Ashanti Branch

Ashanti Branch
Founder and Executive Director, The Ever Forward Club
The Mask You Live In
Overview: The Ever Forward Club’s (EFC) Taking Off The Mask workshop helps to unlock organizational potential by cultivating emotional intelligence and psychological safety in the workplace.  Recent research from Google, Harvard, and other institutions suggest that the most critical factor for team effectiveness is “psychological safety” - an environment with a high degree of interpersonal trust and respect where team members can take risks without concern of embarrassment, rejection, or punishment.  Through its bold and innovative approach, Taking Off The Mask challenges leaders and team members to reconsider how they show up at work – and transform the way they interact with and relate to each other.  

Our Approach: Taking Off The Mask is a highly experiential workshop that creates a safe space for individuals and teams to engage in an uncommonly open, honest dialogue.  EFC recognizes that each person has a set of shared human needs - for support, expression, recognition, meaning, and connection.  By closing the gap between who we are on the inside and who we show up as at work, we create more meaningful connections, healthier communication, deeper engagement - and ultimately more powerful results.  
Attendees will experience various exercises to explore topics such as self-awareness, authenticity, and compassion, both towards oneself and others. Through hands-on activities, discussion and video participants learn about “the mask” that we each wear and discuss what it means to take the mask off and provide an entry point for organizations to understand ways to create more psychological safety among their employees and High Performance teams. 



Ashanti Branch works to change how young men of color interact with their education and how their schools interact with them. Raised in Oakland by a single mother on welfare, Ashanti left the inner city to study civil engineering at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo. A construction project manager in his first career, his life changed after he tutored struggling students and realized his passion for teaching. In 2004, during Ashanti’s first year teaching high school math, he started The Ever Forward Club to provide support for African American and Latino males who were not achieving to their potential. Since then, Ever Forward has helped all of its more than 150 members graduate from high school, and 93% of them have gone on to attend two- or four-year colleges, military or trade school.


The Ever Forward Club was featured last year in the documentary, “The Mask You Live In,” which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. After completing a fellowship at the Stanford in 2016, Ashanti, stepped away from working for a school district and began working as the Founding Executive Director for Ever Forward-Siempre Adelante, in an effort to grow the organization to serve thousands of Bay Area students. In April 2017, Ashanti was awarded a fellowship from the national organization CBMA - Campaign for Black Male Achievement.