Cedric Lavar Jennings was born on July 24, 1977, the youngest of three children, in his native southeast Washington, D.C. He was educated through the District of Columbia Public School system, graduating from Frank W. Ballou Senior High School in 1995. In 1999, Cedric earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Educational Studies with a minor in Applied Mathematics from Brown University. After graduating from Brown, Cedric returned to D.C., and began a short stint as a corporate trainer in the technology field. In 2002, he earned a Master of Education degree in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He also earned a Master of Social Work degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2003. After completing his graduate studies, Cedric returned to D.C., and dedicated his life to helping others.
In 2004, Cedric obtained licensure to practice social work in the District of Columbia. He began his career in child welfare, as a social worker with the Progressive Life Center, serving abused and neglected children in the D.C. foster care system. In 2006, Cedric began employment with the District of Columbia Child and Family Services Agency as an adoption social worker. As a social worker, Cedric worked fervently, in many capacities, to ensure the safety and well-being of children through the achievement of permanency with stable and healthy families.
After almost five years as a direct services provider, Cedric aspired to continue his work with youth within the realm of management. In October 2008, he was appointed as the Director of the Office Youth Programs with the Council of the District of Columbia under the administration of Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D). At the Council, Cedric was responsible for developing and managing quality programming that educates and empowers youth to become agents of change in their communities through civic engagement. Some of this programming included the Council’s Youth Internship Program, which is adapted from the Congressional Page Program, and the Council’s Monthly Youth Hearings. On January 3, 2011, Cedric was appointed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray to serve as the Director of the District of Columbia Youth Advisory.
In 1998, Cedric became the main subject of the national best-selling book, A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey From the Inner City to the Ivy League, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Ron Suskind. The book chronicles Cedric’s life growing up in D.C., through his experiences as a student at Brown University. Currently, the book is required reading at numerous educational institutions across the country. Cedric is a well sought-after motivational speaker who has made appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, and ABC’s Nightline.