The Central Ohio Community on LinkUS’ Impact

Central Ohio is home to a vibrant community of thinkers, dreamers and doers. The city’s residents are experiencing the growth of Columbus firsthand and stand to gain so much from the accessibility, connectivity and opportunities that LinkUS is creating. Explore their stories with us and see how their lives will be touched by a more connected community.

As the voice of our explanatory video series, Javier breaks down the biggest ideas behind LinkUS in a way that is engaging and accessible. Javier is a Columbus native who has personally experienced the region’s growth, and he’s a passionate advocate for building a more equitable and prosperous community for this generation and all those who follow.

Javier is recognized both nationally and internationally as a leader in developing effective strategies for youth and community mobilization. His experience and expertise come from more than 20 years of work with the Youth to Youth International Program. Javier specializes in helping teens and their adult allies eh p In 2003 he was awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Developing Leaders in Reducing Substance Abuse Fellowship and is a graduate of the Ray Miller Institute for Change and Leadership.

His company, R.E.A.C.H. Communications, Inc. (Reaching Excellence in Attitude, Character, and Health) is a boutique marketing firm that uses the “by youth, for youth” approach to create cutting-edge health and wellness messages and communication strategies that effectively reach and engage our most disenfranchised communities and vulnerable populations.

Javier has written two books, a children’s book for fathers and daughters entitled “Look in My Mirror” and a book designed to help students, artists, activists, and entrepreneurs add process to their passion entitled “From This Moment On.”

“I want to plant seeds.” For Malik, recreation administrative manager at Columbus Recreation and Parks, this growth mindset is foundational to his worldview. Since moving to Columbus on his 8th birthday in 1979, Malik has watched the landscape of our region grow and change.

As the youngest of seven children, he vividly remembers all-hands-on-deck bus trips to the grocery store to help carry the bags home. What started as a functional necessity soon grew into a vital resource for Malik’s independence, connecting him to needed services and the local arts scene.

Malik intentionally instilled that same sense of independence in his own children, teaching them how to plan trips, transfer lines and navigate our growing city without a car. Freedom of movement and connection was an instrumental part of Malik’s personal growth, which is part of why he is such a strong advocate for LinkUS.

“There are those millions of folks that we’re expecting to come into our city,” says Malik. Over the years, he has watched not only Central Ohio grow, but the number of opportunities.

For Malik, LinkUS answers these crucial questions: “LinkUS is doing exactly what it needs to do in this city to support the millions of people who are going to arrive in Columbus,” says Malik. “LinkUS is planting a seed so that, years from now, we have a full blown tree.”