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Robert David, violence prevention manager for the City of Danville and head of Project Imagine, has been named the 2023 Youth Workforce Professional of the Year by the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP).
David will be recognized at the association’s 2023 Youth Symposium next week in Las Vegas.
“This award is precious to me because not only does it highlight my efforts, but also the efforts of the city of Danville, Virginia’s collaborative partners who assisted in creating spaces of equity in systems where inequality created barriers for employment with youth," David said. "This award is a testament to the impact of community collaboration.”
The NAWDP provides education, resources, and certification credibility to individuals seeking to thrive as thought leaders and innovators in the workforce development industry.
“The Youth Workforce Professional of the Year award recognizes an individual for their exemplary efforts to impact the youth of their community,” said Melissa Robbins, NAWDP’s Chief Executive Officer. “Robert’s passion for his community and dedication to its youth, combined with his strength in collaboration, have yielded amazing opportunities for youth who are at risk of involvement with gangs and the violence they involve.”
For more information on NAWDP’s programs, CWDP Certification, and membership, go to www.nawdp.org.
David, who also serves as a life and recovery coach and motivational speaker and has been a drug-free Mr. Universe body builder and four-time world champion powerlifter, has more than 25 years of experience working with gang populations.
In June 2018, David joined the City of Danville as the youth services and gang violence prevention coordinator. Four months later, he started Project Imagine to create a positive "image" in the youth’s mind so that he or she can "imagine" a life without gangs or crime.
Initially, the program consisted of a nine-week paid work experience and mentoring while on the job with a partnering agency. The focus now is developing and maintaining those relationships as each teen progresses in meeting their goals, such as finishing school and becoming employed. A Project Imagine outreach worker is assigned to mentor each teen in the program for a minimum of one year.
The teens in Project Imagine are chosen from referrals from the police department, courts, schools, and parents.
David and the Project Imagine model has received national recognition. Last year, David was named to the 2022 Engaging Local Government Leaders Top 100 Influencers in Local Government. In 2020, the National Gang Crime Research Center named David a winner of the Frederic Milton Thrasher Award. The award recognized his accomplishments in gang prevention and intervention.
In 2019, Project Imagine received the President’s Award from the Virginia Municipal League.
David holds master’s degrees in professional counseling and addiction specialist from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. He is certified as a master life coach by Grand Canyon University. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.