On June 9, the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) hosted Alex Reeves, the Director of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America and a native of Atlanta, who sat down with community members to discuss his background, his journey to CGI, and the opportunities and challenges of leading the charge for social impact.
Before joining CGI, Reeves helped launch an education-focused community development initiative in Athens, Georgia that received one of the initial Promise Neighborhood grants from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010. In his role at CGI America, an organization focused on economic prosperity and increased social mobility in the US, Reeves works with participants to develop programs related to domestic education issues.
As a native ATLien Reeves has been away for approximately five years, but has a soft spot for the city and is amazed by its transformation. He perceives a shift in the way Atlanta views itself. Historically, people look toward “the next big thing” to make their cities greater, often a singular event, like a festival, major conference, or sporting event. However, he says Atlanta itself is the next big thing. Instead of searching for an event that will promote the city, people are looking at individuals and resources already present in the community as the key to advancing Atlanta.
After reflecting on his professional journey to CGI, he mentioned critical takeaways from his experiences. His first takeaway: the hardest and most important work during his grant writing process was bringing groups of people together. Regardless of whether he won the grant or not, forming those relationships created important conversations that initiated meaningful change.
His second takeaway: change is often executed at the organizational or governmental level, but individual stories drive change. Data shows facts about an issue. Personal narratives engage people on a deep, emotional level and inspire them to make an impact. As a result, it is critical that people tell their stories. For this reason, Reeves says, “There’s no advocate too small.” Anyone can be an agent of social change.