Dr. Karl W. Reid was named executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) on June 2, 2014, marking his return to the organization that gave him his first major leadership experience, 32 years earlier. For the past 17 years, he has been a leading advocate for increasing college access and opportunity for low-income and minority youth.
Dr. Reid came to NSBE from the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), where he oversaw new program development, research and capacity building for the organization’s 37 historically black colleges and universities and held the title of senior vice president for research, innovation and member college engagement. Before his service at UNCF, he worked in positions of progressive responsibility to increase diversity at his alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which he left as associate dean of undergraduate education and director of the Office of Minority Education. While working at MIT, Dr. Reid earned his Doctor of Education degree at Harvard University. His dissertation explored the interrelationship of race, identity and academic achievement.
Dr. Reid was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and grew up in Roosevelt, N.Y., a mostly working-class, African-American community on Long Island. The high value his parents placed on education, and his admission to a well-resourced, magnet high school near Roosevelt, put him on a track to follow his older brother to MIT, where he earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in materials science and engineering and was a Tau Beta Pi Scholar. He credits his membership in the NSBE chapter at MIT with giving a vital boost to his self-confidence and leadership skills. He joined the Society during his freshman year, was elected chapter vice president his junior year and subsequently served as NSBE national chair for 1984–85.
After graduating from MIT, Dr. Reid worked in the computer industry for 12 years, in product management, marketing, sales and consulting. In 1991, five years into a successful career in sales and marketing with IBM Corporation, Dr. Reid read Jonathan Kozol’s “Savage Inequalities,” a seminal book about educational disparities in the U.S., which sparked his passion for bringing about positive change through education of African Americans.
Dr. Reid is now supporting NSBE’s National Executive Board and the Society’s 31,000 members in reaching the main goal of NSBE’s 10-year Strategic Plan: to end the underrepresentation of blacks in engineering in the U.S. by producing 10,000 black engineers per year in the country, by 2025.