Maqubè Reese. Photo by Martin Boling


Maqubè Reese’s first name was created by her mother—a combination of the names of her four aunts. “I feel like I embody all of them,” she says. “I absolutely love my name. I feel like I live it every day.”

As she gets ready to enter her 30s in 2021, that wellspring of family appears to fuel a very busy life. Reese works as the assistant director of diversity initiatives for the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and is engaged in an abundance of community work. She recently completed a term with the City of Bloomington’s Commission on the Status of Women and chaired the City’s Black History Month Committee. She currently serves on the City’s Board of Public Safety, is the vice president of the Monroe County Branch of the NAACP, and is involved with Count Us In Indiana, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging diverse voter turnout.

Raised on the south side of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Reese is the youngest of 13 children and a “proud first- generation college graduate,” she says. Her parents, who Reese refers to as loving and supportive, both died of health complications earlier in her life.

“I’ve benefited from going to therapy to get some help through that trauma—not only with grief but trauma as a Black woman,” she says. “Being a Black woman in America is just hard—being Black in America is hard. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult. I just want to live, right? There is definitely deep-rooted, complex, structural, systemic racism that still affects and plagues us today.

“I think about my mom, and the fact that she had 13 beautiful Black kids and brought them into this world. She advocated for us every day, and I can only imagine what that felt like. When I’m advocating for just me sometimes, I’m exhausted.”

Reese came to Indiana University on scholarships through the Group Scholars and 21st Century Scholars programs. She studied human development and family studies, graduating in 2015. She also has a nonprofit management certificate, and an Eli Lilly Philanthropic certificate.

For five years, she worked as an advisor for the Groups Scholars Program.

Reese focuses on what she is able to observe, engage, heal, and create. She completed her master’s in social work last year, applying her understanding of mental health to the community work she does and her career, and she works part-time as a therapist for adolescents at Bloomington Meadows Hospital.

When the pandemic hit last March, she started a Facebook group called Humanity for the Win, which is a growing, international “space to highlight how humanity succeeds against all odds,” according to its published description. Group members post stories about “how humans are peacefully helping humans financially, spiritually, mentally, and physically.”

“It’s part of my passion to build interconnected community,” Reese says.