Inspirational Woman Interview: Maya Rockeymoore Cummings

Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is the Founder, President and CEO of Global Policy Solutions LLC, a social change strategy firm, and the Center for Global Policy Solutions, a nonprofit think and action organization. Dr. Rockeymoore has directed successful research and advocacy strategies for an array of nonprofit, philanthropic, academic and corporate clients. She has presented and written extensively about health issues, and co-authored the Action Strategies for Healthy Communities Toolkit and has published articles in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and the National Association of State Boards of Education’s State Education Standard. Moreover, Dr. Rockeymoore is the co-editor of Strengthening Community: Social Insurance in a Diverse America and the co-author of Plan for a New Future: The Impact of Social Security Reform on Communities of Color. She was named an Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow in 2004. Rockeymoore has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, CNN, Fox News, and C- SPAN among other media outlets. Dr. Rockeymoore holds a B.A. in political science and mass communications from Prairie View A&M University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science, with an emphasis in public policy, from Purdue University.

How did you first become interested in policy issues and join Global Policy Solutions?

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: I have been deeply interested in public policy since I won the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in Public Policy and International Affairs in my junior year of college. As a part of this award, I spent a summer at the Heinz School for Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University where I learned about policy formation, implementation and evaluation as well as the ins and outs of various policy tools and approaches. As a political scientist with a specialty in public policy, I have carried my interests into my career working as an aide in a county health department, professional staff on Capitol Hill, in policy think tanks, and eventually as the Founder, President and CEO of Global Policy Solutions LLC and the Center for Global Policy Solutions.

Can you tell us about some of Global Policy Solutions‘ current research projects?

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: Our latest report illuminates how a rapid transition to driverless vehicle technology would affect workers from different demographic groups and areas of the country. The study finds that 4.1 million jobs could be lost in such a scenario with white men potentially experiencing the greatest numerical job loss and men of color disproportionately affected due to their overrepresentation in professional driving jobs. Our recent research on entrepreneurship found that businesses owned by men and women of color contributed more than 1.3 million jobs to the U.S. economy following the Great Recession. Even though their numbers are growing, the study estimated that the U.S. is missing an estimated 1.1 million businesses owned by people of color due to current and past discrimination in U.S. society.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced leading Global Policy Solutions and how did you seek to overcome them?

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: One of the biggest challenges leading Global Policy Solutions is deliberately and consistently cultivating an environment that allows people to maximize their contributions to our mission. I’ve learned that you have to be intentional about setting values, standards of excellence, and building a culture of respect.

You are the writer of The Political Action Handbook: A How to Guide for the Hip-Hop Generation. What inspired you to write this book and can you tell us about the writing process?

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: I am a political scientist by training, and it disturbed me to no end when I would hear young people speaking in dismissive or uninformed ways about the political process. I wanted to develop a resource that could give them better information about why becoming involved is important. I also wanted to give them basic information about how the system works and what they could do to make a contribution.

Outside your work, what are your favorite hobbies and pastimes?

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: I like to walk, go to the beach, read, paint, and go to church.

Can you talk about one woman who has impacted you?

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: I can’t just talk about one, I have to acknowledge the two most influential women in my life. The first is my late mother, Hazel Brown Rockeymoore, who loved me with all her heart and made every decision in life to ensure that I and my siblings had the best possible chance at success in life. The second is my late mentor, Dr. Jewel Limar Prestage, who was the first African American woman to earn her Ph.D. in political science in the U.S. She “adopted” me while I was in college and became my academic guide, professional advisor, and personal friend.

What are your favorite books, websites, films and/or resources?

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: When I get a chance to read, I pick up historical fiction that give me a sense of the times in which the characters lived. You would be surprised about how much history you can learn through novels. I rarely go to the movies anymore but I’m looking forward to seeing A Wrinkle in Time when it is released next Spring.

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