A Conversation with NSBE Executive Director Dr. Karl Reid

As part of Black History month, SWE’s Executive Director and CEO Karen Horting “sat down” with NSBE Executive Director, Dr. Karl Reid for a Zoom conversation. Horting wanted to better understand how SWE can work with NSBE to tackle the issues our members are facing as women and people of color. She also wanted to know how SWE can be a better ally to NSBE and people of color in engineering and technology.

As part of Black History month, SWE’s Executive Director and CEO Karen Horting “sat down” with National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Executive Director, Dr. Karl Reid for a Zoom conversation. Horting wanted to better understand how SWE can work with NSBE to tackle the issues our members are facing as women and people of color. She also wanted to know how SWE can be a better ally to NSBE and people of color in engineering and technology.

Dr. Reid started the conversation by sharing the theme for Simon Sinek’s book, “The Infinite Game”.  In most games there is a winner and a loser. But in infinite games like business for example, there are no winners or losers but instead there is only ahead or behind. To quote Sinek: “The leaders who embrace an infinite mindset, build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Their people trust each other and their leaders. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their competitors fall by the wayside.” Dr. Reid explained that by embracing this concept, he viewed SWE as a worthy rival and an organization NSBE saw as a gold standard within the community of diversity organizations. It spurred them to do better in the areas of global reach, chapter management and their annual conference. He added that he values the relationship and the opportunity to work with SWE.

We then talked about the 50K Coalition and SWE’s role in the Leadership Circle of the 50K.  This partnership is built on the concept of collective impact. Karl talked about partnerships being the only way to solve complex social issues.  Through the 50K Coalition and our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NSBE, we have a platform to collaborate and amplify our voices for change. We have to work together to eliminate bias and level the playing field for women and people of color both in the educational system and in the workplace, to make engineering a field that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.

We closed the conversation talking about the perception that SWE is an organization for white women. I shared the intentional things SWE has been doing over the past year to make our organization more inclusive and to increase our diversity of leadership at all levels of the organization. He applauded our willingness to look internally and address systemic issues. He also encouraged us to promote our intentional actions so that we can change the perception! Horting is grateful to have Reid’s friendship and guidance. And despite his upcoming change in roles, she will consider him a resource as SWE continues their DEI journey.

Postscript: Dr. Reid has stepped down as NSBE’s Executive Director, effective March 12, 2021.  He will begin his next chapter as the Chief Inclusion Officer at Northeastern University in Boston on April 1.  Read more here.


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