Monica Reid, 29, Washington, DC
In 2011, then 27 year-old, Monica Reid took over as Convener for the Northern Virginia (NOVA) Coalition. The NOVA Coalition is a coalition of over 30 nonprofit organizations created to register, educate and empower voters in Northern Virginia. As Convener, she facilitates partnerships with statewide and local organizations and has successfully managed the Coalition’s voter empowerment efforts. In 2011 alone the Coalition has made over 6000 voter contacts to underrepresented communities and aggregated over 9000 voter contacts in 2012.
Monica went on to lead NOVA’s 2012 theme of “NOVA Votes 2012: Educating and Encouraging the Black Vote.” During 2012 it focused on educating underrepresented and minority communities on new voter ID laws in Virginia through community town halls, workshops, phone banking, canvassing and a GOTV rally hosted in conjunction with the Northern Virginia Urban League. As a result of these efforts, the NOVA Coalition was a recipient of a Corporate Leadership Award presented by the Fairfax Branch of the NAACP.
Monica has been a leading force behind social and civic awareness within her community. In 2013, she was awarded the Marian Van Landingham Legislation & Public Policy Award by the Alexandria Commission on Women.
Monica is truly the essence of community leadership and political awareness and involvement. We took the time to ask Monica a few questions. Here’s what she had to say:
Friends: Why does philanthropy in the black community matter to you?
Monica: Philanthropy in the black community has always been a major apart of my life. I have a passion for politics, which has led me to volunteer for a number of local, statewide and national political campaigns. I began my community advocacy work in middle school working with my local NAACP chapter. My work is inspired by the belief that “we must be the change we wish to see in the world.” As a result, I have spent most of my adult life working with underrepresented and minority communities to various capacities.
Most recently, I have focused much of my work empowering minority communities politically by helping them to become more civicly engaged. I believe the right to vote is one of our most powerful rights that we have as U.S. citizens. Everyone should be afforded their right to vote. I have had the opportunity to work with a nonprofit on their Virginia Voter Restoration of Rights Initiative that sought to help restore the voting rights of people convicted of felonies in Virginia. The NOVA Coalition continues to educate the public on the process of restoring their voting rights. I am reminded of those who fought and died for this right and the right to be politically involved in our democracy. It is their legacy that I seek to continue.
Friends: Why is the African American vote so important?
Monica: Voting is essential. I can’t stress that enough. The African American vote is important; it is our voice. It has the power to influence and change the outcome of elections. We saw this recently with the 2012 Presidential election. The rate of African American voters in the 2012 Presidential election surpassed that of white voters for the first time in history. Our vote is powerful! Voting is our way of participating in our democracy and holding our elected officials accountable in regards to the issues that are important to us and impact our communities. It is our voice and we must be heard! It is vital that we keep the momentum from 2012 moving forward.
Making sure that we are all able to exercise the right to vote is key. For example, in states like Virginia, people with felony convictions are permanently disenfranchised. This is about 350,000 and impacts 1 in 5 African Americans. And when you are disenfranchised, it not only impacts your ability to vote, but also your ability to serve on a jury (among other things). We see the importance of a diverse pool of jurors in the Trayvon Martin case.
Friends: What does leadership mean to you?
Monica: Leadership is very important to me. Leadership means being an example in one’s everyday life and taking responsibility for the well-being of the community. It is seeing a problem and becoming a problem solver. Leaders feel the burden that comes along with being a change-agent. I am grateful for those who came before me who exhibited great leadership qualities and those who have mentored me.
Organizations Monica is a part of: Virginia Leadership Institute – Candidate Recruitment Vice President | Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professional Network – Member | Northern Virginia (NOVA) Coalition – Convener | Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. – Eastern Regional Social Action Coordinator and Social Action Chair for the Alexandria, Virginia Chapter | Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce – Manager
Thank you Monica for all that you do!