Home Posts tagged Vilenti Tulloch
Class of 2024

CEO, Academic Leadership Assoc.: Age 36

Vilenti TullochIt’s difficult enough to start a new business or nonprofit at any time and under any circumstances. But to do so at the height of a pandemic … well, that’s another story.

But that’s what Vilenti Tulloch did with the Academic Leadership Assoc. (ALA), a program with a mission to empower young people to make positive changes within themselves and in the community through mentoring literacy and self-advocacy while addressing their social and emotional needs. ALA has also developed a professional-development component called Equity in Action.

It was a step Tulloch thought he needed to take at that time in his career and with that much need within the community, and he has never looked back, capitalizing on an ability to relate to young people and, even more importantly, inspire them to set goals and then reach them.

As he explains how he started, Tulloch — who earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Westfield State University and then a master’s degree in educational psychology at American International College — flashed back to when he was a teacher at an elementary school in Southbridge. “One of the administrators came to me and said, “the kids really like you; they gravitate toward you. I think it would be great if you started a mentoring program.’

“That wasn’t even on my radar back then — I was just trying to learn how to be a teacher,” he said, adding that his mentoring efforts turned into something called the Young Gentlemen’s Club. The students had to wear ties once a week, and there both check-ins and follow-ups that helped keep young people on the right path.

Tulloch would later become an adjustment counselor and then an administrator at the school before deciding to also launch his own initiative. He credits his wife, Yeselie, with coming up with the name, while he finalized a mission and a strategy for fulfilling it.

In his role, Tulloch trains mentors, leads school-based mentoring, and provides professional-development programs to nearly a dozen schools in four districts across Western Mass., including Springfield, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, and Holyoke.

“We’re growing, and we’re building systems that are really having an impact on the students and staff in the schools we’re working with,” he said, noting that, in 2021, he decided to devote all his time to the ALA.

Tulloch has earned several awards and accolades over the years, from a Game Changer award from the Springfield Thunderbirds to an NAACP award for community service. And now, he has another one: Forty Under 40.

—George O’Brien