2016 Young Leaders Retreat – Jay Reid

Oct 20, 2016

Cities United Young Leader Retreat: Jay Reid

 Earlier this month, 16 minds from across the nation gathered in Seattle to discuss the direction of young people’s role in Cities United. Dr. William Bell, CEO of Casey Family Programs, shared with us a quote that seemed to be the theme of our retreat, “Go to the people, listen to them, build what they say and they’ll say they built it.” He sat with us, along with Former Mayor of Seattle, Norman Rice, and they both shared their story. We spent most of the day understanding ourselves, each other and the people we’ll be speaking to in a strategic story sharing workshop lead by Casey Family Programs consultant, Gregory Davis. Through exercises and conversations, I learned a number of things, but to keep it short, I’ll share 3 concepts that you can apply immediately.


  1. Strategic Story Sharing

On the technical side, the workshop helped me to actualize and consider credibility when speaking both publicly and interpersonally. The main concept was credibility and how to maximize it. We shared a brief personal story amongst ourselves then discussed positives and points of improvement on technique and structure. This helped us grow together, as it forced us to become comfortable enough to share and created credibility in our cause.

  1. Appreciate your “desert years.”

Mayor Rice shared his life experiences with us, this is the concept that resonated with me the most, because it was so relatable. He told the group about being [forcibly? Debatable lol] removed from University of Colorado and just going exploring, taking on odd jobs and ultimately ending up in Seattle at the University of Washington after some years “traveling the desert.” Similarly, after I was kicked out of UNC-Greensboro because I allowed vices to take over my decision making process, I found myself cleaning bathrooms 3rd shift at Walmart. A far cry from where I thought I’d be, since I graduated high school with 50 college credits. Walmart was my desert, it was dry, the people there had become comfortable with alright, but spending time in that place made me realize where I needed to be and that I couldn’t let myself get in the way.

  1. The Five Vs

This was a concept that Dr. Bell shared with us, five things that you should have and celebrate as you’re on the journey to being the best you that you can be. The first of the V’s, Vision, “have one,” Dr. Bell said, to get to where you need to be, you have to know where you’re going. Values, “if you stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” morality, character and integrity, my three current drivers are intangible values that when practiced in sync, propel you forward. Vulnerability, “understand where you’re vulnerable, embrace it and protect it.” This point hit me the most, as I’ve been busy lately strengthening my strengths, I can’t neglect to understand my weaknesses and how I can use my strengths to protect them. Fourth, Vantage point, understanding where you are puts you in a position to better understand others. As Dr. Bell put it, “having a bad vantage point can cause you to be wrong,” something I know all too well, as I’ve recently understood that when dealing with perspective, the frame is just as important as the picture. Lastly, Victories, Dr. Bell explained further saying, “Celebrate your victories but don’t allow them to become a distraction.

In summation, I always have a great time when I’m hanging out with my Cities United family, in the process, we do a lot of bonding learning and growing. Erica, Althea and Anthony are doing an incredible job of steering the ship, it’s because of leaders like them that we, as young people, are able to operate in the spaces that we do. Every time we get together, I come back to Durham inspired, even the conversation I had with Aaron about the youth ministries we work with. I’m definitely looking forward to the next time we get together.

If servanthood is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you.

Peace and love, J. Reid



Justin “Jay” Reid hails from Durham, North Carolina. Since graduating in 2014 from North Carolina Central University with a BA in Political Science, Justin Reid has been heavily involved in improving Durham through social change/advocacy, entrepreneurship, mentoring, economic development and White House’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Prior to graduating, Justin got involved with voting inequalities, tobacco/health disparities in the African American community, and Durham’s mapping of MBK. In this process. he worked closely with the County Manager’s office and other community partners oversee and give insight on the youth component of MBK.

Justin serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Durham Black Chamber of Commerce, as Secretary and Vice-Chair of the Development committee, working to bridge the gap between the community and the colleges in the area.

In the summer of 2015, Justin opened a store of his own, right outside of Downtown Durham called Kulture Lifestyle Boutique, where he will utilize the skills he gained in various internships during his time at NCCU. After a year of ownership, Justin sold the store, he now focuses on using his gift of public speaking to curate and executive produce a podcast called Uncommon Ground. With the mix of technology and entrepreneurship, he and his team speak to and engage young people across the state and nation. The podcast focuses on entrepreneurship but caters to millennials and beyond by bringing together people from all walks of life in to share stories, failures, lessons and gems while packaging it to be informative and cool.

With a newly found passion for ministry, Justin volunteers with his home church’s youth ministry, OneLife, that serves over 200 students per week during their Wednesday night service. In this role, Justin mentors a group of high school boys (his “small group”), oversees a team of 5 “small group” leaders, and manages all operational aspects of service under Youth Pastor, Emmanuel “Manny” Arango, and Assistant Youth Pastor Anderson “AB” Bunn. Justin was also pivotal in the operational execution of OneLife’s first annual Flood Conference which in 4 months of marketing engaged over 500 teenagers from all over North Carolina. This gives him the opportunity to exercise his muscles on all four of his core passions, youth work, strategic planning, entrepreneurship and social change.



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