Regina Ford Hall gets out a lot, and she packs a lot into her time.
In one day, back when she was working for U.S. Rep. Mel Watts, she met with Watts, met President Barack Obama, went to see U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, and “I ended my day helping a homeless veteran get his housing benefit,” she says.
Since becoming executive director of the Boston-Thurmond Initiative last year, she has hurled herself into getting to know the neighborhood and the people in it. Boston-Thurmond is a revitalization project that’s part of a nationwide network of Purpose Built Communities.
“With education, health, and housing, we can make a positive impact on intergenerational poverty,” Hall says. “Working with residents and key investors, we can make changes from the inside out.”
Hall, 37, has known she was a leader since middle school when she was voted Student Council president. In 2016, she received a 40 Under 40 Award for Public Service at East Carolina University and a Winston Under 40 Award from Greater Winston-Salem, Inc.
Hall adamantly avoids hierarchical structures. She says that she learns from everybody. She calls the people who work for her a team, not employees.
She studied communications and psychology at ECU, and she has a master’s degree in psychology from Virginia State University. In May, Hall received another degree — a Master’s of Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.
“I know government work, but if this is the track I’m going to be on, I want to be taken seriously in the field,” she says.
Making connections is her “secret sauce,” Hall says. “I can build off of what the residents want. … I find joy in knowing that today’s efforts are toward long-term goals. I feel like I can grow with the work and see it manifest over time.
“One of coolest things about my job is that it's intergenerational — for the most part, most of the beneficiaries of this work have not even been born yet. To me, that’s both purposeful and powerful. That’s why I enjoy my job — it’s another way for me to give back to a city that has given so much to me.”
One of Hall’s first jobs was with the City of Winston-Salem.
Maurice “Mo” Green, chair of the board of the Boston-Thurmond Network and executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, was on the interview team that hired Hall.
“Regina is intelligent, personable, and a creative thinker,” Green says. “She’s committed to the work and the people in the Boston-Thurmond community.
“The interview team was so impressed with her and with these traits, and we have not been disappointed. All of these traits have come through in her work.”
What has the COVID-19 taught you?
COVID-19 was a challenge that none of us expected. We had to act fast and think outside the box. We believed our commitment to the residents of Boston-Thurmond was critically important, and they deserved our best efforts to push through during a time of crisis. Perseverance and creative thinking allowed us to meet urgent needs within the community in ways that were both safe and impactful.
How do you de-stress?
I meditate every day. The first 10 or 15 minutes of the day are spent in thankfulness. I think about hope: what I hope to do and the person I hope to be. I try to call my grandmother, 87, every day. I try to watch at least one episode of “The Golden Girls”; and play a weekend game of Uno with my husband and my daughter, 6.
What is your advice for women leaders?
Do it scared. Be brave. I never saw myself in the nonprofit world, and all my objections were based in fear. Then, I said why not? Everything I’ve done has been based in community. So I said, ‘I’ll try it. I’ll do it scared.’
Information about Boston-Thurmond is at bostonthurmondunited.org.