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Meet Jacolby Suggs

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Class of 2023 BEQ Pride LGBTQ Leader Under 40

Pronouns: He, Him

Age: 27


Who or what inspires your leadership purpose? And why?

My promise to every person is the same; I am committed to being the person they need to unpack their potential to actualize their future. Developing hard skills and external supports inform my work and my perspective, I recognize that my ability to be successful in my becoming was due to the soft skills that had a connection to my lived experience. I believe that by providing the right support and guidance I can cultivate dreams and help discover what it is that an individual loves as I aid them in pursuit of the outcomes that they see for themselves. ~ Jacolby Suggs


Jacolby Suggs is an educator who sees his recognition as a leader as shaping a new narrative of young Black gay men as change agents in the world. Jacolby’s education journey has broadened his perspective on the necessity of community, representation, and the awareness of self when nurturing the growth and development of an individual. Specifically, as an admissions counselor at The College of New Jersey provided an opportunity to build community and touch the lives of Black and brown students. Jacolby figured out his purpose when a student shared, “Thank you for seeing me and being there for me.” Entering the K-12 education system as a counselor, Jacolby held on to the importance of “seeing” students and the need for representation, showing students that all dreams are ultimately attainable, no matter how small or large. Jacolby is sparked by his desire to be the person that affirms, aligns, and activates the lives of those he touches. When he looks in the mirror, he sees a person with goals and a person on a journey.


Jacolby remembers a time when he believed he did not have all the tools to achieve his goals, and he hopes not to have any students he works with question themselves. Today, as he helps students navigate their passion, purpose, and plan through the KIPP NJ Public Schools, part of the nationally recognized“Knowledge Is Power Program” non-profit network of schools, Jacolby is fueled by being what students need. Growing up, there were few gay Black men in Jacolby’s community, and seeing himself in someone like him would have validated his story. Jacolby contributes to a larger ecosystem of support that uplifts, impacts, and creates community for his students. His efforts provide students a path to securely do that for themselves — that “is why I’m here,” he says. 


Being recognized furthers Jacolby’s commitment to representation for young people similarly identified and his goal of becoming who he needed in his life when he was a young boy. Jacolby helps young people navigate the wonders and woes of their becoming years while embracing their identity and a sense of purpose. Jacolby believes, now more than ever, the work to truly see the community must be equitable, innovative, and speak to the lived experiences of those being served. Jacolby Suggs’ work matters, and his dream —of positively adding to the narrative-shifting history of LGBTQ+/SGL individuals— has already come true.

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