A SEAT AT THE TABLE WITH DESTINY DRAKE WEST
Exploring, documenting and critiquing the brave new world of women’s policy
When it comes to the bringing together of minds for the benefit of womankind, rarely have I ever met someone quite so passionate and put together as Destiny Drake West. Sitting in conversation with her feels like drinking tea with your best friend, if your best friend were Michelle Obama that is. You know she's a big deal but you can't help but feel at great ease in her presence. It's safe to say I liked her from day one.
Innovator and relentless in her commitment to the pursuit of women’s empowerment Destiny founded The Drake Institute of Research and Policy, a nonpartisan policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. with a lofty goal is to assist women legislators at every level of government to discover issues specifically affecting women which until now were under-researched hidden sub-topics, often going unrecognised and unseen in the media or on news channels. By taking a proactive rather than reactive approach to research their team can take on these areas of policy and identity gaps in policymaking where crucial needs remain unmet, creating lists of recommendations for legislators to consider adopting and improving the quality of life for some 25 million women across the United States.
It's safe to say that when Destiny joins any table, people are more than ready to listen. I am extremely proud to be able to introduce this inspirational fearless female to our readers. As a Brit, and therefore not particularly up to speed on my American Politics (other than the many and varied news stories), I was keen to learn a little more from the ground up and Destiny was only too happy to take me through all I needed to know to understand her work. That, I quickly learned, is Destiny through and through, patient, kind and a great teacher.
So what brought this razor-sharp innovator to the world of research and politics?
LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS
As former co-chair of Empowerment Congress Central Area Neighbourhood Development Council, Destiny worked to represent some 20,000 residents and stakeholders in South Los Angeles, California. During her tenure, she authored the first-of-its-kind public policy at the neighbourhood council level that addressed homelessness and the growing rate of crime and vagrancy in the district. In recent years, Destiny served as a policy advisor in the office of Congressman Alcee Hastings and as a legislative officer for Prince George’s County Executive, Angela Alsobrooks.
Holding a Master of Advanced Study in Criminology, Law, and Society from the University of California, Irvine and a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from California Baptist University as well as a certificate in Public Policy from the Los Angeles African American Women Public Policy Institute (LAAAWPPI) Destiny’s accomplishments are vast and impressive to say the very least. She is also the recipient of the 2017 Dickman Graduate Research Award for Community Engagement presented by the University of California Irvine and has received several congressional awards, including a Certificate of Recognition from U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Congresswoman Karen Bass, and a Certificate of Special Recognition from Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
Moving into setting up The Drake Institute of Research and Policy and surrounding herself with a powerful board of advisors seems only fitting for such a forward-thinking pioneer.
WORLD CHANGING WOMEN
I remarked to Destiny during one of our early conversations that it was women like her who would change the world. Powerful and committed I could clearly see that she was made for the work she had undertaken. Destiny lights up the room when she talks about bringing a fresh perspective to public policy discourse and developing public policy solutions that women and their families can trust at every level of government.
Destiny and her team believe that women can fully participate in society only when the laws that govern promote safety, equity, and justice for all people and that by providing access to high-quality information and research support, legislators can recognise gaps in policy and research which could help them develop better policy solutions for women and their families all across America. They provide high quality, high impact research by teaming up with academics and stakeholders facilitating the exchange of ideas and information with legislators, bridging the information gap and spotlighting once unseen issues affecting the lives of millions of women.
The forward thinking Drake Institute of Research and Policy will be publishing its 2020 legislative review journal in May and is now accepting submissions from legislators, scholars, and civic leaders nationwide. Featuring a collection of op-eds written by women legislators from across the nation about pressing public policy issues impacting women and their families in the United States. With an impressive distribution list of more than 3000 academics, civic leaders, and women legislators serving in legislatures at the state, county, and municipal levels nationwide as well as digital copies available to purchase by members of the public, the review promises to focus on priority issues of Environmental Health, Maternal Health, Prison Reform (debt reduction), Religious Freedom (religious attire), Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the C-Suite, Women in Finance, Domestic Peacebuilding and Animal Welfare not to mention another twenty seven policy issue areas coveting more than 300 topics.
What could they uncover? In truth no one yet knows, with 35 areas of policy currently under review the Drake Institute of Research and Policy is gathering momentum. Fast. With rapidly rising numbers of socially diverse members from service workers to high powered executives these women of America are representing millions of voices both heard and unheard, unboxing women’s issues and following the lead of their CEO in the relentless pursuit of women’s empowerment.
A driving force of equality and change for the better? Absolutely.
Will they change the world? I think they just might.
You can find out more about Destiny by checking out The Drake Institute of Research and Policy