Board of Directors

Introducing our Board of Directions.

Project Optimism, Inc. is guided by a board of 7 Directors that resides throughout California and the United States. Occupationally, the board is made up of College Professors, K-12 Education, Social Workers, Medical and Finance Professionals, and School District Personnel. Each director brings a unique skill set to the organization, all are committed to bettering historically underserved communities. 

Ishmael Pruitt - CoFounder/CEO

Ishmael Pruitt - CoFounder/CEO

Ishmael Pruitt is a California native that has years of experience serving as a Student Affairs professional, working in both university and community college settings. Ishmael earned his Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from California State University, Sacramento and Master’s degree in Counseling at California State University, Long Beach. These disciplines have given him the lens to understand social structures and the community members within. All of which guide Project Optimism.

Armoni Easley Co-Founder & CEO

Armoni Easley Co-Founder & CEO

Armoni Easley is a social entrepreneur who is dedicated to empowering community members with an optimistic mindset and properly equipping them with resources to become productive contributors to society. A vibrant, passionate and recognized community leader, Armoni has deep-rooted influence throughout Northern California, where he has developed over a decade of work serving as a counselor, community outreach worker,....

Briana Osbourne

Briana Osbourne

Briana Osbourne is a Sacramento Native and proud alumna of Howard University. Briana has spent over 10 years serving youth and families with a special focus on uplifting the voices of those in the child welfare system. Briana also had the esteemed privilege of being named one of the White House Champion of Change recipients for her foster care advocacy under the Obama Administration. Briana’s commitment to empowering her community is demonstrated by her continuous service to youth and families.

Damariyé L. Smith

Damariyé L. Smith

Damariyé L. Smith is doctoral candidate at the University of Memphis in Memphis, TN. He currently teaches college courses at the University of Memphis and Arkansas State University Mid-South in Communication, Rhetoric, and Writing. He earned his Bachelor's of Arts and Master's of Arts degrees in Communication from California State University, Sacramento.

Sarah Toutant Ph.D

Sarah Toutant Ph.D

Sarah Toutant is a Ph.D. Candidate in Urban Education Policy at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education and Researcher at the USC Race and Equity Center. She also holds a B.A. in Sociology and Critical Diversity Studies from the University of San Francisco and an M.Ed. from USC Rossier. Her research critically examines the intersections of gender, race, and racism in higher education. Sarah is also a public speaker and equity consultant. As a trained researcher and pr

Robert Ceaser

Robert Ceaser

Robert Ceaser is a Long Beach CA native. Robert moved to Sacramento, CA in 2012 to receive his B.A. in Communications- Public Relations from Sacramento State. He then obtained his M.S. in Entertainment Business from Full Sail University and M.A. in Education - Organizational Learning & Effectiveness from the University of Pacific. Since Then he has worked with various schools and districts throughout Sacramento. Robert enjoys being a catalyst for at-promise youth and empowering them.

Josef Gray

Josef Gray

Josef Gray is the Director of Sacramento for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and a Sacramento native. He became involved with the juvenile justice system as a teenager, and these experiences stemmed his dedication to helping others coming from similar backgrounds and circumstances. He has been a dedicated volunteer with Project Optimism since its inception.

Words From The Community

Words from our students

"I valued the support and resources that Project Optimism always had available for me. As a student and aspiring entrepreneur, this program showed me the value of making real connections and having mentors with the same goals and passions as you do."

—  Ukamaka Ezimora, Student