Changemakers

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Harvard Culture Lab’s Changemakers conversation series explores new ideas, innovations, and inspirations as we build a culture of inclusion in higher education and beyond.

We'll meet with changemakers—across professional fields and academic disciplines—to find out what works, what we can do better, and how we can work together to advance equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

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Larry Bacow, Harvard University President

Lawrence S. Bacow, the 29th president of Harvard University shares insights about diversity as a pathway to excellence, experiencing imposter syndrome, and juggling it all.

Transcript

Harvard Culture Lab Changemakers conversation series with Larry Bacow

Speakers sit facing each other, six feet apart, in a Harvard classroom of wooden floors, painted walls, and a crimson rug.

Sherri Charleston: Hello, I’m Sherri Charleston, and this is the Culture Lab. The Culture Lab is a space where community of innovators can think through the challenges of creating culture change for inclusion and belonging. On each episode of this series, we’ll have an opportunity to engage with this community and think about how we advance diversity, inclusion, and belonging in complex organizations and institutions. We’re going to start with what we know best, Harvard University.

Harvard is a university that its known for its competitiveness and also its excellence. We’re going to dig into the paradox of how this institution on its pathway towards continued excellence thinks about remaining an elite institution while not being elitist. There is no better person to start this inaugural conversation with than Larry Bacow, the 29th president of Harvard University. So Larry, you have been a stalwart champion for diversity and inclusion. In fact, you’ve talked about diversity and inclusion as the pathway to excellence. That’s language that I got from you actually. You committed to defending affirmative action in the affirmative action cases and you are known for really being a courageous leader in higher education around these issues. So, give us a sense of why you’ve been so committed to this.

Larry Bacow: First, thank you very much for the kind words. I always talk about diversity as a pathway to excellence because I’m an economist, and I think about things in terms of talent. And we can never hope to accomplish as much if we sample from only a fraction of the distribution of talent that’s available to us than we can if we sample from all of it.

It’s also the case that once we have the talent in place, it’s important that people have an opportunity to thrive, that they can be their best selves, they can do their best work. And if we expect to get the most out of people, we have to create an environment where that’s possible. And so I think that our commitment to diversity, excellence, inclusion, belonging is really all about supporting excellence. In the end, that’s what Harvard’s all about.

SC: I think that makes complete sense to me. We’ve used that same language, that diversity is really our pathway to excellence in many ways, if we’re going to continue to be an excellent institution. We really have to think about how we want to maximize all the available talent that we have. You once told me that the mark of a good leader is the ability to pick people and problems. This past year, you’ve spoken out forcefully against a variety of problems, anti-Asian violence, anti-Semitism, you’ve spoken out in support of Black lives. You’ve even called out white supremacy using that exact language, in fact. And then you went on to sue the Trump administration and won over anti-immigration policies. Tell us what motivated you to do this.

LB: One of the privileges of being president of Harvard is that you’re afforded a bully pulpit. It’s the kind of thing that, actually, I think you have to use sparingly because if you try and get up and pronounce too frequently on a variety of topics, people tune you out. So I’ve tried to be careful when I use my voice. But on issues that relate to immigration, for example, on issues that relate to how we treat the most vulnerable among us, I think about my own life, my own experience.

Both my parents were immigrants, they were both refugees coming to this country. When I thought about the efforts of the prior administration to enact regulations that would limit immigration to this country only to those who already spoke English, people who already had a demonstrable skill, people who had the resources to be able to demonstrate at the time of immigration, for example, that they would not become a ward of the state,

I thought of my own parents who had none of those. They didn’t speak English, they had no skills, they had no resources. My mother was an orphan coming to this country with one suitcase. If those [regulations] had been in place, I wouldn’t be here today.

What I think my parents were looking for—what I think so many others are looking for when they come to this country—is in the case of my parents, partially it was religious freedom, but it was also economic opportunity, the chance to build a life not for themselves, but a better life for their children. And so I think we’re a nation of immigrants in so many ways, and we have a responsibility to continue to be a place where people can come here in search of a better life, a better opportunity.

So whenever the chance has arisen, I’ve tried to speak out on behalf of those who don’t have a voice. My mother was a survivor of the Holocaust—she actually was a survivor of Auschwitz. I remember she said that after she was liberated—she was liberated by the Russians—she never felt more alone or abandoned by the world than she did. She had lost her mother, her father, her sister, her grandparents. She was the only member of her family who survived, actually the only Jew from her town who survived of the war. She described what it felt like just being forgotten, no one there advocating on behalf of her. Well, in this job, I have the opportunity at times to advocate on behalf of others. And it’s one of the reasons why I took the job, was so that I could try and use my voice judiciously, selectively, but when there’s an opportunity to really make a difference, especially on behalf of people who have no voice themselves.

SC: You have been an alum of the institution, two times over.

LB: Three times.

SC: Three times over. We were having a conversation the other day about one of our central problems here on campus. I was sharing with you the conversation that I had been having with others about the Pulse Survey in our data and the number of people on campus who feel that they don’t have a full sense of belonging. We were discussing the challenge with almost 47% of respondents to that survey saying that they don’t feel a full sense of belonging, which was astounding.

LB: To you, but not to me.

SC: Yes. And then you said, “I’ll tell you, I don’t always feel a sense of belonging.”

LB: I think that everybody who comes to Harvard, whether or not they come as a student, whether or not they come as a faculty member, or whether or not they come as a staff member, is in some way or another intimidated by the institution, intimidated by our 385 year history. And so I think we all worry about whether or not we are worthy of being here. The imposter syndrome exists at many places, but at this place we have a particular virulent form of it. I think it takes a while for everybody to feel like, no, I do belong here. This is my place. For some people that’s easier than for others, but I think it’s a universal feeling. So actually, that number did not surprise me. And there’s also a sense at Harvard, I think far more so than at many institutions, that maybe everybody else has this place figured out except for me.

SC: Right. Everyone else has the secret.

LB: Right. Everybody’s got the secret. People at Harvard are sometimes reluctant to show their vulnerability and to admit, in fact, that they may be struggling a little bit. So I think the combination of all those things means that many people feel like they don’t quite fit in, they don’t quite belong. Which means that for the rest of us we know we’ve got our work cut out for us.

SC: When you talk about having the work cut out for us, give us your thoughts. This is an opportunity for me to see if we can crack the nut. Can we crack the nut together?

LB: Part of it I actually think is naming the problem and getting people to recognize that they’re not alone. Part of it also, I think, involves while acknowledging our storied past and while there’s this certain pride in the fact that this is an extraordinary place, it’s not the only extraordinary place in the United States. We can learn from others. We’re not perfect. People here are regular people and they have the same kinds of concerns that people have at other institutions. And to the extent that we can get people to relax a bit and not feel like they have to live a certain part or play a certain role that is expected of them, that’s different from them, then I think we can do a better job of getting people to feel like they really belong.

