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COMO Business Times The City Issue July 2024
Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Jerrell Morton

Jerrell Morton

YouthBuild Director, Job Point

Jerrell describes a day in his life as collateral beauty.

“My positions require me to wear multiple hats while maintaining my sense of purpose, direction, and commitment to serving opportunity youth in Columbia. I am blessed to work with a team which assists in creating a safe space for students to challenge the edges of the known experiences while chasing the best version of self,” Jerrell says. “Some days, this is super clear for some students, while others need love without judgment to see their worth beyond the trauma of their past experiences. Behind the label of director, you will find doctor, investigator, reporter, educator, counselor, tailor, outreach, relative, and other occupations as the day creates smiles, tears, lessons learned, and memories.”

Jerrell gives a lot of credit to his family and mentor, Gary Taylor, for the support in getting him to where he is today. When asked about his mentor Jerrell says, “My predecessor, the late Gary Taylor — from my initial interview 11 years ago, my overly confident self — made it clear that one day I would sit in his seat as the director of YouthBuild. He took me under his wing and demonstrated how to lead your team through love and the consistent practice of servant leadership. Throughout our time together, several employment opportunities popped up with higher pay, better benefits, etcetera. Yet his calm spirit would always speak the words ‘be still, there are bigger plans for you here.’”

His brother and former 20 Under 40 award recipient, Darren Morton, realizes Jerrell’s hard work and dedication to what he does.

“The work he does here in COMO is unparalleled. For the last decade, Jerrell has been more than a leader in this program and in this community. He and his team have set the standard for how to connect, inspire and encourage students,” Darren says. “They have stood together as a family to provide resources, direction, and love. Jerrell knows his purpose and passion in life is to serve others. He also drives a four-hour commute each day to do so. This work ethic does not go unnoticed. Jerrell could undoubtedly make more money working elsewhere, yet he chooses to drive from Kansas City to Columbia every day. His mantra is that we are family, and he puts that into action every day.” 

A self-proclaimed “momma’s boy,” Jerrell says that he is extremely passionate about creating a safe space for opportunity youth and adults to discover their worth. This stems from the relationship that he had with his late mom.

“Big shout out to my mother who’s kept a watchful eye on me and my brothers beyond the clouds,” Jerrell says. 

Age: 39

Pet Peeve: Politics and paperwork getting in the way of being able to spark change within our community.  

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