Dr. Macheo Payne, an Oakland native and founding deputy director of Youth UpRising (YU), has returned to lead the community-based nonprofit as president and CEO. As a renowned educator, social worker and activist, Payne brings notable expertise and profound commitment to his new role, as well as deep roots in the Oakland area and a proud history with YU.
Payne helped to plan and open the 25,000-square-foot youth development center next to Castlemont High School in Oakland in 2005. Now he is poised to ensure long-term stability and establish new partnerships as YU continues to provide comprehensive opportunities for young people in the areas of health, education, leadership and jobs.
The vibrant YU community hub offers career education support, job training, social enterprise opportunities, arts and civic engagement programs and more. The center features a GED school and job development program, media and performing arts centers, and a youth-run café and catering business. Primary health and mental health services, including trauma-informed care, are also provided in an onsite clinic, enabling YU to take a truly holistic approach to serving neighborhood youth.
“Returning to Youth UpRising was an unexpected but a welcome opportunity to fully express and apply all that I have gained in 25 years of professional experience in Oakland,” said Payne. “I’m honored to return as president and CEO and inspired to spark community transformation powered by youth development. Now, more than ever, we need to provide this resource for the youth of Oakland to ensure the unity and growth of the city.”
In his initial role with Youth Uprising, Payne engaged elected officials in coordinating support, cultivated partnerships, facilitated the planning process and managed day-to-day operations. He went on to serve as senior director of equity and educational initiatives at Lincoln Child Center and as an Oakland Freedom school program director. An assistant professor at Cal State University East Bay, Payne has also consulted and trained for the Children’s Defense Fund and conducted research for Stanford University.
Payne earned a BA at UC Berkeley, a MSW from Cal State University East Bay and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from San Francisco State University. His research and dissertation on new practices to keep black male youth in the classroom made a major impact on the field of education and he is a thought leader on addressing disparities among students of color in schools and social systems.
Yet what fuels his passion and gives him a remarkable ability to connect with youth goes beyond his academic and professional expertise. Having grown up in Oakland and shared the background and experiences that challenge local youth, he brings a depth of both personal and intellectual understanding to his work. And as a father raising his sons in Oakland, he is profoundly committed to serving as a role model to his family as well as the community as a whole.
According to Nate Miley, District 4, Alameda County Board Supervisor and member of the YU Board, “We are pleased to welcome Dr. Payne back to Youth Uprising to take the helm as president and CEO. He brings an unparalleled combination of attributes to this position, including decades of professional experience, the passion and courage to take on challenges, and a lifelong connection to the Oakland community.”
“The opening of Youth UpRising was the result of a youth leadership process that was different in that the young people made decisions about the build out, the programming, the approach and the opportunities offered,” said Payne.