SC: On that note, a question that a student asked me once, I’m going to pitch to you.

LB: Sure.

SC: Why do you ask people to call you Larry?

LB: Well, a couple of reasons. When I first had the opportunity to become a university president, when I went to Tufts, I was contemplating doing that. I was very much a reluctant president. I did not see myself as a university president. I thought university presidents were taller, they had more gray hair than I did, they were more formal than I was. I could go on. It was my wife, Adele, who said, No, just be yourself and you’ll be fine.”

One of the challenges in a job like this is that the title always precedes you, the president of Harvard is coming. And that brings with it certain baggage, expectations. And so part of the reason why I tell people to call me Larry is, first of all, I’m trying to do what Adele said, just to be myself, and I’m Larry—but also it’s to prick that bubble a little bit about the president of Harvard is coming. I mean, I try to separate the title from the person. And in some ways I want people to see the person before and not just the title. So that’s why I ask people to call me Larry.

SC: I think that makes perfect sense. So you’ve been leading this institution at a time of unprecedented crises. You actually talked about four of them: public health crises, moral crises, economic crises, and a crisis of leadership. Give us the lessons that you’ve learned through this very tumultuous time and help us think about how we should be thinking about approaching crises.

LB: Well, first, leadership is a team sport. Nobody does it on their own. So it’s really important to surround yourself with a really, really good team and to lean on them and to listen to them. But also, I think in times of crises, people want to hear from their leaders. They want to know that somebody’s worrying about the problems that they’re worrying about. So, communication is really, really important.

One of the challenges in leading through a crisis is that often people are looking for answers at times in which you as a leader lack all the information needed to reassure them, to give them the kinds of answers that they want. So frequently when people are looking for answers and I don’t have them, I try and turn it around and explain why it is I can’t give them an answer when they want it. I think that most people are reassured by that because at least I hope they understand that I’m being straight with them, and they gain some insight at least into why it is that we all have to live with the uncertainty that we’re dealing with. If we knew the path forward that would take us out of every crisis with certainty, it would no longer be a crisis. And the reason it’s a crisis is precisely because the path forward is shrouded it in uncertainty, and often requires mid-course corrections.

SC: And if I could add a little note here, something that you just said a moment ago, you make your problems other people’s problems. One of the things that I have really enjoyed about working with you is that you have always made my problems your problems as well. So as we’re thinking about some of the challenges and the nuances of thinking about culture change at this big institution you’ve always said, “Listen, your problems are my problems.” Which is something that I’ve adopted from you.

LB: Yeah. Look, our job is to enable the people around us to do their best work–go back to where we started this conversation–and in a university that usually means, from the faculty perspective, their best teaching, their best scholarship; from a student perspective, the opportunity to grow and flourish intellectually, socially, emotionall; from our staff’s perspective, the opportunity to perfect their professional skills, to grow professionally as well. That’s what we do. We’re there to enable others to do their best work. And so, your problems are my problems, but I want mine to be yours too.

SC: They are. Okay. So now I have some rapid-fire questions for you. Just give me quick soundbite answers.

LB: Okay, I’ll try.

SC: These are the curious questions that we have. We want to see what’s at the top of your head. The last book you read?

LB: Well, last book I finished or what I’m reading now. Right now, I’m reading Steve Pinker’s book on Rationality, which is really interesting. I’m also reading Linda Greenhouse’s book, new book on the Supreme Court, which is really interesting. Last book I finished was a guilty pleasure book. It was a book by Dan Shaughnessy, who is a Boston sports reporter on the Bird-era Celtics. I was a big Larry Bird fan.

SC: Yeah, I grew up in Detroit–Pistons fan.

LB: Yeah. That’s tough these days.

SC: Yeah, tough these days. And those were tough rivalry years. Okay. Favorite movie?

LB: Oh, I’ll date myself. One of my favorite movies– I have to go back to my youth– was "The Graduate" with Dustin Hoffman.

SC: What do you do for fun?

LB: I’m a passionate sailor and I’m a runner. Until Adele stopped skiing, I was a skier. I skied for, I think it was, what was it? Sixty-four consecutive years. But I haven’t gotten out on skis in the last two seasons.

SC: I don’t like anything that moves fast.

LB: Well, sailing would be fine for you.

SC: I will kayak because I can control the pace for that exact same reason. Tell us one problem that you really want to solve?

LB: As a university president?

SC: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

LB: I’d like to restore public faith in American higher education. I think we’ve seen people lose faith in our colleges and universities, and I think long-term, that’s a serious problem for all of us in this business.

SC: Last couple of questions. What is something that people would be really surprised to know about you?

LB: That I know how to juggle.

SC: I am surprised to know that.

LB: It’s a great way to entertain little kids at rainy birthday parties.

SC: Okay. I’m going to ask you a question that people ask me all the time. Given all that has happened in the world and that is currently happening in the world, what gives you hope?

LB: Oh, that’s an easy question to ask. Young people give me hope. I mean, one of the privileges of working on a college campus–and I’ve basically spent my entire adult life from the age of 18, I’m 70 now, on a college campus–is the opportunity to just be nourished every day by the energy, the enthusiasm, the aspirations, the impatience of young people. One of the really interesting things about living your life on a college campus is that it’s one of the few places where we get older, but the people around us stay the same age. I think it keeps us young, but it also, it keeps us grounded.

I also think that you cannot lead effectively unless you can persuade people that the future’s going to be better than the past. That’s how you get people to dig down deep and do things. I think if a leader can’t be hopeful, if a leader can’t convey to others that we in fact can build a better future–one that gives people better lives, a more just future, a more prosperous future that our children will have an opportunity to better life than we will–then you really can’t lead. I think we can do that. Fundamentally, I’m an optimist.

SC: Well, thank you, Larry. I joined the organization in the midst of the pandemic. We had a few things going on in August of 2020, and so we really jumped into the work and I very rarely actually get a chance to sit and pick your brain because we’re always thinking about the things that we need to do to really advance the institution. So, it’s a pleasure to actually just be able to talk a little bit about the shared work and about the path forward for the institution.

LB: Well, thank you, Sherri. The pleasure is mine, and it took us a year of working together before we were able to meet each other in-person.

SC: Yes.

Larry Bacow: But I’m glad that we have this opportunity to be able to sit down and talk and to do so in such an engaging way. I look forward to future conversations. Thank you very much.

Sherri Charleston: Absolutely. Thank you for joining us. That was President Larry Bacow, the 29th president of Harvard University, joining us here in the Culture Lab. Please look out for future episodes of the Culture Lab. You can follow us on YouTube and please subscribe to our newsletter.

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Victor A. Clay, Harvard Chief of Police

Victor A. Clay, Harvard University’s new police chief talks about his first year, balancing career and identity, and the movie he watches whenever it’s on TV, with Alta Mauro, associate dean for inclusion and belonging, and Noah Harris, Harvard College’s first Black male student body president, with a welcome from Sherri Ann Charleston, Harvard’s chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Transcript

 

Speakers join from four different studios across Harvard.  

