Reshard el-Shair was born and raised in Georgia, moving back and forth between Atlanta and parts around the metro area. After graduating from Douglas County High School, he went on to attend Oberlin College where, four years later, he completed his undergraduate degree program in Political Science. At Oberlin, Reshard served as his class' President for two years, a student senator for two years, and as Student Finance Committee Chair where he managed the policy creation and allocation of a $1 million fund to over 100 organizations. This work followed and prefaced other political and community organizing work including fighting for community access to educational resources at Oberlin College, building political awareness in the community through the youth, capping carbon pollution on new coal-fired power plants, fighting for minority voter registration, and directing/ managing key get-out-the-vote campaigns in Georgia and Ohio.
Reshard currently serves as Administrative Director of FIT For The Future, a community development organization based in the city where he graduated from high school and serving the metro-Atlanta area. Reshard is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Myriad News, an online editorial news source covering Politics, Intersections, and Technology. On the side, he also builds websites for a wide variety of clients (and he made this website, too).
I think it's in my blood. I started work in political organizing toward the end of high school before I knew that helping your community had this name. With three fellow '08 graduating classmates, we founded The Summit, an organization created to generate political awareness in the community through the youth. Back before we knew how difficult political organizing was supposed to be, we hosted a debate for local candidates running for office and helped residents register to vote at a popular festival in Atlanta.
That's what started it. After graduating from Oberlin College where I was President of my class for two years, a Student Senator for four semesters, and chair of the Student Finance Committee, I gained my first paid organizing jobs. During the 2012 election season, I worked as an Associate Director and Organizer of a two campaigns in key Ohio districts helping to conduct the EPA's public comment collection period for their Carbon Pollution Standard and Environment Ohio's campaigns to support environmentally supportive candidates in the Northeast.
From there, I went on to help steer the One Town Campaign of Oberlin, a true grassroots movement geared toward bridging divides between Oberlin College and the broader community of Oberlin, Ohio. At the time, One Town's main objective was to amend Oberlin College's trespass policy, and in seven months with the people, the press, and the college's administration, the One Town Campaign succeeded in having Oberlin College enact a new policy which very closely resembled the proposal policy submitted by One Town. The draft became policy over the course of about a month marked by public forums with the community, focused meetings with community partners to translate achievable goals into policy, and negotiating specific terms with the college's administration. While the final terms of the college's new policy represented real progress on an issue that hadn't seen any for decades, it did not meet all of the community's needs. In the end, as a private institution, my alma mater is free to decide their own policies.
With another nationally covered campaign from 2014 under my belt, experience has shown me that progress can be made, but it always takes creative organization around real issues that motivate the people. In 2008, Georgia Democrats registered an astounding number of minority voters, and in 2014, Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams' New Georgia Project managed to collect or help collect an even greater number. Even though the politically motivated investigation of the New Georgia Project by the Secretary of State put a hold on further registrations and delayed over half of the organization's collected registrations until after the 2014 elections, over 45,000 minority voters became eligible to vote. Progress is often slow, but it's always inertial. The Georgia Secretary of State's delay of ~40,000 minority voter registrations until after the election in which he participated as a candidate gained national attention, sparking real resistance to blatant voter suppression by Republicans nationwide. Progress is inertial.
Every entrepreneur will tell you that their entrepreneurial journey has been a crazy one - or so I'd like to believe.
I started my entrepreneurial journey at Oberlin College where I was inspired to start a social network, like half of all the other college-aged, Apple-wielding millenials. Thankfully, I adjusted my goals a bit, and by the end of my senior year, I was receiving positive feedback from some pretty high net-worth individuals. The journey to this low-level sort of competency was long, filled with classes, cold-calls, and countless business models and plans tossed in the trash. After all the classes and experiences at Oberlin, my final pitch before a panel of investors narrated the coming years of my entrepreneurial life:
After the discouragement wore off, the next entrepreneurial endeavor I found for myself proved the point in a far different language than I had expected. Cookies were the product. Custom, candy cookies, to be exact, and the funnily titled "Awake 'N Bake" sold a lot of them. I found myself as an early member of a startup which didn't have a fancy office, didn't have dedicated high-speed internet service, and didn't make weekly sales calls according to some document from the C-suite. We just had a product that people loved, and executing on a few key activities that brought the product to the people was enough to get traction. We went on to sustain ourselves for more than a year, and the business survives today. The lessons I learned there simply centered aroud focus: focus on the product, focus on brand, focus on the customer, and focus on delivery. It's worked well, so far.
The next notable venture that I've come into is home-grown. Founded in the city where I graduated from High School, F.I.T. For The Future is a faith-based community development group which serves many of the needs of the community, meeting them where they are, and appreciating those who make the effort to go further. To date, we have hosted sports camps for the youth featuring sessions with professional athletes, awards ceremonies for community trailblazers, holiday food drives, toy drives, and we continue to host a curriculum-based youth camp designed to build essentials skills that kids will need to be successful adults. Find out more about us at www.fitforthefuture.us
And my latest venture, Myriad News, is an online editorial news source covering Politics, Intersections, and Technology. We focus on bringing quality editorial content to readers, expressing the personal nature behind events, the motivations behind our politics, and the impact of technology on how we live our lives. Myriad is currently in Beta and will be released publicly soon. Check us out at www.myriadnews.com
My motivation to pursue web design was born of an interest in making my individual projects more successful and accessible. Eventually, I was forced to develop my skills out of necessity, and now, I accept projects, developing websites according to client needs. Each project is unique. So, cost varies, but I'm reasonable.
Here is a sampling of some work that I've done:
I've had a very, very interesting faith journey, to say the least. My upbringing is pretty unremarkable. I was raised in the Christian church as a Southern Baptist, but my family occasionally wandered into churches of other denominations and even a non-denominational one. Faith was always an important part of my life, when I reflect on it, but not long after being in college, that began to change.
I don't remember exact dates, but over the course of my college career and for more than a year afterward, I teetered between Atheism and Agnosticism, generally feeling that if there was a god, I couldn't tell. That was a very interesting, turbulent time. I saw how difficult it was to navigate without a North on my compass. When I was doing ok, I was doing great, but when I made a wrong turn, it became harder and harder to right my ship. Thankfully, my ship never crashed.
Now, I'm Christian again, and the world feels right. My conversion back to the faith was the result of what I can only attribute to God. Something touched a friend, and that friend, who I assumed was no great friend of the church, asked me to go to church with them. I'm sure my reaction was screen-worthy. The way that his invitation aligned with a new, persistent, albeit annoying, interest in wandering back toward Christ had left me dumb-struck. It was exactly what I needed, though, and for me, it reaffirmed the central concept of Christianity: God will meet us where we are, if we open ourselves up to Him.
I generally dislike publicly expressing my faith because of the counter-productive way that it is often received, but I understand first-hand, the importance of testimony. So, rather than continue on, here are just a few Bible verses that resonate with my current path: