David Prosper should probably write a book.
His childhood and teenage years are essential to what drives his work today, but they also read like a series of plot twists.
“I’ve experienced a lot of tragedy and adversity,” he recalls. “When I was two, my mom was going through a really bad divorce and we were in this country one minute, next minute we got up and dropped off to Haiti — no friends, no family, I didn’t speak Creole or French, I only spoke English. I was traumatized to the point where I didn’t remember my mom when I came back to Florida.
“Then I was kidnapped at 6 years old. ... It was someone my family knew that was not happy about the divorce, and was friends with my father. My mom had a lifetime restraining order against my father, so he couldn’t do it. I was kidnapped from church. I didn’t know what was going on. For years I thought it was just a dream that I got taken away — but when I was in high school, I met the officer who saved me.
“My childhood was an experience of abandonment, neglect, rejection, isolation. I was bullied every single day, had thoughts of suicide. I was an angry kid. My father left, and I just wanted the world to burn, and everyone with it. I was labeled as a menace to society. People in my church called me a thug, my teachers would say, ‘You’re not gonna pass 18, dead or in jail. You’re just a troublemaker.’ So I was like, I embrace that. I’m gonna wreak havoc on everyone’s life. And it felt good.
“But I found a mentor, Dr. Gastrid Harrigan, who saw my potential versus my problems, and that became a different path I decided to take. … Through everything — and with experiencing homelessness, with my family jumping from house to house, with my mom passing away — my faith in God kept me believing that tomorrow can be better than today.”
Today, Prosper is founder and CEO of Shepherd Revolution, a faith-based leadership organization and K-12 leadership academy. Inspired by the example of Jesus as a “revolutionary leader and revolutionary learner,” Prosper has made it his mission to educate and empower people to transform their lives and the lives of those around them.
Other career highlights: He’s a TEDx speaker, equitable alliances new market trainer for Prenda, certified leadership and communication trainer and certified life coach. He played professional football in Ireland. He serves on the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC’s diversity and inclusion board, the Teacher Advisory Committee at Colorado Springs World Affairs Council, and works with Solid Rock Foundation on an initiative to mentor students in Harrison School District 2 to help reduce youth recidivism. In 2020, he launched and hosted a three-day virtual global youth leadership summit. He’s an entrepreneur who is “driven by purpose and impact” and makes a point of caring for the people he meets, and drawing inspiration from his faith.
“My heavenly father, he inspires me as I read the Bible. I take that same love and I give that love to someone else,” he said.
Prosper received several Rising Star nominations. Becca Tonn called him “a spark of light and powerful force for change,” and Mikki Gates described him as “a genuine force who is making our local community and world better through his dedicated actions and tireless efforts.” He’s “transparent, dedicated, selfless,” Crystal Howell wrote.
And Prosper’s goals are clear.
“In five years, we are going to be the No. 1 leadership academy in the Pikes Peak region for K-8,” he said. “In five years, I’ll be running for city council. In 10 years, I will be the mayor of Colorado Springs, and we will start creating healthier families and communities through love-based leadership, and we’ll demolish the invisible walls that we have in our communities, and build bridges instead of silos.
“We’re going to change the game.”
Editors Note: The young professionals featured on these pages are winners of the CSBJ’s Rising Stars awards. Each is an active, engaged member in their communities and at work and were selected by a committee of former winners.