What Doesn't Break You Makes You Stronger

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

What is the catalyst that makes us want to make a difference? Teach For America DC region Executive Director Adele Fabrikant and Rose’s Luxury head chef Seth Wells join Debbie and Billy Shore to discuss educational inequality, developing leadership and service to community. Fabrikant talks about her 20-year career in public education. “When you see the inequities that you see when you teach in the South Bronx after growing up as privileged as I did, you cannot walk away, you cannot turn and go back to the originally scheduled programming,” she explains about her early experience with Teach For America. Wells is currently preparing for his first Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry. “I’m at a point now where there’s always more to learn in the business, but I would like to be able to give back to the community through what I do and make that part of my mission,” he declares.

Fabrikant tells a story about struggling to teach a young boy with extreme anger issues in the South Bronx. “One of the most challenging things is the self-doubt. I feel like that was my loss,” she laments. Wells understands the sentiment within the context of his own work and uses it to become a better chef and leader. “If you feel that comfortable that you’re crushing your job every single day, I don’t know what that feels like. I think self-doubt is important. It’s part of becoming a leader,” he says.

Get personal with these two guests as they discuss how leaders develop their skills and what drives them to want

Resources and Mentions:

Seth Wells

Head chef at Rose’s Luxury. Before Rose’s he was at Iron Gate Inn and Minibar by Jose Andres. A quiet thrill seeker, he’s thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and cycles to and from work every day — even in the winter. He is described as the guy you want to have by your side if you’re stranded on a desert island or in back-country woods. Wells is a veteran of Chefs Cycle, riding 300 miles in 3 days to raise money for No Kid Hungry.

Adele Fabrikant

Executive director for the DC region of Teach For America. Adele graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1999. Her teaching career began as a corps member of Teach For America working with second graders in the South Bronx of New York. After earning her Masters in Educational Leadership from Teachers College at Columbia University in 2004, Adele led instructional and school design for high school students through several non-profit organizations. Adele served as the founding principal of an alternative high school in Brooklyn, New York. As the Deputy Chief of Youth Engagement at DC Public Schools, Adele oversaw policy and program for the district’s most under-served populations. In 2015, Adele joined Teach For America’s D.C. Region as the Executive Director and graduated with a Doctorate in Education. Her dissertation focused on student-centered school district leadership.

No Kid Hungry

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

Rose’s Luxury

A restaurant on Barracks Row in Washington, D.C., created by chef-owner Aaron Silverman. It is known for not taking reservations which creates long lines, such that a nearby bar’s top cocktail is called ‘Waiting for Rose’s’. Rose’s features southern comfort food threaded with international flavors. The opening of Rose’s Luxury in 2014 was the subject of a documentary, New Chefs on the Block. It was also named the Best New Restaurant for 2014 by Bon Appetit magazine. For every meal eaten at Rose’s, they donate 25 cents to the WFP-USA to help feed a hungry child around the world. So far, they have raised more than $50K.

Teach for America

Catalyzes leadership to make educational equity a reality. Children growing up in disenfranchised communities lack access to resources and opportunities and attend schools that are not equipped to meet all their needs. Teach For America finds outstanding leaders who commit to expanding educational opportunity, beginning with at least two years teaching in an under-resourced public school. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with students, educators, and community members, corps members go beyond traditional expectations to support the academic and personal growth of their students. The impact corps members have in the classroom fuels a lifelong commitment to their students and shapes the trajectory of their lives and careers.