40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Latoya Bosworth

Author, Teacher, Nonprofit Leader, K.Y.D.S; Age 38

Latoya Bosworth

Latoya Bosworth

Whether she’s at work teaching young people, leading workshops with nonprofit and human-service organizations, or writing and editing books, stories, and poetry collections, Latoya Bosworth is the queen of self-esteem.

A teacher, speaker, workshop leader, and writer, Bosworth offers several programs and resources to youths and women, bound together by the core ideas of self-worth and empowerment. She founded K.Y.D.S — Keep Youth Dreaming and Striving — in 2006 to offer mentoring to area youth on a one-on-one basis. She also launched the Gifted Diva Showcase the same year, a biannual exhibition for teen girls ages 13 to 19 designed to showcase their strengths (as opposed to their evening wear), and went on to launch the H.E.R.S — Health, Empowerment, Resiliency, and Self-worth — Conference for young women.

“I saw a lot of self-esteem lacking,” she said of her impetus for creating such a diverse set of programs. “Ultimately, my goal is to ensure people that their circumstances don’t have to define who they are. They may shape them, but do not define them.”

That’s a life lesson Bosworth learned herself and passes on to others at every opportunity. She lost her mother at age 4, and later her grandmother, who raised her from age 4 to 13, both to cancer. But she said she’s always been a positive, creative spirit, and that passion for life is seen in everything she does.

Her workshops for kids, teenagers, and adults range in topic from “Self-esteem Superheroes” for young girls to “Using the Pen to Push Past the Pain,” which incorporates some lessons from the national Freedom Writers Foundation; from “Motherless Mothers,” a facilitated forum for young moms who grew up without a mother of their own, to “Got H.E.R.S,” an all-encompassing session on personal growth for women ages 18 to 24.

As a poet, writer, and spoken-word artist, Bosworth has published eight books and performed at live events across the U.S., often using the moniker Brenda’s Child in honor of her late mother.

She’s also blended her many passions, in one instance, by creating a collection of poetry and essays by her students titled Our Voices.

As she continues to help others evolve into confident individuals, she continues to grow herself. Bosworth’s goals for the future include finding a central, dedicated space for K.Y.D.S programming in Western Mass., completing her Ph.D — now underway at Walden University — and passing on her lessons of strength and joy to her 18-year-old son, Najee, 4-year-old son, Elijah, and the rest of her large, extended family.

— Jaclyn Stevenson

Photography by Leah Martin Photography