When you visit Sadiqa Reynolds at work at Mayor Greg Fischer’s office, you can see why she secretly wants to run a spa. Anything that promotes relaxation and tranquility would be a nice change of pace from working in the epicenter of Louisville government. Abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” and Reynolds appends his quote to all of her email. She sees firsthand the benefits of compassion and of fixing problems at their source.
What do you do for a living?
I am the chief for community building in the Office of the Mayor.
You started as an attorney and became a judge. How did you get to where you are now?
I show up and work hard in every position that I am in. Hard work and passion stand out, and people want to tap you as a resource. This position, my best professional opportunity, came after a career loss. It is proof that God’s imagination is better than ours.
You talk about solving problems with compassion by addressing them “upstream.” What do you mean by this?
Think about the problem of youth violence. When young people act out, you arrest them, charge them and respond with more police protection — because people deserve to feel safe in their communities. That is one way of addressing the issue. Then you get profiles on the youths who are committing the violence and realize 90% of them are reading below their grade level. They are on free and reduced lunch. One in four have been sexually abused. I want to talk about what we are doing wrong in education. I want to address poverty. Looking upstream is looking at the cause of the disconnectedness that led to the violence.
It’s the same with health issues. We can spend every dollar on creating powerful drugs that help you live with diabetes, or we can teach you how to eat and live healthy to prevent it. Upstream responses take longer and they are not as sexy, but they will change the world.
One more thing — on Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. Why is anyone surprised? Racism is real. His thoughts and comments are not anomalies. Ban him for life, fine him, whatever. You want to fix the issue? Deal with racism in this country. Racism plays a role in the way our country operates. It literally impacted the way it was built, getting factored into decisions about where to put expressways and bridges, in order to keep people separated.
What is the best part of your job?
Removing obstacles to get to results that can be life-changing or community-changing.
How about the hardest part of your job?
The constant criticism by people who only have half of the information and often are not interested in the truth.
How do you balance your job and your personal life?
I stink at it sometimes. I am much more of a recluse in my personal life than people realize. I love, love, love time with family and friends, but I’m not really into hanging out with acquaintances. When I have free time I want to be surrounded by people I love. I enjoy spa time and reading. Because I have two small children, I just took a year to read a book. I kept falling asleep and losing my page and reading the same stuff over and over.
What is the biggest life lesson you have ever learned?
I must trust my gut, even when the data is not there. It is always God directing me. I get into trouble when I go against my gut.
Who is your mentor?
A former law professor, Carolyn Bratt.
What is best advice you have received in business?
There must be a constant focus on performance improvement.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
Run a spa resort.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I have a wicked sense of humor and I have been skydiving with the Golden Knights.
What is your favorite place to go eat?
Shonita and Bill’s house, my friends. Bill is a fabulous chef. No one, no place is better, and there is love there.
Where do you like to shop?
I only enjoy shopping for the kids. The Children’s Place, Crazy 8, Justice.
What is a treat or a luxury you do for yourself?
A spa day, capped off by a delicious meal.
What is your weakness?
What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
Anything with folks who make me laugh. My friends and I can make anything the best thing ever.
What are three things you cannot live without, besides faith, family and friends?
Trust, love and spa day.
What are you reading?
What are three of your favorite things right now ?
Excluding God, family and friends again, the adapter in my car that lets me play my iPod, the edamame sold at Kroger that you can steam in the bag and my readers – because apparently I now need glasses.
We loved visiting with Sadiqa and immersing ourselves in her job and life, even if it was a brief stay. Thanks to her for sharing it with us.
As always, much gratitude to my FACES photographer Adele Reding and her fantastic work. See her profile here: www.facebook.com