Synovia Moss is one of the fortunate ones; she only needed to look to her parents and close knit family to find role models. The third of four children born to Ira and Peggy Hardy, she grew up in a home where there was a legacy of education and excellence, values both stressed and demonstrated. She and her siblings didn’t disappoint. Her drive, ambition and hard work landed her a volleyball scholarship to the University of Southern California. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from the University of California at Riverside, a master’s degree from California State University-Dominquez Hill in public administration with honors, and has completed her doctoral work in educational leadership at Cardinal Stritch University.
Synovia began her professional career in marketing with IBM and community relations with Anheuser-Busch. She joined the leadership of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), where she had the privilege of working directly with the late civil rights icon, Dr. Dorothy I. Height as National Director of the Black Family Reunion Celebrations, held in seven major U.S. cities (Washington, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Memphis and Los Angeles) with 2.5 million attendees. “Working with Dr. Height at NCNW changed the trajectory of my life and honed my commitment to strategic thinking, civic engagement and community service,” said Moss.
Synovia stayed in California for 20 years and continued to integrate her passion for education, family and community as the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for the School of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University – Fullerton where she designed the award-winning Employee Excellence Training Institute for the college and was the recipient of the Innovative Program Award by the National Association of School Personnel Administrators.
“Eventually I made my way back to Milwaukee for work, and more importantly, to raise my children with a strong work ethic and Midwest values. I also needed the family support system which I had been privileged to receive. It was time to give back to a city that had invested in me and given the opportunity to make a difference, I knew I had a responsibility to do so,” said Moss.
Synovia returned to serve as the Director of Marketing and Special Events at Milwaukee Area Technical College where she led branding and marketing initiatives. She successfully syndicated the gold award winning Redefine Smart advertising campaign and provided oversight of advertising, creative services, media buying, direct mail, website, joint marketing and promotions for the college. She was the first CEO of the Fresh Coast Basketball Classic sponsored by Harley-Davidson to promote historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s) via the NCAA sanctioned tournament.
These days Moss is the Director of Community Engagement & Outreach at Betty Brinn Museum responsible for coordinating a national initiative called Vroom.
“Vroom, a national public awareness campaign of the Bezos Family Foundation, is a free parenting app for children 0-5 that prompts simple, everyday moments of parent-child interactions through fun brain-building activities. New science tells us that our children’s first five years are when they develop the foundation for all future learning. During this time a child’s brain undergoes an impressive amount of change, reaching 92% of its adult brain size. Vroom helps to translate the science behind the brain’s executive functions into easy, actionable tips that encourage back and forth interaction between parents and young children to support the healthy development of children. The Bezos Family Foundation is forging relationships with communities, national organizations and systems to adopt Vroom messages and integrate the tools into their work with families.”
The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum became the anchor organization for the Vroom initiative in Milwaukee with the support of the Herzfeld Foundation. Vroom awareness efforts continue to expand nationally and locally encouraging the partnership of states, cities and regions across the country to engage trusted messengers to bring the tools to parents and caregivers. The goal is to layer Vroom where children stay, play, pay and pray.
“Vroom teaches parents and caregivers how every day moments are brain building moments with children and it is an amazing community engagement initiative that has tremendous impact. When parents are empowered to understand that they already have what it takes to be brain builders, and understand the power of their interactions with children, it builds a strong foundation for success for children,” said Moss.
Essentially, parents are taught to follow five brain-building steps: 1) Look at what catches your child’s eyes to see what they’re interested in; 2) follow by responding to your child’s words, sounds, actions and ideas; 3) chat with your child, even if their sounds and gestures aren’t words yet; 4) take turns talking, playing and exploring with your child; and 5) Stretch—extend your child’s thinking and learning by asking follow-up questions. According to this initiative, those are the skills needed for kindergarten readiness that help build a strong foundation in children’s lives.
“We train and prepare community groups and organizers on the science behind Vroom, and show them how to implement the work that they do. We currently have more than 60 community groups/ organizations, 100 child care centers, 150 plus churches and other organizations partnering with us to spread the Vroom, brain-building message. I am to have a larger role with the Vroom expansion throughout the state of Wisconsin. My new job and joy comes from integrating Vroom into systems (health care, schools, child care, regional centers, etc.) so that Vroom is sustainable in Milwaukee and beyond. When parents are empowered to understand that they already have what it takes to be a brain builder, they understand the power to build their child’s brain architecture and capabilities to learn which helps all of our children,” said Moss.
Moss shares that the success she has enjoyed throughout her careers comes, in part, because of the support and ‘village’ she was blessed to have growing up.
“For me, I always acknowledge faith in God, strong support of family/community, unbelievable life experiences and the concept of the village that helped me on my journey. It’s important to remember that when given so much, we must give back. It’s important to talk about how we have to collectively work together, and cross bridges and chasms to work in new ways, in order to get to new outcomes,” she said.
Moss is giving back—to the community and her family—and in doing so, she is proud of the successes that she is witnessing within her own family. Married to husband, Duane, she has two daughters—Camille, who attends Harvard Law School and Kendall, a senior at Clark Atlanta University and recently named Beacon Fellow where she will study abroad in Spain this summer.
“I’m grateful that my children are embracing the legacy of education and excellence that was given to me, and passed down to them. Kendall won a Division I national championship in women’s field hockey at the University of Connecticut, but wanted to transfer to Clark Atlanta because she wanted to broaden her horizons with an historically Black college or university (HBCU) experience,” said Moss who knows that she is blessed.