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Biography

Kwame Owusu-Kesse is the CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), a world-renowned education and poverty-fighting organization based in New York.

Appointed to the role in 2020, after his tenure as COO, Mr. Owusu-Kesse launched HCZ’s transformation into a truly national organization — spearheading efforts to scale its place-based model to under-resourced communities across the country. As part of this effort, he catalyzed HCZ’s national COVID-19 Relief and Recovery to support Black and brown communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Locally, Mr. Owusu-Kesse oversees the administration of HCZ’s comprehensive, cradle-to-career services to over 34,000 children and families in Central Harlem.

Kwame Owusu-Kesse speaking to young people in a lecture hall

Mr. Owusu-Kesse sees himself in the youth of HCZ. Growing up against a backdrop of poverty and family struggles, he was fortunate to have opportunities as a young boy to receive a high-quality education and reach his academic potential. After graduating high school, Mr. Owusu-Kesse earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Harvard University and launched his career at Morgan Stanley as an analyst. During his third year with the bank, Mr. Owusu-Kesse was chosen for an externship at HCZ — an experience that paved the way for his career at HCZ.

After finishing the externship, Mr. Owusu-Kesse returned to Harvard, where he earned a Master’s in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School and a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. With his time at Harvard complete, Mr. Owusu-Kesse re-joined HCZ as senior manager and special assistant to the CEO. Two years later, he was promoted to COO and finally, CEO.