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Leading by Example Femi Kusimo ’08 organizes an annual volunteer day for his Goldman Sachs colleagues.

Femi-w-volunteers-scaled-800x533 Leading by ExampleFemi Kusimo ’08 (far left) and museum director Lauren Kelly (second from left) with his Goldman Sachs colleagues at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Storytelling and Art. Photo by Michael Palma.

It took a baptism by fire to push Olufemi “Femi” Kusimo ’08 squarely into volunteering on a regular basis. Although a vice president at Goldman Sachs, he thought he was too young to contribute to a nonprofit board in any meaningful way.

But that changed when a fire wiped out his New York City apartment and all his belongings. “My coworkers helped with clothes and furniture, and the experience pushed me to find a way to give back to my community.”

Kusimo joined the board of Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Storytelling and Art in Harlem. He credits his mother for instilling the volunteer spirit in him. An educator, she helped under-represented communities in their hometown of Charleston, West Virginia, and told him he was going to college. “She made sure I didn’t put limits on myself.”

At W&L, he delved into history courses while preparing for a career in business. He learned interpersonal skills in class and on the basketball court that “helped shape me as a person and connect me to a world I didn’t know.”

After graduation, he joined Goldman Sachs and now runs the onboarding team for large institutional clients and manages teams that facilitate and support client trading in Latin America, Europe and North America.

Those management skills were the perfect fit for his volunteer role at the museum. Every year he organizes a volunteer day, when colleagues from Goldman Sachs support the staff, usually setting up and taking down materials for children’s art projects or storytelling. The museum’s “locale is poor, but rich in history,” Kusimo said. “Many of the kids in the neighborhood don’t know about the history of the arts in Harlem. It gives them a sense of pride to learn that history and gives them confidence and a sense of self.”

He often helps out at the museum on Sundays. “It keeps me grounded,” he said. “Connecting with people is extremely important to me. We all need to find a way to give back, to pay it forward.”