Richard Buery Jr. is the president and CEO of the Children’s Aid Society. Named to the post in July, Buery is the youngest person and the first African-American to hold the position since the society was founded. The 38-year-old married father of two graduated from both Harvard and Yale. While attending Ivy League universities may have set Buery on the path to success, it was his time in high school that set his path in life.
Born and raised into a stable, two-parent home in an impoverished and troubled neighborhood in Brooklyn, Buery was among the gifted children who got the opportunity to attend the prestigious Stuyvesant High School. While there, he went to class alongside students who were from Manhattan, and his eyes were opened to what he calls “the two New York Cities,” one for children of privilege and the other for the poor. “Very few people make that trip between the two communities,” said Buery .
Buery has never lost sight of that gap. Working to close it, he has founded and run three non-profit organizations focused on helping underprivileged young people. Most recently he was the co-founder and executive director of Groundwork, Inc., which serves around 3,000 families in and around housing projects in Brooklyn.
Now that Buery is with the 157-year-old Children’s Aid Society, his reach can extend across the state of New York, the nation, and the world. “We do it through example and by showing something that works and getting it out into the field,” said Buery.
Buery highlights the agency’s innovations, such as establishing one of America’s first kindergartens and inventing foster care and modern-day community schools. Children’s Aid Society spreads its innovations by running programs in other cities or by helping other communities adapt the programs to their needs.
Buery says that as a nation, America has the ability to provide all of its children with the resources to succeed and lead productive lives.
“What we don’t have is a national commitment and we (at the Children’s Aid Society) want to be part of showing America that it’s possible and can be done and is worth doing,” Buery said.