Sherri Charleston: Hello. I'm Dr. Sherri Ann Charleston, and this is the Culture Lab. The mission of the Culture Lab is to explore new ideas, innovations and inspirations, as we build a culture of inclusion in higher education and beyond. On each episode, we'll have an opportunity to engage with change makers. Our guest for this episode is the Chief of the Harvard University Police Department, Victor Clay. Chief Clay arrived on campus in July of 2021 at a time of national reckoning with the legacy of race, racism and the intersection of both with policing. He has served more than 35 years in law enforcement, and is focused on pushing the needle towards re-imagining campus safety. Our co-moderators for this fantastic discussion are Dr. Alta Mauro, associate Dean for Inclusion and Belonging and Noah Harris, the first black male student body president here at Harvard College. They're both joining us from Harvard College today.

Alta Mauro: Good morning everybody. How are y'all?

Victor Clay: Hey Alta.

Noah Harris: Doing well. How are you?

Alta Mauro: It's a good morning, it's Friday. It's at least sun shining out. It's freezing, I'm sure. Haven't ventured out there, but I feel like this is a good way to start a Friday and a good way to start a weekend to just have a conversation with two people who I don't get to spend enough time with, or in Chief Clay's instance, almost any time with, so I'm looking forward to our chat today.

Noah Harris: Chief Clay. I actually, before I get started with my question, I want to see if you can settle a little debate that I've been hearing around. Is it HUP-D? Or is it H-U-P-D? Or as a police officer, do you even care?

Victor Clay: You know what, I'll be honest with you. If your department or your career gets a nickname from the streets, it's kind of like a badge of honor. I was in patrol when five oh, in one time, was what we were called. The first thing I thought about was Digital Underground when I heard HUPD. I couldn't get the song out of my head after that. So whatever you want to call us, I don't care.

Alta Mauro: So we are generationally aligned here, because I heard HUPD and I was like, did we say Humpty? I was so thrown off by that. Okay, HUPD it is.

Noah Harris: Chief Clay, you've been here a little while at Harvard, but I think the community itself, maybe this is due to the pandemic, some things being virtual or distance, but I think we're still getting to know you a little bit and I know you've done this here and there, but could you walk us through your background a little bit and some of the experiences that have brought you to this space?

Victor Clay: I'm from California, born and raised Southern California, LA area. Law enforcement kind of found me. I didn't come from a law enforcement family. Went took the test and became a deputy sheriff in 1984. From there, I worked the jails, the streets, tactical teams, narcotics, internal affairs, a variety of things. And then in 2012, I'll be honest with you. I just had enough. 30 days later, I was hired by a security company. Worked for them for a few years. But in that time, I missed the team structure. The law enforcement structure, the community field.

So, applied to Occidental College, became the chief there. A few years later, Caltech was looking for a chief, applied, and drove six miles across town and got that position. And then this one opened up, and I'm sure just like you when you're applying for schools right out of high school, it's like, "Heck yeah, I'm going to go to Harvard if they accept me, are you kidding me?" I mean, people ask me that all the time, why Harvard? I'm like, "Why not Harvard? You kidding me?" So yeah, I jumped on it. And when they said yes, I said yes.

The question I also get asked is why did I go into higher ed law enforcement after the sheriff's department. And the timing was just right. My girls were going away to college. We were doing the college tour and being a cop, you walk on, you look at, "Let me see your security. Let me see your police department. How safe is this campus?" And there was a gap between municipal law enforcement and higher ed law enforcement. And so when I decided to retire, I thought next option might be in that world. It's alive, it's vibrant, there's a need. Like I said, it found me. I really didn't go out looking for it too much.

Alta Mauro: One of the things I heard you talking about being important, it felt like it was an indication of the culture among officers or culture among the police forces, about this community feel, and how that felt very characteristically different from working in security. So I wonder if you could just talk a little bit more about what you see as HUPD's role in cultivating this community feel.

Victor Clay: Yeah, I'm glad you asked me that, I'll be honest with you. To build community from within a police department and become part of the community, it can't be a program. It can't be something with a charge and an initiative. You have to become part of that fabric naturally, organically. And for me, working the streets in LA, you could have folks who live 50 miles away, come into the community, and work patrol. They're not a part of that community. They come in, they work their eight hours, they deal with them in a certain way, and then they leave and go home. But when you're a part of a university, especially for me, I live on campus. I live in the community. I've pretty much always lived in the community or in the county where I worked, so it's a different feel to it.

You have to be very genuine and real. You have to understand the cultures and the dangers of your community. You got to be honest. There is a whole different world out there when you are patrolling at one part of the day, and then you're in the grocery store the second part of the day, just as Vic Clay shopping for some eggs, and you see those same folks. So on a college campus, and even other institutions, so to speak, it's really important to be genuine about your community efforts and appreciating the uniqueness of that community. You can't come in and say, "I'm just going to come in and take names, throw folks jail, write some tickets." That's not law enforcement. Not in my belief, it's not.

Alta Mauro: Yeah. I'm glad you added that little bit at the end, at least not in your book. I think there's a sort of... It's reminding me of in our public imagination, maybe recently, or increasingly recently, that is what law enforcement is. It's not community policing. It's not community engagement. But there's this perception that that is what law enforcement is, and people have lots of thoughts around that. But I'm really grateful to hear you talk about what feels like community engagement, not just law enforcement. And maybe that's splitting hairs, but it seems to me that you're talking about familiarity and the importance of familiarity in a community. And I'm hopeful that that's a part of your priority for your officers and for the community, for there to be this increased visibility, increased interaction engagement that drives toward a familiarity.

Victor Clay: Yeah. There's a lot of missed stories. Stories that go untold within the department. There's officers right now in this department who are well known by students, faculty, staff. Pockets of students and faculty and staff. And when I go to these meetings, tutors... I can't think of... Proctors and tutors meeting? I think that's what it's called? They're like, "Oh my god, Officer Ryan is the best." And I'm thinking to myself, "We got three Ryans on the department, which one are you talking about?" But it's great that they know him by the first name. It's great that that officer has made themselves available to that portion of the community. We should do more of that.

Noah Harris: Chief Clay, I want to touch on a point that you made and ask a question based off of that. You referred to that gap between the municipal and the college departments, and that got me thinking about how at Harvard, we all come from different places. We call the Cambridge community home for four years, but we all come from... I'm from Mississippi, you're from the West Coast, Dean Mauro from the Midwest. And so we all have our different perceptions of what either police departments or what our experience has been back home. But I guess our tendency is to think that all police departments are like that. So I was wondering if you could speak to the difference between municipal police departments and college police departments, and then the Harvard departments specifically.

