Tucker Stevens, Amplio’s newest managing director, is one of the many young and driven entrepreneurs inciting positive social change in the Raleigh-Durham community.
Tucker was born just after his twin sister making him the youngest of five. He had a modest childhood, growing up in a cozy home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“My siblings were my best friends,” Tucker reminisces of his tight-knit family. “We played baseball in the backyard and had family dinner almost every single night.”
His love for sports carried on into middle and high school, where he played both soccer and basketball at his small Baptist private school. When it came time to graduate with his class of 42 seniors, 8 of them went on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tucker and his twin sister included.
At UNC, Tucker studied business, with a focus on entrepreneurship and sustainability—and didn’t waste any time putting his knowledge to work. He went into software sales, and even launched his own business selling a product he designed for his entrepreneurship class—a self-leveling picture frame.
When a professor told him he needed to patent the frame, Tucker took the advice, and even moved to Austin, Texas where he could grow the business, surrounded by experienced mentors. He spent his days freelancing and coaching sports, and “free time” growing the business, but sidelined it after realizing it wouldn’t be profitable long-term.
Tucker moved again, this time to Maryland where he took part in a 9-month residential post-grad program at Trinity Forum Academy. While there, he completed a research thesis on non-profit operations and philanthropic ethicacy—a complex subject, to say the least.
“Basically, it looked at the dichotomy between philanthropy and charity. What are the ethics of sacrificing short-term for the long-term? How should we view spending money on valuable human capital even if it delays opposing short-term options?” Tucker explains.
The thesis piqued his interest in profit and nonprofit social impact. He returned to Raleigh-Durham, eager to use his acquired knowledge and experience to make a difference in the community.
Together, with a team of individuals, they launched ReCity, a “hub for social impact”. Their 12,000 square foot facility serves as a shared space for “collaboration that results in meaningful, systemic, and transforming change for Durham’s community.”
“It brought together nonprofits and for-profits—all the resources in one place, one big building with housing and education and employment,” explains Tucker, who also says, “It set me up phenomenally well for what I’m doing now for Amplio.”
So how did this Raleigh entrepreneur become connected to a refugee staffing business located 400 miles away? A timely connection.
After two years of serving as Director of Operations, Tucker was ready for his next venture. “The chair of the ReCity board had met Luke (Keller), and when I ran into him he said, ‘Oh, you’ve gotta meet this guy!’ That morning I had been at a coffee shop, applying for a job—two hours after that I’m sitting at Panera with Luke. It was the most philanthropic effort I’d seen, yet it’s for-profit. After an hour of talking I knew I was going to do it.”
“It” was connecting local businesses to the Refugee Workforce, in Raleigh-Durham as Amplio’s newest Managing Director.
Tucker hit the ground running, reconnecting with local businesses and immersing himself in the refugee community. Finishing a contract already begun prior, he started six refugees with jobs at Canopy Lawn Care within just weeks of being hired.
With its heavily refugee-populated community and abundance of socially-minded businesses, Tucker has already secured several other contracts with Raleigh-Durham companies, and is certain there will be many more on the horizon.
The only “problem”, he says is, “Now I have a list of businesses I want to start in order to hire refugees!”
Tucker is the descendent of two families with very different American Dream experiences. On one side, his grandparents immigrated to America, fleeing persecution in World War II. On the other, his great-grandparents were born into poverty and worked their way up to become employers in their own community. This family history and his faith has contributed to Tucker’s passion to create opportunity for all people groups to flourish.
“When I first met Tucker, I knew he was the perfect fit for our managing director in Raleigh-Durham,” says company President, Luke Keller. “He’s incredibly gifted in sales and operations, and cares deeply for the refugee community. His attention to detail and his intentionality in serving our clients with excellence is bar none.”
“I’ve been blown away by every refugee I meet,” he shares. “The things they’ve gone through… I am constantly reminded of how impressive these people are and how deserving they are of a reasonable life, a reasonable wage.”