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 22 years, he has been a leading advocate for increasing college access, opportunity and success 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 as director of Engineering Outreach Programs, Dr. Reid earned his Doctor of Education degree at Harvard University. His dissertation explored the interrelationship of race, identity and academic achievement. He is the author of “Working Smarter, Not Just Harder: Three Sensible Strategies for Succeeding in College…and Life.”
Dr. Reid was born in the Bronx, New York, and grew up in Roosevelt, New York, 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 during his junior year and subsequently served as NSBE national chair.
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 and other underserved populations.
Dr. Reid sits on the DC STEM Council, the Dean’s Advisory Cabinet of the Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Dean’s Advisory Council for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. He holds memberships in the American Association of Engineering Societies, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives. Dr. Reid is also a founding member of the 50K Coalition, a national effort to produce 50,000 diverse engineering graduates annually by 2025.
He is a frequent contributor to the national diversity engineering dialogue and author of several commentary pieces, and he has been quoted in numerous articles in publications such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Hechinger Report.
Dr. Reid is now supporting NSBE’s National Executive Board and the Society’s 25,000 active members in reaching the main goal of NSBE’s 10-year Strategic Plan: to partner with educational institutions to end the underrepresentation of blacks in engineering in the U.S. by producing 10,000 black engineers annually in the country, by 2025.