Before Latasha Morgan could start working at HCZ’s Countee Cullen Community Center in 2005, she understood the need to connect with the community. So, she invested time in getting to know HCZ’s neighbors.
She chatted with residents on their stoops, asked the drug dealers to not sell in front of the center, and only ordered breakfast from the Red Rose restaurant down the street to ensure Ms. Margie, the owner, never felt slighted.
“Without the community, there is no opportunity to do any of the things we [at HCZ] do,” said Morgan. “I would tell guys: ‘I’m not too far from who you are and where you’re from.’”
Latasha Morgan grew up in the Martin Luther King public housing development in Harlem surrounded by a big family and loving neighbors.
Morgan was an intelligent and talented athlete, but only focused on her grades as much as it was necessary to stay on the basketball team. Often, she cut class. After graduating high school, Morgan was embarrassed that she hadn’t been accepted into a college.
“I was a star that had fallen. I crashed because I didn’t value education yet,” said Morgan. “I knew I needed to be [in school] to be eligible to play during the season, but in the off-season, I disappeared.”
After high school, Morgan visited a friend who went to Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) and the basketball coach recognized her from the newspapers immediately. Impressed by her athletic career, the coach helped her matriculate into the school. She excelled and even led her basketball team to the top of national competitions. She went on to graduate from HVCC, and later, Saint Leo University, where she furthered her education and played Division II basketball.
In 2002, Morgan started at HCZ as a Peacemaker with her life-long friend (and now, husband) Uriah Morgan. Nearly eighteen years later, she now serves as Director of Parent and Community Engagement, providing support to HCZ and Promise Academy® families and the community.
“To me, this community means hope, possibility and life,” said Morgan. “Everything I do here is a personal mission for me.”