Inspiring next generation of leaders in Boca

Get ready for the next generation of leaders in Boca. They’re coming.

Eric Gooden, a former Boca council candidate who stayed active in city matters has started a non-profit for upcoming leaders, like him. Their first bootcamp is Saturday July 18. This is The 35U’s mission statement: “To engage and motivate the next generation of leaders in government, business, media and education.”

Gooden, 32, was still studying criminal justice at Boca’s Lynn University in 2012 when the national presidential debate was held on that campus. A younger look-alike, he stood in for Barack Obama. “I made the cover of the Palm Beach Post but I didn’t meet him,” Gooden said. He did meet Obama later at a campaign event and has framed his autograph. Through Lynn, he went to the 2012 inauguration and found it inspiring.

Then, he had an internship on the Hill in D.C. And in 2014 became the youngest candidate at the time, when he ran against former councilman Mike Mullaugh, the incumbent.

Gooden didn’t win, but he stuck around. He was on several volunteer advisory panels that required city council appointments.

Eric Gooden

In 2017, he started The 35U as a blog. Fellow Lynn alumni Juan Dawson, studying law in Philadelphia, is executive director. They hope The 35U will catch on. See bootcamp details and speakers below.

“I come from a family of firefighters who were active in the religious community, so I was raised with the mindset of giving back,” said the Detroit, Mich. native who moved to Boca with his mom years ago.

“People want to be proud of who they are. It’s not about color. It’s about the next generation of leaders,” he said. “A lot of people broke barriers in their state. It’s overcoming. I highlight the obstacles, what it took to get there.”

By Marci Shatzman

The first Leaders of Today bootcamp is 10:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, July 18.

The 35U is charging $10 per person to participate. To register go to Keynote address by Gen Z activist, author and motivational speaker Brandon Farbstein. Diagnosed with a rare form of dwarfism at the age of 2, his goal in life is to empower youth to make their voices heard. Speakers include Roquel Crutcher (policy entrepreneur), Phillip Singleton (political strategist), Tara Laxer (policy advisor), Maya French (co-founder Koia), and Joey Brander (president, First Serve Partners). 


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