Video production: Andrew Kennedy Lewis
From being an NFL wide receiver to serving as a mission specialist for NASA, Leland Melvin has learned the importance of teamwork and equity, as well as the impact that comes with diversifying the talent pipeline.
Read the full transcript of Melvin’s interview below:
The main values, the core values for me throughout all the journeys that I’ve been through are to be a good team member, a good team player, and to ensure that everyone on the team has what they need to do the job because I think sometimes we think about equity and everyone having the same thing, but everyone doesn’t necessarily need the same thing. So making sure that we really focus on what this person needs, what that person needs, what that person needs so that they can be at their best in contributing to the team effort.
Hi, my name’s Leland Melvin, and I’m a retired astronaut.
We sometimes, when we think of being a learning officer or learning leader in a community, we have some typical stakeholders that we always go to and say, “This person can help do this part, this person can do this part.” But sometimes we miss out on going to nontraditional partners that you may not look at as being someone who can help with this mission, but [they] truly are.
You should really look at all the inputs from everyone in the community that can make a contribution because I think we usually have people that are tagged for education or for learning or for something, but maybe it’s a bank that’s looking to do things in the community, and they’re looking for future employees. So how do we create this pipeline of internships or scholarships or something that’s going to help this kid or this person navigate toward that bank? And then we’ve solved a problem.
Like in Lynchburg, Virginia, where I’m from, we have 25 percent poverty, and we’re really looking at how everyone can be a contributor. A lot of the poverty has to do with people not having transportation. So how can we institute better transportation? Not just the bus system because the bus system doesn’t always go to the designated neighborhoods that need it. How do we solve the transportation problem that can help solve the poverty problem? And sometimes we don’t see that there are little things like that that are keeping people from rising.