Victor Clay: There are some core similarities. What's different though, is that since I've been working in higher ed, you're an employee of the institution that you have to provide that service to. When I was on the sheriff's department, I wasn't an employee of the City of Linwood or the City of West Hollywood. I was providing a service to the residents, but they couldn't fire me. But here, what makes it a challenge, and kind of rewarding at the same time... and very frustrating. So it's rewarding, challenging and frustrating all at the same time, is that I'm an employee of the same place that you go to school and that other folks work. I'm asked to sometimes solve issues between employees, and others, and maybe even the university, but then I'm held to a standard of a municipal law enforcement officer or a law enforcement department.

So if something happens nationally, I'm a little bit painted. And I'm not complaining, I'm just telling you the reality of it. I'm painted with the same brush as a municipality. So that's the frustrating part. The rewarding part is, is that we do so much good work that goes unnoticed, that we celebrate one another and we celebrate with the people we serve. So we do get some accolades. We do get some reward for our good work. But we're constantly aware that there's this thing hovering over us. This image of law enforcement, and the fact that we're not the cousin you want to invite to the party, because we'll snitch. That's the way it feels.

Alta Mauro: One of the things that sticks out, no one's asking you this question about... We're all from different places, geographically. But I'm also thinking about how we're all from different places theoretically, philosophically, in terms of our values. We have different perspectives, we see things from different vantage points, and all of that informs and is informed by our own identities. I'm wondering if that has an impact on how you think you are viewed in the role, how you lead in the role, for some things that you may be hypersensitive to. Do you know what I mean? Or things that you see differently, or that you're curious about that maybe is new for HUPD.

Victor Clay: Yeah, so yes to a lot of those. I know West Coast, not Northeast. Obviously physically different than some folks. A majority of the folks on the department. You do have to work twice as hard to sometimes not even get half the credit. I am constantly trying to justify decisions I make and directions we want to go because I think folks aren't looking at the body of my work. They're looking at the vehicle which the message is coming from.

We talked about the uniform, and I know if I walked in here in my formal uniform with the stars and the hard badge and all that stuff, there'd be a portion of the community wondering like, "What's this dude about? Why does he need all that pump and circumstance?" And then there's some people like, "Hmm he's okay. Look at that thing that gives him this pass to be one of the good guys." And then there's another part of the community, they'd be like, "Why is he wearing all that badge? He ain't one of us."

And I even changed the inflection of my voice right now because that's what I'm talking about. That part never leaves me. I know who I am. I know what I do. And I'm constantly trying to balance those two things so that I can be comfortable in my skin, and also comfortable in my uniform.

Alta Mauro: You're talking about your uniform, how you present yourself, all these markers of goodness, markers of competence, and these are things that some of us think about more than others. And it can also be situational. All of us have, no matter who you are, we all have identities that we think gain us power or greater access, and then need to be mitigated in other ways. But how you present what you present is important. And I think that I don't know that that can be denied, so I wonder if this is an opportunity for you to talk about how you intend to present some of your initiatives, or what you hope is happening for HUPD in ways that there are some things that we should expect from community policing, but also how they go forward is also critically important.

Victor Clay: There needs to be some transparency. Actual transparency into the department. What are we doing? Where are we going? What's our level of training? What are our policies? And we can't hide behind that blue wall, so to speak. We can't hide behind that. Because we work for Harvard and we have the best and brightest minds here. They'll break down the blue wall in two seconds. So let's open our doors. And in fact, if we partner with our community, we'll probably be a better police department. And so that is the message that I'm pushing to the officers.

Open it up, admit your mistakes, ask for help, be a part of the community. Nobody thinks we're tough guys anymore. That doesn't exist anymore. When a cell phone comes out and records you, be on your best behavior. Don't take offense to it. If somebody protests what we do, hear them out, understand that this may be coming from somewhere. Like you said, different philosophy, different experiences. So me pushing, I push back and ask a lot of questions. And a lot of times that ruffles feathers, but that's just the way it's going to be.

Alta Mauro: Well, I can appreciate that. I think it's forward progression. Forward progression perhaps, yeah.

Noah Harris: I think you come up with a lot of experiences that a lot of people just don't have, being able to see what does a police department look like, how does a police department run. And I sat on the H-U-P-D task force as one of the only... I think I was the only student. So what is that like, representing 7,000 viewpoints? And how do you even represent all of those voices? But what I think it's important to do that work and to accept that progress.

And I've been telling students, "For one second, try and separate your perceptions of H-U-P-D from this new chief. Give him a chance to make those changes and to succeed." And coming from where I'm from, especially with our shared identity as black men, I've never really seen a black man in this space. I think this is new for a lot of people, and I liked what you said earlier when you said I know who I am, because I think that's important. How do you think about that responsibility and some of the challenges that have come with your identity being a black man specifically?

Victor Clay: Yeah. There's a couple of organizations out there for black cops across the country. NOBLE and every state pretty much has a Black Peace Officer Association. But NOBLE is one of the biggest. And you meet folks. If you go to their conferences, you meet a lot. First of all, it's a great time, but you meet a lot of folks and we speak the same language every single time. But something that came up within the last four or five years that we all knew, but we really didn't verbalize, was it seems as though after following a nationally recognized or noted incident, a murder, unjustified shootings, anything like that, they prop somebody up on these departments that look an awful lot like me. When I started looking at these incidents, Ferguson, Missouri? Black dude. Minneapolis. I think they got a new black chief.

When I look at the Ivies, several of the chiefs over the... some of the Ivies, are all black. We all look the same. We all look exactly the same. But we never change the department. We never change the folks that are out there enforcing the rules and doing the work. He's just a figurehead. So we recognize this. We... thankful for our position. We're thankful that we had the experience and the talent to go out and be competitive and get the job. But now where's the support? You can't let me just hang out here by myself. We need to make that change. But that's what we feel when we talk amongst our group of colleagues.

Noah Harris: In this moment, with some of the injustices that have occurred, some of the unfortunate situations, when they try to prop up a black man or a black person, and they're trying make the necessary changes internally and not getting support, I think as a community, I think it's important that we ensure you get that support.

Victor Clay: I appreciate that, but I'm not asking... I would never ask community I serve to risk their time, their safety, their money to support the change that needs to go on in the police department. That's up to leadership in the department and leadership that oversees the departments. We need to have the courage and the ability to make the changes that needs to occur. I'm going to tell you right now, I was asked the question... I watched the George Floyd video right there with my wife and daughters, my mother on the phone, "Can you believe this?" Everybody in shock, silence, just... And I'm sitting there and I'm starting to get goosebumps right now thinking about it. And they went around the room, "Can you believe this? Look at his face, look at this guy, look what he's doing."

And before I could even make a comment, my sister-in-law who was on the phone, she goes, "As a cop, how do you feel about that?" And I was like, "I don't give a damn about being a cop right now." I see what I'm seeing. I'm seeing something very similar to me being killed right there on video, and in the background, I'm hearing at work, "Well, he shouldn't have tried to use a fake $20 bill." That's the balance right there? That's the justification? The person who's being harmed shouldn't have done something to cause something bad to happen to them. So there's a lot of internal stuff going on as I sit here in this skin and in this uniform.

