Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Columbia – City Manager’s Office
Job description:Perform work of considerable difficulty leading the development and implementation of proactive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in support of the city’s strategic plan to create a working environment where all have an opportunity to succeed.
I am a diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioner. I’m also skilled in organizational development and community convening/engagement.
Hometown: Ypsilanti, Michigan
Years lived in Columbia: 13 years
Favorite volunteer/community activity: I’m the co-convener for the Source Summit Global, which is led by Dr. Lester Woods Jr., our convener and founder. Through our convenings we bring faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, and corporations together to address social and economic disparities within our community.
Favorite recent project: Helping instruct the Cycle of Success Training (COST) program in partnership with Moberly Area Community College. Through this training program, we help individuals explore the life skills and soft skills necessary to gain upward mobility in their career opportunities.
A Columbia business person you admire and why: Brittany Hilderbrand of Writers Block LLC. Brittany is a very impressive, charismatic, and intelligent businesswoman who has been a valuable asset to the Columbia community. Her business acumen and influence have helped raise the bar for entrepreneurs of color in this community.
Why you are passionate about your job: I’m passionate about the work that I do because I know I’m called by God to build strong communities. The work I do through the city of Columbia is a part of my assignment, which involves developing a cultural environment that honors the humanity of each individual while striving to make Columbia a place where everyone can live, learn, and grow.
Why you are passionate about your company: I’m passionate about the city of Columbia because I know that I work with amazing people who genuinely want to serve the community.
If you weren’t doing this for a living, you would: Still be involved in community building, because it is my God-given purpose.
What people should know about your profession: As a DEI practitioner, I get the opportunity to explore new concepts that support the nuanced complexity of human social behavior. Every day is an opportunity to learn something you didn’t once know before and use that knowledge to better those around you.
The next challenge facing your industry: The next challenge facing DEI work is overcoming the misaligned agenda of bigotry and hate within our communities and our country overall.
Your next professional goal: I would have to say my next professional goal is to become a reputable consultant in the DEI space that helps organizations build capacity and develop equitable target goals.
Biggest lesson learned in business: I would consider myself to be a serial entrepreneur, and one thing that I’ve learned in business is that a quality team will place you in the fast lane for success.
How you want to impact the Columbia community: By leaving a legacy of good works and immeasurable acts of kindness. When I’m no longer here I want others to know that I cared about this community and displayed my affinity through altruistic acts of service.
Greatest strength: My desire to see others reach their greatest potential.
Greatest weakness: My huge heart leads me to overextend myself at times.
What you do for fun: I’m an avid sports fan so I love attending live sporting events and keeping up with the latest sports news. I also love museums and science centers (anything educational and interactive).
Family: Most of my immediate family is from both Michigan and Georgia. Growing up in southeast Michigan definitely made me the man I am today, but if you know me you know my southern roots are noticeably robust.
Favorite place in Columbia: North Village Arts District.
Accomplishment you are most proud of: Helping found the live music and special entertainment company Soul Sessions CoMo, LLC. Through this endeavor, I’ve been able to blend my love for soulful music with my passion for building inclusive communities. This is a great cultural experience that has been truly beneficial for the Columbia community.
Most people don’t know that: I have a blog that I dedicated to a close friend of mine named Keifor Johnson who died in 2018. The name of the blog is Black Label / Code NOIR and it serves as a think tank for black male consciousness as well as critical conversations on social issues.