Dottie Reese has devoted her life to fighting for equality in every aspect of life, from the professional to the personal.

Not long after Reese relocated from Los Angeles to New Orleans to join her husband, a Crescent City native, she received a master’s in public health and a master’s in social work from Tulane University. Taking those skills, Reese spent the next 20 years in different leadership capacities at Methodist Hospital, starting the hospital’s Office of Diversity and creating a system-wide diversity initiative focused on educating the workforce on cultural competencies in healthcare.

While at Methodist, Reese would frequently fly to New York to attend Cornell University’s Executive Diversity Management program. She was later asked to join the faculty, continuing her East Coast jaunts to offer instruction to corporate executives.

“Then Katrina hit, and that really changed the landscape,” Reese says.

Like many New Orleanians, Reese took the opportunity to make a change. Together with Margaret Montgomery-Richard, the two women formed their own organizational development and project management firm, DMM & Associates LLC.

Just prior to starting her firm, Reese became involved with the Urban League of Greater New Orleans (ULGNO), a group committed to developing equality and parity in business, the economy and education for African-Americans and other minorities. She currently serves as the chairman of the board.

“We’re a board driven organization of about 25 members from a cross section of industries,” she says, adding that the ULGNO recently participated in an expo at the Superdome earlier this year to help parents learn more about the new One App school admissions program and provide information on common core.

Reese also serves on the board of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce and is a past member of the LSU Board of Supervisors. Included among her long list of awards are: the New Orleans Medical Association’s Excellence in Heathcare award, the Dorothy Schenthal Leadership Award from the New Orleans Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Grace House’s Women of Substance award New Orleans Jack and Jill of America Leadership and Community Service award, and the WEISS Award from the New Orleans Council on Community and Justice.

“I believe everyone can make a difference,” she says. “There are contributions every individual can make that will improve the quality of life for everyone.”

mentor: I’ve been fortunate to have many, including Mrs. Dolores Aaron, Loyce Pierce Wright, Lee Frazier and Elizabeth Rayne. All were excellent role models in terms of providing guidance and wise counsel relative to my career development as well as my personal growth.

defining moment: I’d have to say when I had the opportunity to serve on the LSU Board of Supervisors. I wanted to be of service there and saw the things I’d be able to do for the university and people of Louisiana. At that time I also decided to leave healthcare full time and start my own business in 2005.

advice for young women: If you absolutely believe in yourself and your dream, stick with it. It’s about hard work, networking and recognizing that you need to be open to wise counsel that will come your way.

goals: I’d like to further develop our consulting firm. We’re unique in that we’re a women-owned company run by two African-American women. We’ve grown tremendously, but I’d like to grow larger and expand our clientele base.

favorite thing about what I do: Mentoring young women. I really enjoy when I have an opportunity to spend some time with young women seeking advice about their personal growth or professional development.