Ben Reese Receives Lifetime Diversity Achievement Award

Triangle Business Journal honors longtime Duke administrator

Ben Reese was recognized Sept. 9 with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in diversity and inclusion. Photo courtesy of Ben Reese.
Ben Reese was recognized Sept. 9 with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in diversity and inclusion. Photo courtesy of Ben Reese.

Ben Reese, who has worked at Duke for 20 years in various roles supporting diversity and inclusion, was recognized last week by the Triangle Business Journal for his career’s work.

The media outlet celebrated Reese with its Lifetime Achievement Award at the Journal’s annual Leaders in Diversity Awards Sept. 9. Reese, who joined Duke in 1996 as an assistant vice president in the Office of Institutional Equity, serves as vice president for the office, where he oversees diversity, inclusion, affirmative action/equal opportunity activities and harassment/discrimination prevention for the university and the health system. He’s also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Community & Family Medicine and Psychology and Neuroscience. 

Reese received the award during a ceremony in downtown Raleigh.

“I have been fortunate to receive a number of awards and recognitions over the last 45 years, but to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award simply leaves me speechless,” said Reese, noting the importance of support from his family and mentors. “But, in no way do I feel that a Lifetime Achievement Award indicates that I’m finished. I hope that my contributions will be relevant and useful for a number of years to come.”

In the Triangle Business Journal’s announcement of naming Reese this year’s Lifetime Achievement winner, the publication said they selected the longtime Duke administrator for his “consistent commitment to equality, his effort to champion the idea that people of all ethnicities, beliefs, creeds should have a voice – and that all those voices should resonate at the same level.”

Among Reese’s accomplishments at Duke, he helped create and leads a Duke-wide Diversity Leaders Group that brings together almost 50 diversity champions and leaders from across the campus and health system. He has been the co-leader of the DUHS Diversity Group in the health system, a senior leadership group of clinicians and administrators focused specifically on health system diversity and inclusion. He is noted at Duke, as well as across the nation, as a leader in implicit bias workshop facilitation, and has conducted sessions with faculty staff and students, across the campus and health system.  Recently, he was invited to the Pentagon to conduct a workshop for Air Force leaders.

Over his career, Reese has represented the International Council of Psychologists and the World Federation for Mental Health at the United Nations and has served on the boards of Wake Technical Community College, One World Market and The Forest at Duke retirement community.  He helped create the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and served as its president for two terms.