Alta Mauro: Yeah, Chief Clay, I really appreciate what feels to me like high vulnerability right now, and for so much of what you said really resonates with me. Just this last weekend, maybe, watching these two NFL commentators talk about the need to increase black head coaches across the NFL. And they're arguing what I would call across systems. One of them is talking about the pattern of there being black coaches, and one of them is talking about structurally, there aren't pipelines to create enough people who will be competitive as coaches. So they're just arguing because fundamentally they're talking about two different things. And it strikes me, this is close to what you're talking about.

We respond to a tragedy by propping up or put foregrounding one black person who can talk about this issue, and there's a pattern of doing that. Structurally, we are not perhaps thinking about the culture of policing, and why there needs to be more spokespersons, et cetera. And it makes me think, generally, when I think... Translate that example to a university system. If we were bleeding money out and having gross failings in terms of how we spend money, we would respond to that organizationally. This would be a structural leadership problem and we would address the structures. When it comes to issues of equity sometimes, we want to have a community conversation. We want to think relationally. How do we rebuild the relationships. And we don't often apply the structures. We don't often apply our structural fixes. We don't think about how we create systems to ensure that we have equitable patterns all the time.

And so when you're talking about this being an issue of leadership and creating the sort of structures that will put H-U-P-D in a different position, I'm hoping for you and hoping for all of us, that we're thinking of a both and. We're thinking of how our community should be responding, and to Noah's point, how can communities support and also hearing your point. These are some structural issues that can be addressed as matters of leadership. And I'm wishing you all the best as you address both the community needs and principles of leadership that will get us into the space where... that aligns with your vision for H-U-P-D. There's a lot more to say about that, I'm sure. I, for one, I have a dozen other questions now and things that I'm newly, uniquely interested in about your leadership and your approaches, and how we could all do our part to support H-U-P-D.

Victor Clay: I appreciate that. Feel free. Once all this stuff goes away, I want to have some lunches. I want to actually go sit in a restaurant, talk to people face-to-face.

Alta Mauro: I think Noah and I have some... Shifting gears a little bit, but we also have some rapid fire questions for you. Noah, you want to kick us off?

Noah Harris: Yeah, I'll start it off. We're starting off with the most important one. What is your favorite movie?

Victor Clay: Okay, don't judge me okay? But you know what I watch every single time it's on, no matter where it is in the movie? Madea's Witness Protection. I don't know why that movie makes me laugh, but I cannot stop watching it, I swear to god.

Alta Mauro: Chief Clay, what's the last book you read?

Victor Clay: Ooh. I just finished one. It's called Life of a Klansman by Edward Ball. It's about this guy that traced his family roots in Louisiana. It was really interesting.

Noah Harris: Okay, yeah. What do you do for fun?

Victor Clay: I got a sports car back home and I like to take that thing through the canyons and just air it out every once in a while.

Noah Harris: Okay. What type of car?

Victor Clay: Okay, don't judge me again. I have a Porsche. I had a midlife crisis. I bought myself a 911. Sorry.

Alta Mauro: Okay, so in addition to the Madea movie and driving a Porsche, what's something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Victor Clay: Wow. You know what? All right. This one's going to kill me to even put it out there. But if I see a little kid, or somebody overcome something, like win a race for the first time or even finish a race, I will.... I mean, I can't stop it. It's like pollen or something, just comes out. Serious. I will see a little kid running a 50-yard dash at a elementary school, and I'm like, "Oh my god." It just, I don't know why. I don't know why.

Alta Mauro: Waterworks huh?

Victor Clay: Seriously. My wife's like, "Are you all right?" My allergies girl, leave me alone.

Alta Mauro: I love that.

Noah Harris: Okay. We're ending with a pretty deep one, but Chief Clay, what gives you hope?

Victor Clay: I'd say opportunity. Opportunity gives me hope. Curiosity gives me hope. If I see that in someone else... I have that. I have tons of curiosity. And when people give me an opportunity... I feel like if I see somebody with curiosity and I give them an opportunity, that gives me hope that things can change in the future.

Alta Mauro: That seems like as good a wrapping point as any. I'm wishing you all the hope and all the opportunities. This is a big opportunity. It's a big opportunity for you, it's a big opportunity for the department, a big opportunity for the university to... Yeah, for all of us to take a step back and maybe be critical of where we are, who we are, who we are together, how we can levy some of our structures to reach all of our really lofty inclusion equity goals, and HUPD is not the only important piece of that, but it is a really important piece, so I think it's reassuring to hear you talk about the... to see it as an opportunity, and I'm wishing you all the best as you move forward.

Victor Clay: Thank you so much. I appreciate this time. Good seeing you, Noah.

Noah Harris: Of course. Good to see you again. Can't wait to see you in person when I'm around.

Victor Clay: All right.

Alta Mauro: Thanks all. All right y'all. Take care.

Sherri Charleston: Wow. So that was Vic Clay, the chief of the Harvard University Police Department, joining us here at the Culture Lab. Thank you, Chief Clay. And thank you, Dr. Mauro and Noah, for steering this absolutely fantastic conversation. I'd invite all of you to subscribe to our email and keep up with the new episodes.

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Joan Reede, Harvard Medical School Dean for Diversity Inclusion

Dr. Joan Y. Reede, the pioneering Harvard Medical School professor and its first dean for diversity inclusion and community partnership, talks about why she became a physician, her secret to launching successful initiatives, and the career she might have pursued, with Sherri Ann Charleston, Harvard’s chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Transcript

Sherri Charleston:    Hello, I'm Dr. Sherri Ann Charleston. And this is The Culture Lab. The mission of The Culture Lab is to explore new ideas, innovations and inspirations. As we build a culture of inclusion in higher education and beyond today, as part of our focus on change makers, I have the absolute pleasure of speaking with Dr. Joan Reede. Dr. Reede is Harvard Medical School's first Dean for diversity and community partnership. A role that she's held since 2002. She's one of the few African American women to hold a medical school deanship in the United States.

Sherri Charleston:    Joan is known for building pipelines that train underrepresented students in stem fields. She's developed policies focused on improving care for minority and low income communities. And Dr. Reede is the founder and director of the Commonwealth Fund Fellowship, which offers training to physicians interested in eliminating health disparities. She's a graduate of Brown University and Mount Sinai School of Medicine with a pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a child psychiatry fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital. She also holds a master of science and public health from the Harvard Chan School of Public Health and an MBA from Boston university. In addition to numerous honors and awards. Joan, thank you so much for joining us today. It is truly a pleasure and an honor to have you here on The Culture Lab. And I couldn't be more grateful that you taking time out of your busy schedule to join us today.

Joan Reede:              Thank you for having me.

