Elhajamin “Haj” Young has more than 20 years of experience working in the energy and financial services industries. He is currently the chief executive officer of Econergy where he leads a team focused on energy management, innovative program creation, renewable energy generation and asset development. He also owns a consulting firm that manages financial, operational and corporate functions of enterprises seeking to grow, reorganize and raise debt or equity financing. Previously he was the chief financial officer of an electrical contracting and telecommunications firm where he managed several installation crews and created significant value for stakeholders. He earned a BS degree in political science and performance studies, with a minor in Spanish language, from Northwestern University.

What was the focus of your studies at Northwestern?
I focused on classes that incorporated topics in economics and political science. It was my intention to learn more about how policies impacted people’s lives, what access they had to resources/capital and how I might improve outcomes for people. 

How did you develop your interest in energy and management? I’ve always been interested in renewable energy and concerned about how brown energy generation and distribution has traditionally had an adverse effect on our environment. I am passionate about protecting the world’s natural resources and finding ways to power our lives and support the global economy in a safe and sustainable manner.

How did you arrive at your current position with Econergy?Organically. Back in April 2018, I was attending a memorial service at Parker for one of my favorite educators and a woman for whom I have profound love and respect, Lil Lowry. While not everyone may have agreed with the way she disciplined as the Dean of Students, there was no questioning her love and dedication to Parker, its students, faculty, staff and community. Anyone who knew Lil Lowry also knew she loved her family, and if you were lucky enough to be close to her, she treated you like family. At Lil’s service, I ran into Marty Morris, who was in the class ahead of mine at Parker. We started reminiscing about Lil, our high school days and current jobs. I told him about my consulting company, and he talked about some of his colleagues working in the renewable energy space. Marty and I saw the potential connection to work together and the rest (as they say) is history!

What do you find most satisfying about that work?
It challenges me, pushes me and encourages me to make a difference with the work we do every day. I also get to manage a talented group of motivated individuals who care as much about their jobs as they do about the customers, schools, students, teachers, companies and communities we serve.

What is Tactfully Resolved? What are some of its accomplishments?
Tactfully Resolved is a consulting company that I founded in 2015. We have helped a number of clients raise funds and get access to capital, performed workouts for those in financial distress, reorganized under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code and represented firms as their advisor in a number of legal disputes.

Were there people or activities at Parker that influenced choices you made after graduating?
Are you kidding? The entire learning experience at Parker completely changed the trajectory of my life. There is no question that, as a resident of the Cabrini Green Housing projects for most of my childhood, I would be at a different place if I didn’t attend Parker. I learned as much from my fellow classmates as I did from the formal in-school instruction. I don’t want to start naming specific classmates who influenced me the most because I would surely leave someone out; suffice it to say that I learned from and had positive experiences with every single person in my class. The beauty of the class sizes at Parker is that it gives you a chance to spend time with everyone.

As far as teachers, again it is tough to start naming which ones had the greatest influence. Patrick McHale and Dr. Marie Stone both taught me and were my Advisors. McHale first encouraged me to look at Parker. I was considering Latin at the time. If it were not for him, I probably would not have visited and ultimately applied to Parker. Dr. Stone advised me after my first year when things got tough. She was my mentor and my rock. If it were not for her, I might not have stuck it out and stayed at Parker. Other teachers and figures who loom large in my mind when I think about Parker are Lucius Bell, with whom I had a great relationship (which continues to this day) and who I looked up to and admired. Similarly, Mrs. Hikawa, Mrs. Rossof, Mrs. Seebold, Mr. Banks, Mr. Duffy, Mrs. Wagner, Mr. Leary, Mr. McCutcheon, and the list goes on. We really were blessed with great teachers.
All of these people helped me push toward progress, believe I could affect change and ultimately find the courage to follow my dreams after I graduated from Parker.

What are some of your favorite Parker memories?
I loved all the little things. Sitting with friends of all grades on the cat boxes or benches in the front hall near the pay phones. I loved the excitement of big school group activities like County Fair, Big Brothers/Big Sisters day, 12 Days of Christmas and the window painting, provocative discussion in class about current events, cast parties after musicals, visiting with friends at their homes after school or on weekends and traveling on the school bus to compete at track meets or away golf tourneys.

What do you enjoy doing with your time outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I still love to play golf, flag football, Ultimate Frisbee, bike and run! I am working on a project with my grandmother to compile her life story into a book of hope, which we expect will inspire and unite people. It has been a long time coming but we are confident we will get it published this year. I am the president of my choir at church and the president of a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization we officially launched last year. It is an educational organization called The LEAD IT Foundation, and our mission is to help eliminate gun violence and inspire at-risk youth to be leaders in underprivileged communities in Chicago and eventually across the United States.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I want to encourage the Parker community to keep up the progressive legacy and keep pushing toward positive change in the world. Let’s come together and continue to support each other! Love on your family and friends and spend as much time together as you can. Nurture new relationships, make amends, forgive and rekindle old relationships. If there is one thing living through COVID has taught me, it is that nothing is promised or guaranteed, so we cannot take anything for granted. All those projects that you have been meaning to do because you know they will benefit others—please start to do them now. The world needs Parker-minded people, now more than ever!
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.