If ever anyone has had the deck stacked against him from the start, Steve Pemberton would be the one.
Taken from his mother at three years old and placed into foster care with a Polish surname, Pemberton moved from one family to another and endured physical and psychological abuse and quickly learned he had no one to trust but himself for survival.
“Though I had no memory of my mother or father, I was consciously aware that I had been left behind,” Pemberton said in an interview with his publisher. “And unfortunately, I wound up with foster families who always reminded me of that hard fact. Still, I held out hope that my family was going to come for me. They were to be my savior. But after a decade in the foster home, I realized that they were not going to come for me; that no one, in fact, was going to come for me.”
He hoarded food and figured out how to navigate the cruelty of being treated as an outsider as a fair-skinned boy with blue eyes, a curly afro and a Polish last name. He found refuge in a box of books given to him by a stranger and it was among those worm-eatened pages that Pemberton discovered it was possible to live a different kind of life and that he could follow his dream to find his true identity and his birth family.
“In many ways, although I appeared to most to be quiet and withdrawn, within my own mind, I was constantly fighting back. I would steal food, complete with escape routes and explanations if I were ever to get caught,” Pemberton said. “Another very important way of coping was to immerse myself in books. There was no signature moment, at least early on, but I imagine I discovered books as part of going to school. Books for me were what the ocean is to the fearless explorer—deep and mysterious, boundless and soothing. They made me an outstanding student in school. My teachers marveled at my curiosity and I marveled in return at their encouragement. Their smiles meant more to me than they could have ever imagined.”
He overcame those great difficulties to become chief diversity officer and vice president of diversity and inclusion at Monster.com, where under his leadership revenues in his division grew by 60 percent.
He is now chief diversity officer and divisional vice president for Walgreens, the first person to hold such a position in the company’s 110-year history, and is recognized as one of the country’s leaders on diversity issues.
Pemberton serves on several boards including The Home for Little Wanderers and UCAN to provide guidance and inspiration to children in need. The Pemberton Fund For The Future has been established in his name to assist children aging out of the foster care system in Boston.
His memoir, "A Chance in the World. A Chance In The World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home" (Thomas Nelson), chronicles the difficult path through foster care and determined search for his family, how he handled disappointment and was buoyed by education and faith.
“Tragedy is regrettably commonplace,” Pemberton said, “but we aren’t measured by what we inherit but by what we build. And I wanted that responsibility of breaking a cycle. I also felt there came a time when I simply had to be done with it all and had made a conscious decision to do exactly that. I decided I would move forward, resolute that healing would come from building a life better than the one I inherited. That became my guiding principle as I went off to college, graduate school and built a professional career and started a family.”
The Boston College graduate is married and the father of three children.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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