Sherri Charleston:    Oh it's a pleasure. It is a pleasure. So I thought we would start the conversation with just talking a little bit about your pathway to medicine.

Joan Reede:              I was born in Boston, but grew up in the suburbs, grew up in Nahant on the north shore and Hull on the south shore. And was in those towns because my father was in the army and they were Nike sites. So I had this army history for who I am. And from early on, wanted to go into something related to medicine, but I wanted to be a nurse, I wanted to be a nurse because that's all I knew was I read books.

Joan Reede:              But by seventh grade I had seen these shows on television about Marcus Welby and Ben Casey, and thought that those doctors were in charge and decided that I should be in charge and I should be a doctor. And never thought about that they were white or that they were men. They were just in charge and I should be in charge and I'd be a doctor. Did I know what it took to be a doctor? No. Did I know any doctors? No, but made that decision then and followed through, moving forward. Got to Brown and majored in biochemistry there and had this real decision of do I go towards grad school or medical school, but knew I wanted to do something where I was with people

Sherri Charleston:    And in charge.

Joan Reede:              And in charge. And in charge, because it wasn't until later I understood that you're never fully in charge. It took time to get there. And then went on to medical school at Mount Sinai. But if I look at my journey through all of this was always involved in education, was always involved in issues around community building from high school, working on rewriting the town charter to tutoring in schools, to in medical school, tutoring and working with public schools and doing programs for students to Hopkins where I did my pediatric training and working with parents groups in the community.

Joan Reede:              So it's always been a part of what I've done and then returning back to Boston. And coming back home and working in community and health centers and prisons and public schools and then to Harvard. So I think that the connection across all of this is this drive to have this purpose, to be doing something, that matters that improves the world or changes the world.

Joan Reede:              This clear understanding that I come from this legacy of amazing women who made a difference to their family and community. And that whatever I did had to carry forward that legacy. To be in charge and carry forward that legacy. And civil rights came in because it was all around me. If I think about my family, if I think about visiting my grandmother in Florida, and she lived two houses down from the railroad track and the railroad track divided the town into paved streets and dirt streets, shell streets, the white part and the black part.

Joan Reede:              And so I grew up seeing it. It was right there in front of me. But also the image that was in front of me with that was my grandmother following her, walking down the railroad tracks behind her going downtown. And if you think of it as this divide and this tall, amazingly strong black woman strutting across the tracks, going into town to do her business. And so for me, recognizing the divide, but also seeing this possibility of crossing it, of bridging that divide. So it was very much a part of my rearing, this sense that you can make a difference with your life.

Sherri Charleston:    I love this idea of thinking about there's always a way. There's always a way. So you are a quintuple threat. You of course completed your bachelor's went on to medical school, and then went on to get an MBA and a master's of public health. Am I missing anything else?

Joan Reede:              Tree masters is what I have, two from the Harvard School of Public Health and one from BU. And that wasn't the plan. Those came about because there was something else I wanted to know. I had more questions and wanted to... As I was sitting in rooms and going through having these conversations, I found that there were these areas where I didn't know what the language was. I didn't understand the landscape.

Joan Reede:              And I wanted a voice at that table. And I wanted a voice that could be heard and to make a difference at that table. And for me so much of what we do in this sort of equity space, in this diversity space ends up getting siloed. It's sort of like, this is what you do in medicine, and this is what you do in public health. And my degrees are in policy and public health and business.

Joan Reede:              This is what we do in business. And I don't see the separate silos. I see the intersections. And I see the ways in which what happens in law, your field, impacts what happens in medicine. What happens in public health is related to what happens in policy. And for me, being able to work with this diversity of perspectives and individuals who are thinking in different ways, setting policies and allocating resources in different spaces, but seeing how it all can come together to further equity has really helped me. And it's how I think about the work that I do.

Sherri Charleston:    So you said to me before that you felt that on any given day, you might use any of those degrees to approach the work that you do, which had my head spinning when I thought about the number of different degrees you have, at that. But tell me about that process and how do... You started to talk a little bit about this, this idea that we're solving a bigger problem related to equity. And at any point we're thinking about the intersections of all those things.

Joan Reede:              Absolutely. So for me, I think about and take a historical perspective. When I look at where we are in medicine today, and there's so much that still needs to be done, but the integration of our hospitals happened because of laws and policy and regulation, not because the medical field sat down and said something's seriously wrong with how we're doing this work.

Joan Reede:              You had to cross into other specialties and disciplines that would have an impact on what happened in the healthcare setting. So, bring it up to where we are today and COVID, and you see the scientists and they're working in this space at an amazing pace and coming up with a vaccine. And so this is brilliance in science and brilliance in medicine. But if you don't deal with the policy and you don't deal with communication and you don't deal with public health, you don't get those medicines to the people who need it.

Joan Reede:              So that this idea that I can tackle these issues from only dealing from one perspective, limits our capacity to be effective. Even as we think about how the community hears what we're saying. Who is the right messenger for this? Is it someone that's trusted and known that the community recognizes? Is it the scientist? Is it the infectious disease doctor? Or is it their primary care physician that's in their health center that they've known and knows their family.

Joan Reede:              So it's understanding that all of us come together and can make different kinds of contributions to change. And how do we create the spaces so that we can actually start to appreciate what others bring, where we can start to see the limitations of our one perspective and start to truly be able to understand when we're more inclusive. We might actually ask different questions.

Joan Reede:              We might come up with different solutions. We're talking about extremely complex issues and why you should think that my little brain by itself is going to solve this age old problem. That's not how it works. The other part that intrigues me with this is, as you talk about how history led you to law. For me, history has such an underpinning in the issues that we see today. As we're thinking about issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and all these things that we did not end up where we are today by accident, but by design.

Joan Reede:              And oftentimes we're acting in this vacuum where we don't understand what happened before, what led to where we are today, what were those policies or practices or beliefs that are the underpinnings for what we are seeing and doing. So for me, that history is critically important. It's the history that allows us to bust the myths that are out there. And so I hear you in history and for me, we are uncovering still part of that history that's been buried for so very long.

Sherri Charleston:    So you've worked at Harvard Medical School for over 20 years.

Joan Reede:              Yes.

Sherri Charleston:    And you've risen to the ranks of Dean. Dean for Diversity and Community Partnerships and have spearheaded numerous programs, 20 plus programs. Tell me, how has the medical school changed since you've arrived?

Joan Reede:              Okay. I've actually been here more than 30 years, which is a long time. I think it, when I think about the medical school, but I also think about medicine in general, in the academy, the work around diversity was very much siloed. You had the institution, here's our mission and our values and our work, our education, our research, our service, clinical service, et cetera. And then there's diversity. And so for me, it was also a time where diversity was thought of isn't that a nice thing to do, or isn't that a kind of a good thing to do. But it was not an essential thing to do. It was not owned by the institution. And what I have seen is the change over time is to this increased understanding that this diversity and inclusion are the bedrock. They're the foundation of who we are.

