Justin Sims was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, having lived a typical life with loving parents and superb support systems in place. As a young man, Justin was a very active and engaged student. His character was formed early through involvement in the church and urban communities, and even more at home as he assisted with a disabled mother during his elementary school days.
Justin was blessed to be born into a married family; unfortunately, his parents divorced prior to him entering elementary school. But because of his loving, sweet-spirited mother, there was never division between Justin and his father.
Justin received the best free education available at the time. Having been placed in a magnet school from first through sixth grade and receiving an honors education from seventh through twelfth grade, Justin deeply understands the importance of education.
Justin participated in many sports as a young man, but being a lanky and aggressive youth at such a young age, his passion grew where he dominated most – football. After attending a football camp, he was invited to attend a leadership camp for young men without father figures.
While being dropped off for the camp, Justin’s mother asked the program’s founder, former NCAA head football coach and current ESPN analyst Mike Gottfried, if he could watch after her son. Gottfried responded, “He will be fine,” and Justin’s mother stated, “Make sure my son is OK.” Naively asking the question, and totally oblivious to who the gentleman was, Ms. Sims stepped out on faith and planted a seed that would change the course of her son’s life forever. Being the person that Coach Gottfried was, he accepted the challenge and stuck to his promise. Sadly, Ms. Sims died a short four months later.
Justin completed his seventh through twelfth grade years under the supervision of his grandparents. Living in a state where football is a religion, most of his extracurricular time went to football. He continued to actively participate in youth ministries at church, travel with family members, and become involved with the Team Focus mentoring program and The Elite Chapter of the Mobile Kappa League. Justin believes being trained early as a leader, being held accountable, and early exposure provided him with the core foundation of who he is today.
In 2007, Justin participated in the East Meets West All-American football game and played one season with the UAB Blazers. After playing in every game as a true freshman, Justin began to lose his passion for football and gain an even greater one for being a well-balanced leader. With “collegiate athlete” checked off of his list of goals, Justin was then told by an older classmate and now confidant to “get your grades together and take over your university.” With years of leadership training, Justin was able to put everything he learned during various summer camps to use during his collegiate experience. In doing so, he built a platform that would eventually help Justin cater to youth, parents, educators, and stakeholders in the Birmingham community.
During his college career, Justin was a proud member of the Blazer Male Excellence Network (BMEN), a TRIO participant, president of the Kappa Kappa chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Weekly Service Chair of the Leadership and Service Council, a UAB Student Ambassador, and the president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Justin is very humbled to have been a part of the many organizations at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and attributes much of his leadership skills and collegiate success to the various group participants and counselors.
Prior to graduating, Justin was able to begin his career in the non-profit arena by accepting a director position with the organization that has continuously offered him development opportunities, Team Focus. Taking over as the director of a non-profit that was very established, in the midst of his junior year in college, proved to be quite challenging for Justin. While remembering what he was once taught and being able to utilize great relationships, Justin was able to grow the local non-profit’s chapter by well over 500%.
Graduating from college on his 22nd birthday, Justin continued to direct Team Focus and also began to serve as the project manager for Growing Kings (working with students in grades 4-12). Justin then began to intern for his alma matter and previous collegiate mentoring program, UAB BMEN. He was also able to help publish a success strategies textbook for incoming Black, freshman males, in addition to assisting with writing the curriculum for the course. During this period of working with males age 8-22 years old, Justin was able to really grow and understand the needs of the young men more fully.
Justin recently finished his Master’s in Information Engineering Management. Alongside helping others reach their goals, he is a budding social entrepreneur himself.