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30 Years of Public Service: Q&A with Development Director Tony Reevy

Staff member photo with quote

IEI Development Director Tony Reevy is celebrating 30 years of public service this month. We asked him a few questions to reflect on his career with the state.

Congratulations on 30 years in public service to the state of North Carolina! When and where did you start your career with the state?

I started working for a UNC System entity when I joined WFAE-FM in Charlotte. It was part of UNC Charlotte when I joined the station as its development director in 1990. I also worked as a lab clerk while an NC State undergraduate from 1979 to 1983, and worked as the business manager of WXYC-FM from 1985-1986, while a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill.

A framed poem
A gift given to Tony (pictured) from his colleagues when he left NC State to work at UNC-Chapel Hill.

A lot has changed since then, I’m sure. What would you say is the biggest difference between when you started and now?

When I started working for UNC system entities, there was a much larger dependence on state funding, at least at the large universities, than there is now. And advancement/development has become much more of an established profession than it was in 1990.

And what has stayed the same?

The best part of working at a university is the fun involved with working with students, and with faculty members, who are the creative heart of any great university.

What’s the most impactful thing you’ve learned in your career?

To overcome my proclivity as a talker, I am too much of a talker, and to learn to listen closely. I am most successful at deep listening when working with our great donors, who make the philanthropic investments that allow IEI, and the Shelton Leadership Center, to advance our mission and programs.

What are you most proud of from your time with the state?

I am going to have to take a bit of a liberty and cite a few things. One was helping WFAE-FM offset the loss of its State funding during the 1991 recession. Another was founding the NC State Libraries’ development program. Another was helping put together the environmental field site network at UNC-Chapel Hill. And, finally, and most recently, helping establish IEI’s BAND-NC program—digital equity and inclusion is one of the most important issues of this decade, in my view. And, for the other unit I represent, the Shelton Leadership Center, serving as the Center’s first development officer and helping name the Shelton Suite and also helping establish the first campus-wide, values-based leadership professorship at NC State. The latter is one of the few campus-wide professorships you can find in the entire UNC System.

I know you’ve also had success as a writer on the side! Can you tell us more about how you spent your time outside of work?

My hobbies are hiking, music, reading, travel, and being a bit of a railfan. My writing is somewhere between an avocation and a secondary vocation. I write every Saturday that I am home, and have published three full books of poetry and five non-fiction books focusing on aspects of the railroad in America. I have also published many single poems, essays (mostly for Hungarian Review), short stories, and non-fiction articles. My new book of poems, Turbulence, is scheduled to be released by my long-time poetry publisher, Iris Press, in May 2022.  

You’ve been at the Institute for Emerging Issues now for four years. What do you think is the most pressing issue facing North Carolina?

Like the world of which we are a part, this is a very turbulent period in our history (2016-present). I think the most pressing issue facing our state is our “canyon” of political division. Folks talk over and past each other, and politics can even divide families.

Anything else you want to share?

NC State is a great place to work, and I am, as a graduate, the spouse of a graduate, and the father of a graduate, exceptionally proud to represent this world-class university. I treasure my relationships with co-workers, and with the great folks whose philanthropic investments help advance IEI, the Shelton Leadership Center, and NC State.