Joan Reede:              Okay. So that if we look at where we are now, diversity and inclusion are in the mission statement of the school. If we look at the community values for the school, respect and diversity are in there, but promoting equity and social justice are also in there. So they have become part of the fabric of the institution and the organization. They're not owned by an office or a person, but an expectation for everyone and a realization that it is what gives us our strength. When people talk about inclusive excellence. That's what makes us strong. That's what makes us excellent.

Joan Reede:              The other part that's happened with this is this increasing understanding for some who think, well, this is change. And we were something else before, but change has always been here. We have continuously been changing. And to me, changing and moving in a direction where we are sort of actualizing, living out the values that we profess. So we talk about equity and we talk about justice, but now we're moving from them. This is words, to what does that actually mean? How do you do your business? How do you conduct yourself? How do you treat other people? What is it that you value and you hold up and is that consistent with the words that you put forward? That's what I see as different. I see a different kind of placement of this and a different kind of ownership.

Sherri Charleston:    You were talking about why diversity is important. And this is something that I think that we don't dig into enough when we talk about why it makes us better. And you just spoke to this beautifully. You said it makes us truly excellent. I don't think that we really understand what that means, particularly in the context of medicine. So I would love to hear your thoughts. Why is diversity important in medicine? Why is it important to healthcare? What's your take on it?

Joan Reede:              When I think about diversity in medicine and diversity, particularly for me, in academic medicine, I think about three things. I think about diversity is part of us living up to our values that we profess in medicine. If we think about the charter professionalism in terms of medicine, and they talk about primacy of patient care, but also social justice in this diversity space.

Joan Reede:              If I think about the work of the Institute of Medicine, now, the National Academy of Medicine, they talk about crossing the quality chasm. They talk about equity. So if we think about our profession, as we think about how do we advance medicine and the standards, social justice, equity are embedded in that. It's part of the language of our profession. I also think about diversity as being critical as we tackle complex problems and issues. Okay, it's these diverse perspectives and questions and how we solve problems.

Joan Reede:              It's thinking about who's at the table to even interpret what goes on, how does it get disseminated. That it's very complex and we need that diversity there to come up with the best solutions, the best answers. Think of it in terms of moving towards this inclusive excellence, we're always striving for excellence, but how can we use the potential and the best that people bring to achieve that excellence? And then the third part for me, when I think about medicine and academic medicine, I think about the reality of the change in our country and the world.

Joan Reede:              When I first started doing this work, people would talk about Joan, you're talking about the demographics of our countries changing. Why are you talking about that? Now that's a century away. It's not a century away. It's here now. It's here today. If we look at birth rates, if we look at who's in high school, who are our future college students, who are our future medical students and graduate students, our future doctors and leaders. Increasingly diverse, our profession needs to be diverse. We need to be attracting the best and brightest and the best and brightest exists across all of these different dimensions of diversity. So for me, this concept, diversity, is fundamental to us being able to achieve what we're trying to achieve in academic medicine, which is improving the health of all.

Sherri Charleston:    You hit at something that is so important, this issue of making sure that we have the requisite diversity to make sure that we're asking the right questions that allow us to actually push things forward. As you were talking, I was thinking of one of The Culture Lab projects that's being led by a group from the medical school. That's asking us to think about skin tone in sort of in the process of preparation. To me, that was so interesting because it sort of raised this question around what we think about as the normative center. And how that opens up possibilities for not only greater exploration, but better patient care, just on a very basic level.

Joan Reede:              The assumptions that go across from patient care. If you go from assumptions from why did the photographs that your family took 30 and 40 years ago, fade and look very different. It's because the color patterns, the colors that they used in that were not based on your skin color or my skin color, they were based on what they thought was the norm.

Joan Reede:              You move forward and they're making decisions in dermatology about what should be taught and trained and what does normal look like? But if you look at the world, it's not based on the skin tones across there. And even the assumptions that exist within that, that if you're black, it means you look in a certain way. But if you're black that you can look anyway.

Sherri Charleston:    Yes.

Joan Reede:              There is not one black.

Sherri Charleston:    There is not one white.

Joan Reede:              There is not one black. And so it's bringing a reality to this and saying, how do we challenge the assumptions? How does somebody even sit in the room and say, how did you arrive at that conclusion? Why did you decide to use that algorithm? Does it work for everybody? If I think back to a time, even in my own family, when there was an issue with someone and I needed a dermatologist, I couldn't find anybody that had worked with black skin. And I ended up traveling to another city in another state to find a dermatologist who understood my family's skin. That shouldn't have to happen. We should have clinicians where we are, who are equipped to deal with the patients where they are. That requires diversity.

Sherri Charleston:    So Joan, at HMS and beyond you have launched over 20 programs to advance diversity in medicine. Your faculty development program is one that other schools have emulated. And one would think that given your successes and Harvard's wealth of resources, that there's no limit to what can be done. But I imagine that you'll tell us that launching these sorts of programs are not easy.

Joan Reede:              So as I think about establishing the many programs, people make assumptions, they make assumptions you're at Harvard and therefore you have the full range of resources of Harvard. And I would like to have that full array of resources made available to me, but that's not how Harvard works. That's not how Harvard works.

Joan Reede:              And so the medical school, and Harvard has been very supportive of the work, but I think how the whole programs have been built is part of why they have been successful and sustained. And so I came to Harvard from working at community health centers and other settings where you wrote grants and did all sorts of things, but where you also had limited resources. And my approach at Harvard is as though I'm still in those other settings where I have limited resources. And that's how I started the programs. The advantage of that is you don't start with, "If you write me a check I'll build it." You start in a place of, do we have a shared understanding about what the issue is? What is it that we not, I, what is it that we think we need? What is it that we can bring to bear on this issue?

Joan Reede:              So when I think about building programs, I think about, again, what is the value of diversity? It's built into those programs? So it's not my vision of where I want to go. It's our vision of where I want to go. But that means it's tighter. We've taken into consideration complexity, we've taken into consideration, different kinds of thinking and understanding of what the issues and problems are. We've built something where there's shared ownership. So in the end, it's not mine. It's ours. It's ours.

Joan Reede:              That means that the question at the next meeting is not who's writing the check. The question at the meeting is what is it that we need to build? What is working and not working? And what is it that we do to create the change that we want to see? We own it. Very powerful and a very different way of thinking. I came to this because I worked in community settings where this was the rule. But I also learned in those settings that often time funders would fund something for a short period of time because they had an interest and then the gaze would turn someplace else and they'd fund something else. Well, when you start talking about diversity, that is not a two year, four year, five year, 10 year effort.

Sherri Charleston:    No, this is progressive, consistent, ongoing work.

Joan Reede:              Right. And so if you start to think about, you need a continued eye towards this. You need to be able to collaborate across multiple sectors. You need to be able to communicate in very different ways. You need this continuity of effort. Which means you need to build it with others. You also need to build it in a way that says and starts to think about, I'm not going to be here the whole time.

