Brandon Nicholson, PhD, RBS 2001

Founding Executive Director, Hidden Genius Project


An Oakland native, Brandon has always felt a deep sense of commitment to promoting equity in the public realm, particularly in the education space. At Princeton University, Brandon pursued his thirst for thinking about solutions to public issues by studying public policy in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Though his main focus was in educational policy, he had the opportunity to engage in semester-long policy task forces on family law (particularly with regards to how child support payments are distributed to families receiving public assistance) and undocumented immigration enforcement policies. Upon graduating from Princeton University in 2005, he received– the Priscilla Glickman ’92 Memorial Prize– which honors “independence and imagination in the area of service”. In 2010 Brandon earned a PhD in Education Policy from UC Berkeley.

Previously, he was a Senior Associate at Social Policy Research Associates (SPR), where he conducted research, evaluation, and analysis across a range of key social policy areas. Brandon has conducted substantial research in the areas of education and youth development, with a particular focus on issues of equity and access in K-12 education for underserved populations. He has considerable experience investigating linkages among race, class, and youth development.

Today, Brandon is the Founding Executive Director of the Hidden Genius Project. The mission of this organization, launched by fellow Ron Brown Scholar colleagues—Jason Young, Ty Moore, Errol Saunders II and Michael McDaniels— who were unnerved by the dramatic juxtaposition between the high unemployment of Black male youth and the plethora of career opportunities within the local technology sector. To address this challenge, the founders established a program to connect young Black males with the skills, mentors, and experiences that they need to become high-performing entrepreneurs and technologists in a 21st century, global economy.