Helping Students of Color Realize Their Full Potential
BLAC founder Jonathan Lee varies a deep belief that every student deserves to be heard, respected, and valued. He believes that there is nothing more critical than access to an education that provides the ability to obtain knowledge and power. Jonathan further believes that independent schools are an amazing conduit that provides teenagers a means to become great young adults as they prepare for college and life.
Jonathan earned his BA in Government and MBA from the College of William and Mary. Jonathan has served as a mentor, coach, advisor, dorm parent, grade dean, admission officer, and much more during his time working in independent schools.
The Whole Story
Born in Vallejo, California, Jonathan’s family moved to Alexandria, VA when he was 5-years old. As an Alexandria native, he attended Patrick Henry Elementary school and Francis C. Hammond Middle School. As an Alexandrian, Jonathan passed by EHS time after time without truly knowing what was held within the gated community of Episcopal High School.
Jonathan enrolled at EHS the fall of 1997 as a 9th grader; including himself there were 3 Black males and 2 Black females in his freshman class. His freshman year was filled with ups and downs of racism, micro/ macro aggressions, loneliness and confusion. The world of EHS was drastically different from the world of Hammond Middle School (less than 2 miles away). At the conclusion of his freshman year, Jonathan was a member of the state championship winning Varsity Basketball Team and a recipient of the Quentin Theodore Roosevelt Award, given to the 9th grade student that best embodies the values and traditions of the school.
Jonathan’s sophomore year concluded with him being a decorated Cross Country runner on the Varsity Cross Country Team, Track Team and again a member of the state championship winning Varsity Basketball Team. Similarly to his freshman year, sophomore year was no different, but this time Jonathan grew thicker skin and more poised to handle the difficulties of being Black at EHS.
Junior and senior year quickly arrived and provided Jonathan opportunities to lead as the Captain of Cross Country, Basketball and Track Team, member of the Honor Committee and Senior Monitor. Jonathan earned All-League, All-City and All-State Honors. Jonathan was awarded the Rinehart Medal for Athletic Worth and the Jett Rogers Memorial Cup for the student that best embodies the vision and mission of the school upon graduation. Jonathan was joined by 4 other Black graduates in the class of 2001.
No matter the struggle that was presented at EHS, Jonathan remained focused on his goal and all the stars aligned when he received and accepted a full scholarship as a William and Mary Scholar to the College of William and Mary. EHS taught Jonathan how to listen, learn, and lead through all that he experienced. He then graduated from W&M with a BA in Government. During his time in Williamsburg he was a member of the Men’s Basketball Team as a walk-on and eventually decided to be a Student Manager for the Women’s Basketball Team. He recently received his MBA from the College of William and Mary.
Upon graduation, Jonathan worked as a Project Manager in the technology industry and while doing so took up coaching Varsity Basketball as an assistant in 2006 and an Assistant Cross Country Coach in 2011 at EHS. As a Black student, life was not always easy for Jonathan, and as a coach and mentor, his hope was to be a friend to all and stranger to none.
In 2017, Jonathan took a full-time job as an Assistant Director of Admissions at Episcopal High School. Over the next 4 years, Jonathan became an Associate Director of Admissions, Hummel Dormitory Head, 9th Grade Boy Advisor, Black Student Association Faculty Leader, member of the Race, Understanding and Belonging Task Force, and much more. All of Jonathans’ endeavors were the product providing an introduction to EHS and himself in a manner that was welcoming and loving.
As Jonathan departs the Holy Hill for a role as the Dean of Students of Seattle Academy of the Arts and Sciences, he is excited to work with students in a new role. Jonathan hopes to tackle his day-to-day role with energy, effort and enthusiasm while allowing a voice for every student. Jonathan’s love for Episcopal moves him to look for the answers to the question, should his experiences from twenty years ago still be present in the lives of students of color today? Take a look at Black @ fill in any school name, and the answer should be no. Jonathan wants to use our voices and our faces as Black students of independent schools to bridge a path of success for the next generation.
Jonathan will continue to work and uphold the values and mission of what it means to be kind, caring and dedicated to the service of others. No matter the school colors or the coast he lives on, he will continue to follow his North Star. Jonathan is now the founder of Bridging Legacies Across Campuses LLC and Building Legacies Across Campuses Inc. (non-profit).
Jonathan’s introduction to Episcopal High School is attributed to the Spinner Family. Their introduction to EHS opened up countless doors. Independent schools provide an amazing means as a conduit for all students to obtain success in education.
Stay tuned for the next chapter!
Update as of Jan 3rd, 2022: