#MLKDay Series 2021: Ayanna Teesdale


Ayanna Teesdale
Director of Payroll
CEO New York City

As we celebrate the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, we asked a few of our staff and participant colleagues to share some reflections. What emerged are powerful statements touching on the unfinished work of racial and social justice, the importance of CEO’s mission and enduring legacy of Dr. King’s example.


"With the challenges and controversies that we are currently facing in society, Martin Luther King Jr. Day allows us to pause and honor one of America's greatest leaders. We are reminded on this day of all the risks, sacrifices, and consequences he faced to inspire us to stand for social justice and equality for all. Dr. King also showed us that making a difference is a team effort. He didn’t just give speeches, he asked people to join him in peaceful demonstrations and service to others. His words and actions help to inspire those struggling for social progress and opened the doors of opportunity for all people. He called us to get involved in something bigger than ourselves.

As I reflect on the work we do here at CEO and why it is so important to me, I realize it's because we are building a movement, just as Dr. King did. This movement touches everyone who is re-entering society after being incarcerated because one of the biggest challenges that previously incarcerated individuals face is securing and maintaining employment. With CEO's assistance, we are giving our clients a new sense of self, changing their attitudes about their past, and setting up an onboarding process that supports them in finding employment. CEO's goal is to assist these individuals to gain economic stability after being released from incarceration, reducing the likelihood of them returning to prison. My hope for social and economic justice in the future is that government institutions can focus on making sure that individuals in society have equal access to job opportunities that help them to build wealth and participate fully in civic life.

I am grateful to Dr. King for inspiring, teaching, and guiding this nation towards greater equality. I thank him also for the opportunities he has given millions of people worldwide, and for the hope he has instilled in me for a brighter tomorrow. Dr. King, we continue to fight your battle today, and I personally will never back down."