DeAna Oliver currently works as a Talent Acquisition for a PR & Marketing firm in New York City. She also works with Fencing in the Park, providing fencing lessons for youth development in the city.
“Changes are products of intensive efforts.” – Professor Yunus
Creating change is often a challenging task for those who seek to make it. As Professor Yunus says, an “intensive effort” is crucial to problem solving for change in the sports sector. Yunus Sports Hub combines this effort with the power of sport to solve social problems that the world faces such as inequality. DeAna Oliver’s current position allows her to create change by building bridges between marginalized communities and the corporate world.
As with any industry, there are certainly social challenges that need to be tackled within the sports world. DeAna is one example of someone using the power of sport and social business to solve problems. Based in Montclair, New Jersey, about 30 minutes outside of New York City, her efforts are creating change in her profession, community, and her sport.
“I would like to be a change agent for many companies and work within to build long term change not quick fixes.”
DeAna joined the Yunus Sports Hub Sport & Social Business community during the COVID-19 Sport Response. During this time, DeAna learned about the idea of what a global social business network can do for sports and individuals from all around the world. Her passion for sports and creating positive change has led her to take on the role as a Sport & Social Business community leader.
Using this knowledge along with her personal experiences, DeAna seeks to be an agent of change. Through her professional career, DeAna works as a positive advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace. Hoping to help companies build a greater understanding of what diversity could bring to an organization, DeAna realizes sport and social business are powerful tools to build upon their core competencies.
“It not only creates another outlet for kids to express themselves but it ultimately exposes them to the other sports that are out there, alongside black individuals excelling in it as well.”
DeAna’s sport, fencing, has seen immense improvements in diversity and inclusion within the last 5 years. Thanks to the intensive efforts of people like Peter Westbook, the sport is starting to see real change. The Peter Westbrook Foundation helps thousands of kids, including DeAna, reach their full potential on and off the fencing strip. DeAna is following in her old coach’s footsteps to inspire the next generation of fencers.
After competing for 10 years in the sport that lacks diversity, DeAna recognized the value of representation and having someone to look up to that may look like yourself. Although she has put her own training on hold, DeAna is still working to be that role model for aspiring fencers of color. Working alongside the Olympian Nzingha Prescott, she helps with Fencing in the Park. This is an organization that provides fencing lessons for youth development in the Flatbush and Harlem communities in New York City.
“They made it their duty to help all communities.”
DeAna credits some of her success to the long line of trailblazers and change-makers in her family that have paved the way. Although she knows there is plenty more work to get done, DeAna has realized that everyone can be a leader in their own way! It is up to you to make the decision to help others along the way.
Her best advice to problem solvers is to get out of your comfort zone and talk to people in spaces you would not normally speak in. Changing your perspective, keeping an open mind and having a willingness to learn are all parts of the intensive efforts required to create change.
“Remind yourself of why you started this journey in the first place.”
As a Community Leader, DeAna hopes to empower others across the globe who share the same passion of tackling inequality in sports and in the workplace. In the Sport & Social Business Community, we collectively learn about sport and social business, take global action, and help others. We believe that you too can make the difference. Join us and make it happen.
To learn more about how to use sport & social business to tackle problems in your community join the Sport & Social Business Community.