Scholar Class – 2012
Adaobi Kanu grew up in the Bronx, NY and spent much of her youth in Nigeria. She later attended a Pennsylvania high school that was supportive of all sexual orientations. Adaobi received her Bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College, with a double major in Physics and Dance, and she is currently an MBA candidate at Columbia Business School focusing on social enterprise, marketing, and operations.
Upon beginning her career in art and homeless outreach services, Adaobi learned of the disproportionate number of LGBTQ people who relied on shelter services or lived in the streets. After hearing from countless LGBT homeless adults that their experience with homeless began with LGBTQ oppression in their teenage years, Adaobi was inspired to become an avid supporter of LGBTQ youth and homeless communities. She soon began helping LGBTQ teens and their allies create inclusive school environments that would help LGBTQ youth feel safer. In this work, Adaobi educated more than 1,600 students on ways to support LGBTQ justice. Along the way she met LGBTQ teens who had been kicked out of their homes due to familial homophobia, or could see the future in homelessness ahead of them, and wanted to do more to support homeless LGBTQ teens.
Adaobi founded and currently runs a nonprofit called Art in Motion, an arts organization that serves homeless teens and young adults. Art in Motion’s goal is to use art as a medium to give young people the personal development and educational tools that will help them stay out of homelessness. Through specialized partnerships with local high school Gay-Straight Alliances and LGBTQ youth homeless shelters, Adaobi and Art in Motion have empowered hundreds of LGBTQ teens to embark on a journey to confidently pursue their dreams. Adaobi is planning on using the skills she is acquiring in the pursuit of her MBA, to focus on tactics for creating systemic and sustainable change for LGBTQ youth and other disenfranchised communities.