In 1992, out celebrating a new job, closing the club, and heading to a friend’s house, he blacked out, crossed the median on Sunset, and killed a man driving a car going in the other direction. Drinking and driving gave Keith 18 years 3 months 8 days in prison with a DUI fatality charge. Sober now for many, many years, Keith has found his calling. He speaks to high school students about diversity, inclusion, bullying, responsibility, and distracted and impaired driving.
Keith A. Somers, Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Keith A. Somers International Foundation, was born in the 60’s and raised in the suburbs of Southeastern Pennsylvania, thirty minutes outside metropolitan Philadelphia and just two hours away from Lancaster County, PA, also known as “Amish Country.” Keith’s community was predominately Jewish with smaller clusters of Italians, Germans, Poles, and a very small enclave of Afro-Americans.
He was raised with traditional, Catholic family values in an all-American household complete with biological mother, father, and an older brother. His childhood, judging from the outside, was basically unremarkable. Keith participated in all sorts of extra-curricular activities, such as Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Eagle Scouts. He was a Cadet in the USAF-Civil Air Patrol, he played trumpet in the Stage Band and High School Marching Band. He turned professional photographer by age 12, working free-lance for the Philadelphia Bulletin and Ambler Gazette Newspapers.
Yet internally speaking, his reality was not so idyllic. Being the byproduct of the multi-ethnic union between his Afro-American father and his Italian/East-Indian mother, Keith had to endure significant ethnic and class prejudice from his peers, and his community at large. He battled many deep seated, emotional issues throughout his childhood and on into his teenage years, at which time Keith found relief from his demons through drugs and alcohol consumption.
After years of being a teenage celebrity and working as a professional performing artist (singing, dancing and acting), Keith decided at the age of 21 to turn his dreams into reality and moved to Southern California.
Needing to survive while simultaneously pursuing his dream of becoming a successful actor, Keith began work as a security guard. Becoming quickly disillusioned with that job’s prospects, he sought employment elsewhere, and quickly converted vocations within the security field as a trained, licensed and bonded Executive Protection Specialist (aka: body guard).
After nearly six consecutive years of working as a body-guard to the rich and famous, Keith landed his most lucrative contract in November 1992. The very next day, he decided to go out and celebrate his good fortune at a popular restaurant/nightclub on the infamous Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.
At 2 o’clock the next morning, Keith and his friends left the restaurant/nightclub, and shortly thereafter, he was the initiating party in a multi-car collision which resulted in the death of another young man and multiple injuries suffered by the survivors.
Keith was charged and convicted of Second Degree Murder, and given a life sentence in the State Prison. Determined to come to terms with the magnitude and gravity of his actions, Keith embarked on lifelong quest for complete spiritual and physical recovery. While incarcerated on his life term, Keith availed himself and benefited from every available form of rehabilitation inside or outside the prison walls.
Then, after 18 1/4 consecutive years of model behavior and after nearly a half-dozen parole hearings, Keith was finally released from state prison on parole.
After serving nearly two decades and making a successful re-entry back into his community, Keith is determined to take every ounce of experience, strength, hope, and wisdom that he gleaned through his “trial by fire” and give back to the world at large by paying it forward through all of his remaining days.
His life’s mission is to effectively change the future of our world beginning with the piece of our society most responsible for our future: the youth of today.