Bailey Reynolds: Presentations of Impact 2020

Bailey Reynolds: Presentations of Impact 2020

I knew I had a passion for creating positive social impact—environmental or otherwise—but I struggled with my how. Upon graduating Arizona State University last May with a bachelor’s degree in conservation biology, I found myself glued to my parent’s sofa, anxiously binge-watching all eight seasons of Vampire Diaries and wondering, “what now?”. Unlike some of my friends who graduated with job titles that matched their degrees—like nurse or engineer—I wasn’t having much luck finding opportunities suited for a conservation biologist with more experience researching public perceptions of environmental functions than actually protecting them. I needed to know how to create the social impact I yearned to see in Arizona and the world.

I learned about Public Allies in early 2019, and originally gravitated toward the possibility of engaging in service-learning, leadership development, and the nonprofit sector. I identified with the organization’s weighty mission: to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it. Plus, the organization’s core values match the values that guide my daily decision-making. Cut to Fall 2019: I joined Public Allies hoping to gain confidence, work with like-minded individuals from various backgrounds, and—of course—make an impact.

At the beginning of my service term, I began volunteering with Valley Leadership, a leadership organization whose mission is to empower, leverage, and mobilize leaders to meaningfully impact the most pressing issues facing Arizona. As an Impact Maker Program Associate my current objectives relate to developing Valley Leadership’s Impact Maker. The Impact Maker model consists of Impact Teams with ready-to-go networks of organizations, Valley Leadership alumni, and community champions all collaborating to tackle To-Do items in pursuit of immediate impact and systemic change. Specifically, I helped establish the teams’ project management framework and ensure that VL alumni work to impact issues around education, health, jobs & the economy, and child wellbeing in Arizona. Over the past six months, I have worked with teams to improve post-secondary access for all students, improve the way people access and eat healthy food, continue to grow Arizona’s advanced manufacturing workforce, and increase support for children and families interacting with the child welfare system—among other things. I also helped launch our fifth Impact Team and five additional To-Do items in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona.

Additionally, I have the pleasure of collaborating with my fellow Allies to reach the community as a result of our Team Service Project. While none of us are extremely well-versed in economic development, we focused on our assets and the needs of community members to deliver a virtual financial literacy workshop to clients of the Human Services Campus. We hope that our investment in people experiencing homelessness will reinforce the value that they may have forgotten to see in themselves. I also proudly volunteer my time with the Arizona Sustainability Alliance leveraging environmental education to encourage sustainable food systems in the state. Service has taken root in my life, and I will continue to advocate for volunteerism and civic engagement beyond my time as an Ally.

All things considered; I think I found my how. I am proud of the work that I do, but I know that I would not have achieved all that I did without the support of the people—my family, mentors, supervisors, and above all, the Allies—in my life. I used to hold the phrase “it’s all about who you know” in contempt. In the past, I thought the phrase only applied to rich kids with fraternity connections or family ties, but now I think about that phrase in a whole new context. I know Melanie, and she is remarkably vulnerable and steadfast; I know two Julies, and they are both incredibly resourceful; I know Clary, and she is creative and poised. I could go on and on about my cohort, but the takeaway here is that we all have strengths that add unique value to the community in several ways. We each can lead and create positive social impact on our own, but if you put us all together for a Community Space Day we make magic happen.