The Emerging Leader Award | Center for Leadership | Florida International University | FIU
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The Emerging Leader Lecture: Brandon Okpalobi

In 2013, the Center for Leadership instituted The Emerging Leader Award to recognize a new generation of leaders who are providing innovative solutions to social and business challenges, and improving the quality of life in our community. This award symbolizes the aspiration to transcendent leadership to be pursued by each new generation and to build a better world by creating tangible and practical solutions to some of the most significant challenges faced by our communities. The recipient of the award is recognized at a special lecture where they share their philosophy on leadership and receives $1,000 to further their work in the community.

All nominations of emerging leaders under the age of 40 are welcomed. Nominations are considered by a five-member committee comprised of The Center’s Directors and Advisory Board.


  • About the Lecture

    One DREAM Can Change the World!

    "For those who dare to dream, there is a whole world to win".  Brandon Okpalobi, Founder of Dibia DREAM, will share his story and discuss how his organization, Dibia DREAM, is sparking social change daily through their five pillars: STEM, financial literacy, health and wellness, mentorship and sports. 

  • Date
    Thursday, January 21, 2021


  • Brandon Okpalobi


    A Big Smile + a Big Heart = BIG DREAMS for Brandon Azuka DIBIA Okpalobi, the Nigerian-American, whose name translates to  “master of wisdom and knowledge” in Nigerian Igbo; is the visionary and founder of DIBIA Athletic Development and Dibia DREAM. The comprehensive hybrid organization offers a rigorous blend of athletic, academic, and STEM programming to drive students to academic success, promising careers, and healthy lives. The innovative hybrids create incubators of excellence serving over 5,000 youth in  Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, and internationally in Bermuda and Nigeria with in-person and virtual options. With the support of trusted sponsors and sophisticated technology, more international programming is on the horizon with DREAM Academy, STEM Saturdays, SPARK Summer Institute. 

    Brandon has been recognized for his leadership and prowess for youth programming in STEM and athletic training by Legacy Magazine Miami’s for the 2020 Influential and Powerful Black Professionals, Miami-Dade Black Advisory Board: 2020 Men of Valor, Black Enterprise 2019 BE Modern Man;  Hennessy 2018 V.S.O.P. Privilege Toast; 2016: Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Community Outreach Award, BMe Leader Award Recipient, President Obama Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Community Leadership Award, Brickell Magazine Top 20 Under 40 Professionals.

    “To lead is to serve” is Brandon’s guiding philosophy. His humble beginnings in New Orleans taught him the value of hard work and a good education. He strives to challenge the educational structure by combating opportunity disparities and decreasing the school to prison pipeline. DIBIA is leading the way in serving youth in vulnerable communities and teaching them to DREAM for a brighter tomorrow.

    Okpalobi is a proud alumnus of the University of Miami, where his tenacity and commitment steered his education and athletic career. In 2000, he walked-on to the basketball team to soon become a scholarship student-athlete. He is the proud son of Ochendo Chuka Okpalobi, father, Calla Victoria, mother, and brother to five siblings.

We would also like to thank our university partners, FIU Honors College, for their support.


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