LeQuan Hylton moved from Martinsville to Richmond in 1998. The city made an unexpected impression on him.
"It was my first contact with people who were homeless," he says. "And really, it bothered me that people lived in such conditions."
So he started a homeless outreach program through his church, throwing himself at the problem by leading initiatives to provide free meals. It was in graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University's Wilder School of Government and Public affairs that he was introduced to another challenge: the substandard housing that's available to the working poor.
Hylton thought he could help. He got his real estate license, and with his mother, Sharon Hilton, launched a company dedicated to providing high-quality, affordable housing. So far, they manage six properties and have plans to grow.
"We do a lot of work to make sure they're nice," he says. "That's the kind of housing we wanted to provide — places we'd actually live in ourselves."
On top of his company and charitable work, Hylton holds down a high-powered day job at the Department of Defense, where he's managing the implementation of a major information technology project — an enterprise management system that handles finances, human resources, contracting and billing. It will be used by all branches of the armed services and, when finalized, will be the largest such system in the world.
And as an officer in the Army Reserve, he's also responsible for training about 100 people how to use the program.
Considering what he's accomplished, it isn't surprising that at 31 years old, his church, St. Paul's Baptist Church, has given him a lifetime achievement award. But Hylton is far from finished.
"I want to be one of those people that, when I die, I'm just exhausted," he says, "like I've gotten everything out of me."