Reena H. Carroll leads the Diversity Awareness Partnership, a non-profit organization that promotes diversity in St. Louis concerning issues of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. She holds a master’s degree in social work from Washington University.
What are some of your proudest career accomplishments? I have two accomplishments in my tenure with Diversity Awareness Partnership that I am most excited about. The first one is opening our DAP-Columbia branch in early March 2015. When I was hired eight years ago, the founders of DAP shared their vision with me to make DAP a model that could be replicated across the country. And certainly Columbia is not across the country, but it is across the state, so we are getting there!
The second accomplishment is what my team and I developed in response to the Ferguson events. We deliberated for days about what the appropriate response was to rebuild our community and came up with the Listen. Talk. Learn program. We have seen over 1,300 people go through the LTL sessions and it has been incredibly powerful to see how you can increase understanding and inclusion one person at a time.
What inspired you to get involved in the justice system? I was inspired by inequity. Growing up in my upper-middle-class Chicago suburb and traveling to Chicago’s South Side for high school every day led me to ask questions about why my neighborhood did not visually look like other people’s. Since the age of 13, I desired to learn more about communities and the resources they lacked.
What has been your favorite part of the job? People. I love all the diverse people I get to interact with on a daily basis that feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and backgrounds with me.
What is something that would surprise people about you? How much I love playing Pac-Man.
What is the best advice you’ve ever given or received? The best advice I have ever received was from one of my mentors who explained to me that all the mistakes, mishaps, poor decisions you make in life, just give you texture, and texture is a great thing.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be? Since I am still growing up, I am still figuring this out!