For this week’s Woman Wednesday, AY About You highlights Regina Taylor, the chief community initiatives officer for the Arkansas Foodbank.
Born and raised in Little Rock, Taylor always knew that she wanted to help people.
“When I was in college, Hurricane Katrina happened, and it spurred me to get more involved in the community,” Taylor says. “I changed my major from marketing to political science.”
After Taylor graduated from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, she attended the Clinton School of Public Service before working with the Girl Scouts, her church and then the Arkansas Foodbank.
Taylor shares the focus of her work. “I’m not only providing families with food, but focusing on how to feed children and seniors, and working on SNAP and other benefits. I also do lots of work in advocacy,” she says. “Everything that I’ve done in life prepared me for this position at the food bank.”
Taylor discusses the impact that being a woman has on her work. “I think that women are multitaskers and multifaceted. We are in essence wives, mothers leaders. On one hand, I’m concerned about my child and I’m supportive of my household and how it’s run … and then I do that in the community as well.” Taylor noted that she has always felt like the mother of every group that she has been in, and that she is always lifting people up.
Having previously worked in a male-dominated environment, Taylor shares the advice of speaking up and finding your voice. She tells a story of a previous career that brought this advice to fruition.
“I remember I had a meeting maybe 10 years ago with two gentlemen, and I was bringing them together to talk about community strategy. They both looked at me and said that I was whining. But if I was a male and I was saying that, I think they would have worked with me easier,” she posits. “I had to find my voice and point out that ‘here’s the problem, now let’s work together to find the solution’. Being able to speak up was so important. I can’t just come to someone with a problem and expect them to solve it.”
In terms of other career-related advice, Taylor encourages women to seek out mentors in their lives.
“I am a mentor at heart. I think that in every position I’ve had, I’ve always sought out a mentor, or someone in the community that I can call on, especially if you’re in a male-dominated field,” Taylor says. “Seek out a mentor, someone that you can confide in and someone who can provide coaching and input when that is what you’re looking for.”
Taylor says that her future aspirations are to continue being a builder and connector in her community.