HAND: The HAND Team is excited to have you on board as the Director of Public Policy! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your past work experience?
Taylor: I’m so excited to join the HAND team! I’m originally from Gwinnett County, Georgia, right outside of Atlanta, but DC feels like a second home as I lived here for almost 6 years working in consulting in the federal government and social impact spaces. In my past work, I helped nonprofits and foundations trying to create a more equitable world define their vision and strategy, outline the steps it would take to get there, and evaluate what is working along the way. I’ve also worked with government clients to craft and execute their environmental policy agendas. Most recently, I continued to hone my cross-sector focused toolkit by completing a dual MBA/MPA with the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
HAND: Tell us about your recent studies and how you will apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to your new role.
Taylor: My driving force behind studying business and policy in graduate school was to learn more about cross-sector approaches to combatting inequality and barriers to socioeconomic mobility for underinvested communities. My studies definitely strengthened my understanding of how to analyze, design, and implement strategies at the organizational or regional level and the leadership at all levels needed to get there. The interdisciplinary nature of my studies also reinforced for me the importance (and complexity) of collaborative action across sectors to help create a world where all people can thrive. I look forward to putting into practice the lessons learned in my role at HAND and continuing to learn from the team and the HAND community.
HAND: What are you most looking forward to over the coming months at HAND? Are there any projects that you are particularly excited about?
Taylor: I’m really excited to meet more of the incredible HAND membership! There is such a rich variety of experiences and perspectives, and I’m eager to learn more about what folks are up to and what role the HAND policy agenda can play in helping to advance their work and have a positive impact on the lives of BIPOC residents of the Capital Region.
HAND: As the Director of Public Policy, you’ll be overseeing HAND’s advocacy work, including the Housing Indicator Tool (HIT). What value do you hope members can gain from the use and growth of the tool?
Taylor: By using the HIT tool, I hope members can find a helpful partner in better understanding what is going on across the regional housing landscape and their local jurisdiction, and advocating for changes that lead to reduced inequality in housing in our region. Overall, I hope the information that the expanded HIT offers can inspire members and spark conversation and action.
HAND: What is your “why” for working in this industry?
Taylor: What drives me is a vision of a world where zip code and race are not predictors of outcomes. I’m the daughter of a Trinidadian immigrant and an Atlanta native, and I have seen through my own family’s experience how place and race impact so much of people’s abilities to thrive. I believe that making a world that is more just and equitable requires redesigning systems and places. The housing and community development field at large is a powerful lever to do that, and I’m humbled to be able to work with people who are passionate about doing the work to create that world.
HAND: What might you be doing if you weren’t working in this space?
Taylor: I studied civil engineering in school and for as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by how the built environment impacts people’s ability to thrive. I went into cross-sector work because I realized that it took more than physical technology to ensure the right things are getting built and that people who are most vulnerable can also benefit. But if I wasn’t doing this work, I’d likely be embracing the design and engineering parts of my brain and my love of making things as an engineer or architect. For now, I embrace that creative side at home through copious DIY projects!