Shakira Munden, Senior Program Officer, AIR

Tell us a little bit about your background and why you joined Workforce Matters. 

I am a senior program officer at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), working on the AIR Equity Initiative. In this role, I lead in the Justice in Public Safety and Policing, Workforce Development, and co-lead the Scholars and Leaders Awards grant program areas. The Equity Initiative is AIR’s five-year, $100M+ investment in behavioral and social science research and technical assistance to address the underlying causes of systemic inequity. In our Workforce Development area, the AIR Equity Initiative funding seeks to uncover the most effective strategies and partnerships to build an equitable 21st-century workforce development ecosystem, particularly for those that have been most isolated from opportunity.
Prior to joining AIR, I worked for over 15 years leveraging leadership, capacity-building, technical assistance, and research expertise across multiple sectors–including non-profit, public service, and higher education. In every role, my objective remains focused on addressing inequities by redefining organizational perspectives, policies, and practices.
As for joining Workforce Matters, the alignment was evident. Workforce Matters convenes organizations and most importantly, people, who seek to create an inclusive and accessible workforce space for deep-level equity changes. Focused on marginalized (BIPOC) communities, they’re genuinely dedicated to fulfilling an equity-driven mission for the long term. To fulfill this mission, Workforce Matters and the AIR Equity Initiative understand that reducing systemic inequities requires collaborative efforts, resources, and diversified thought leadership for the greatest impact. This is the work of the many- not the few. 

What is something people might not know about you? 

On a personal note, I am a bit of a creative soul. I am huge fan of black and white (TCM) classic films, multiple music genres, literature, art, and theatre. Some of my favorites are  Stormy Weather and A Philadelphia Story, Sade, Miles Davis, Bach to Hall and Oates, Audre Lorde, pointillism paintings, and Hamilton.

What is something you are looking forward to this year?  

This year, I am looking forward to developing greater funding opportunities, collaborative learning spaces, and intersectional approaches to mitigate the harmful effects of segregation by race and place. In return, I hope to learn more about intricate community needs, funding approaches, and anything else that offsets negative social determinants of health.

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