Dandridge Floyd, 37
Assistant Superintendent of Human Relations and Labor Relations, Oakland Schools
Throughout Dandridge Floyd’s careers — whether as a social worker, attorney or assistant superintendent of Oakland Schools — making change has always been a center point.
When United Way pitched a framework to Oakland Schools for a countywide breakfast program to address poor nutrition as a way to improve academic achievement, Floyd — who experienced food insecurity growing up — knew firsthand the powerful impact it could have.
To secure the needed funds, Floyd led a team that earned support from all 28 local districts to finance the program — despite the fact that a majority of them would see no benefit.
“The local districts were phenomenal,” Floyd said. “The biggest surprise was how quickly it happened. Education is a democratic system and democracy can be very slow, but this happened in six to seven months. That showed how committed people were to making sure the students of Oakland County have everything they need to be successful.”
In a county where over 7,000 children suffer from hunger, and only two in five eligible students access a school breakfast, Floyd said a common misperception is that “Oakland County is rich.”
“That makes this program all the more important, because if that is the bias or the thought process people have about Oakland County, then these kids would have never gotten help.”
In a groundbreaking public/nonprofit partnership between the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, Oakland Schools and United Way, Oakland County is Better with Breakfast was born.
“I’m impacting lives now,” Floyd said. “I know the effect food insecurity had on me and my peers growing up, and this was an opportunity to make a change that I wish an adult could have made for me.”
Photography by Jacob Lewkow for Crain’s