Destiny Reid, assistant director for strategy and programs in the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion, is among the first cohort chosen for the inaugural CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellowship. The program provides the opportunity for CEO Action signatories to advance societal racial equity through public policy. With nearly 250 employees from over 100 organizations, this is the biggest fellowship of its kind, governed by 20 CEOs from multiple industries and regions.
The fellowship aims to attract individuals with a wide range of skills who are energized by policy-driven social impact work. Destiny has a proven record, with a passion for politics, education and issues related to improving the lives of those in the foster care system. “I love being part of creating policy. I interned in the United States Senate in D.C. on policy surrounding foster care and education when I was a rising junior at East Carolina University,” she said.
Foster care is particularly important to Destiny, who grew up in the system and developed her diversity, equity and inclusion lens as a result. “I was raised by Caucasians until I was 12 or 13, so I thought that the world saw me as an equal up until that time,” she said. “When I moved into my Black, successful family—both went to college, the American dream—it was really eye-opening to [suddenly face] stereotypes and biases. That’s what sparked my interest in DEI work and coming into this space…in particular, my interest in how it impacts education. This is an opportunity for me to learn a different way to approach policy on education and add to [legislative] policy happening in the U.S. and also in corporations.”
When CEO Action brought their Check Your Blind Spots bus tour to the UNC campus in 2019 (UNC became a signatory of the program), the interactive mobile installation that taught nuances of unconscious bias made a powerful impact on Destiny. “I was so impressed by how comprehensive their messaging was. It was clear that they were serious about bringing about change…and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Fellows in the program will identify and assess current policies in four key areas: healthcare, education, economic empowerment and public safety, and then recommend how existing polices can be amplified, changed to meet its intended purpose or propose new policies. They will then review polices through four key criteria: impact, effort, risk and status.
The only fellow from UNC-Chapel Hill, Destiny was assigned education as her focus, which is one of her primary interests. “I want to look at the hiring process in higher education, how it affects individuals and how it can be more equitable. I want to learn about economic empowerment surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion and how it applies to education. I’m also interested in what we can do for K-12 policy.”
As a fellow, she will conduct research on education policy, formulate ideas and then present them to the heads of the Fellowship so that she and her team can be matched to corporations who will evaluate their policies. From there, they will develop a plan and implement it. The corporations provide racial equity insights and analytic tools and a fellowship knowledge library.
Admittedly competitive, Destiny says, “I’m pretty confident in myself and with the team. I just want to take in as much knowledge and learn as much as I can. I’m a learner by nature. I cannot be complacent. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m so excited to be part of the inaugural group.”
Written by Adrianne Gibilisco