Joan Reede:              Who am I helping to prepare to move this forward, to take this on as I pass on to whatever else that I'm going to pass on to. So as you're building programs, you're building programs with an eye towards someone else who will lead these over time. And when they lead them, they're not going to lead them the way I lead them. Their priorities might not even be my priorities, but that's all right, because I've built something that's a shared ownership.

Joan Reede:              So for me, it's a different approach. It's allowed us to be flexible, very limber in terms of how has the environment changed? How have the issues changed? How has the funding changed? How has society changed as we've done this work? So learn this approach from my time in community, but also learn this approach from history and the people who came before me who set the stage, doing things in very different ways. Building different kinds of coalitions, coming together to accomplish something and then setting the stage for the next person to take over, the next group to take over. And we brought that into our work at the medical school.

Sherri Charleston:    You are actually offering a master class in strategic diversity leadership, but also in organizational leadership right now. And I think what you've highlighted is so many things, but you know what Derek Bell might call interest convergence theory. So thinking about how you find even sometimes disparate interests and pull them together to activate on a shared goal that may not necessarily even be what either of us initially had in mind, but what we're working towards, .

Joan Reede:              And if you think about part of this it's about how we both grow. And we're learning from each other. So we're learning throughout this entire process. And we're growing in our understanding. We're desiloing, our thinking and starting to appreciate and value what others bring to the table. Which is what we're asking the system to do when we're talking about advancing diversity. But how do we also do that as we set up our programs and we move forward. And I think of it as change is always occurring. And it's always happening. I think of it as it's not always what you see right in front of you, but there's things going on beneath the iceberg, under the waves that are propelling us so that we're prepared the next time we can make a more sort of substantive change.

Joan Reede:              It's this incremental piece so you're ready for the big jump when it happens and when it occurs. And the frustration is not there in the same time, because in my life I have been privileged to see change. In my life I have... I talked earlier about being with my grandmother in the segregated south and going down there summers, going to segregated schools in the summer with her. That's changed. That's not the same now. In my life I've seen you, I've seen me in positions of whoever thought that our positions would even-

Sherri Charleston:    Would exist.

Joan Reede:              ... Would exist. Would exist. In our life we've seen a black president, a black vice president. My hope is a soon to be black female Supreme Court Justice. In my life. I have to acknowledge those wins. I have to acknowledge that movement forward. But also be able to tell the people who are coming behind me, tell them that story to them and saying you can do this and more. I don't want you to think about where we are now. I want you to be able to think about where we could go and what's possible. And my job is to help set a stage so that you can step in and take this in whatever direction you want.

Sherri Charleston:    We took the liberty of reaching out to a few of your former students, people who you've worked with. If you don't mind, I'm going to share some of their thoughts.

Joan Reede:              Okay.

Sherri Charleston:    So Alden Landry said, "It's rare to find someone so well respected in the field who is so personable on an individual level. Dr. Reede not only knows my professional goals, but also my wife's career goals and checks in on our family. The reality is she is family." And then Frinny Polanco Walters said, "I am blessed to have Dean Reede. One of the most giving individuals I know in my life. I'm amazed by her leadership. The number of leaders she's helped mow through the many programs she's established and her humanism." I mean, you have mentored dozens, if not hundreds of students and physicians. Tell us why is mentorship so important to you? Why has it been so important to you? Obviously you've had a tremendous impact.

Joan Reede:              When I think of where I am today I think of the people who got me here. When I think of where I am, I think of the people in my family, the women, my grandmother, my mother, my aunt. I think of the many people in and out of medicine who have set the stage for me and believed in me. And even when I had a bizarre idea would say, "Just go for it, Joan, it's all right." So I have been given that gift.

Joan Reede:              As I think about the future. I fully understand that it's going to be held by those who are coming behind me. And in the same way I have been gifted part of my responsibility is to gift others. It's to recognize potential, to believe in the possibility, to believe that they can make a difference in their own way and in their own time. And so if you call it mentoring, if you call it coaching, if you call it sponsorship, if you call it advising, whatever words you want to use for it. To me, it's about recognizing, valuing and holding important others. And then using the resources that you have at hand to help give them a leg up. And I have had the privilege of getting to know and work with amazing, amazing people who are going to rock the world.

Sherri Charleston:    What is your favorite movie?

Joan Reede:              I actually don't have a favorite movie. I have a movie of the moment.

Sherri Charleston:    Okay. Fair enough.

Joan Reede:              My favorite movie right now is the movie of the moment Encanto. Because I sit up and sing the songs with my grandchildren.

Sherri Charleston:    I know. It is true. It is true. Encanto has me. It has me at this moment. It has me. Fantastic. Next question. Last book you read.

Joan Reede:              How about the book I'm reading now?

Sherri Charleston:    Perfect.

Joan Reede:              Struggling to Learn by June Thomas, who is this Emeritus professor from University of Michigan and it talks about the civil rights movement in South Carolina. And for me, my family has deep roots in South Carolina. And again, it's just tie into history and how history can help us understand where we are today.

Sherri Charleston:    What do you do for fun?

Joan Reede:              The thing I like most right now is Pilates. All right. So for me I work hard, I take care of my family and Pilates is my moment and time for me to take care of me. Am I good? No, but it doesn't matter. I'm having a good time.

Sherri Charleston:    So I am sure you are that person on the mat. That I always see next to me, who's like doing all these back bends and I'm thinking to myself...

Joan Reede:              I'm telling you secret to Pilates is don't look at the people on either side of you because they will intimidate you.

Sherri Charleston:    Always.

Joan Reede:              They will always intimidate. I'm working on can I just get that little movement here or that movement there, but I love Pilates.

Sherri Charleston:    What is something that people would be most surprised to know about you?

Joan Reede:              If you were to ask me what profession would I be in, in my mind? Lord knows, not in reality. I'd be a professional dancer. Can I dance? No. But I'm in awe of dancers.

Sherri Charleston:    Okay. What gives you hope?

Joan Reede:              The thing that gives me hope are the children. The thing that gives me hope are the people who are coming behind, who are smarter and brighter and think differently and will build on whatever we have created. Be it good or bad and keep moving us forward.

Sherri Charleston:    Well, Joan, it has been an absolute honor and an absolute privilege. You're one of the first people I met on campus. And so it's such a pleasure to have been able to work with you and to get to know you. And we don't also get a lot of time because we're always working to actually sit down and have a moment. So I'm happy that we got to do this and we get to share it with other people because it was lots of fun.

Joan Reede:              Thank you, thank you. This has surprisingly been fun.

Sherri Charleston:    We try, we try, we try,

Joan Reede:              But thank you. Thank you for asking me and thank you for giving me this opportunity to share a little bit about myself. Oh thank you.

Sherri Charleston:    That's fantastic. Thank you.