in healthier endeavors while leveraging public and private assets in new and creative ways. After five years with the Connecticut Department of Corrections, he went on to serve Northfield Mount Hermon School in Northfield, Massachusetts as its first Director of Public and Private Partnerships. In this capacity, Zervas spearheaded a community scholars program that had as its primary focus and objective the inclusion of first generation college bound children from low-income families from Holyoke and Springfield, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut in the school’s first-rate education.

In 1992, Zervas joined The Boys’ Club of New York (BCNY), the largest organization of its kind in the nation, first as its Education Director and then as its Executive Director. Under his leadership and for nearly two decades, BCNY became a beacon of hope to generations of boys and families who would have otherwise been mired in low expectations, poverty and dysfunction. His pioneering efforts in literacy, international travel, independent school placement, parent and family engagement, music education, board development and governance and summer enrichment became the hallmarks that other youth serving organizations aspired to. Zervas has also served on numerous local, regional, national and international boards. His work as a trustee and steward of the resources he was asked to over-see has produced groundbreaking programs promoting student exchange, professional development and institutional advancement.

After leaving BCNY, Zervas joined Boys Hope Girls Hope of New York as its Executive Director and for the next five years continued to advance the work and mission of the region’s only urban boarding school program. Under his leadership, enrollment increased by 100%, student retention and graduation rates exceeded 90% annually and the organizations revenue streams witnessed sharp increases allowing for further program enhancements that have become signature efforts in the youth development arena.

Today, Zervas continues to leverage his contacts on behalf of those boys and young men who need and deserve our undivided attention. In 2009, he founded The Ascension Project (www.theascensionproject.com), an online platform to advance the work of others who are focusing on male achievement and leadership development. He continues to attend conferences around the world as a keynote speaker, workshop presenter and “eye-level practitioner” poised to share unique and powerful insights into his work with boys and young men. His call for greater societal unity and the restoration of families and communities resonates across broad geopolitical, socioeconomic, cultural and racial paradigms.