PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Carlos Lejnieks understands the power of education, enrichment and exploration to transform young people’s lives.
University Chaplain Janet Cooper Nelson recalls meeting Lejnieks in 1996 on his first day as an undergraduate at Brown, when she served as his first-year advisor. Raised by a single mother from Ecuador, Lejnieks was outgoing, friendly and hungry to dive into Brown’s Open Curriculum and embrace every opportunity available to him.
“I have a real admiration for his accomplishments in a life that may not have headed in such a boundless direction,” Cooper Nelson said. “He’s very well acquainted with how hard life can be, but his story is animated by a kind of hope that transcends cynicism.”
His time at Brown served as a launchpad for Lejnieks, who is an accomplished leader in youth development and educational equity and has also made a deep impact through volunteer public service. Twenty-three years after he earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations as a member of the Class of 2000, Brown will welcome Lejnieks during Commencement and Reunion Weekend to deliver the Baccalaureate address to the Class of 2023.
“Carlos is a magnificent person, and his empathetic connection with undergraduates is strong,” Cooper Nelson said of Lejnieks, who is president of the Brown Alumni Association. “He remembers well what it feels like to be where these students are, and he knows that the world that is waiting for them is every bit as rich and as warm as the one they’ve been able to build here, in which they’ve received such a magnificent education.”
Brown’s annual Baccalaureate ceremony, which will be held at the First Baptist Church of America in Providence on Saturday, May 27, celebrates the graduates before they earn their degrees at Commencement the following day and honors the many spiritual and cultural traditions of the Brown community.
About Carlos Lejnieks
As the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties in New Jersey since 2008, Lejnieks has helped strengthen and expand the agency. He has also harnessed his grassroots experience to advise on state and federal policy related to youth and family support, including service on the New Jersey Governor’s Council to advocate for families most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After starting his career in the private sector with positions at Goldman Sachs and CN Communications, Lejnieks pivoted to the field of education and served as a charter school administrator in Newark, New Jersey. He co-founded and is a trustee of the Democracy Prep charter school network, which serves students in four states.
He also serves as chair of the Jersey City Medical Center board of trustees, a board member at New Jersey City University and a member of the board of regents at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey. He received the Aspen Foundation’s emerging leaders fellowship in 2012 and won the 2018 American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Award.
At Brown, Lejnieks has served as a trustee of the Corporation since 2021 and became president-elect of the Brown Alumni Association in 2019. Lejnieks earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brown University in 2000 and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics in 2004.