Derrick Love is the newest member of the Byrd Barr Place board of directors. He is excited to bring fresh eyes to the work, and to use data and history to tell narratives and set direction.

In this interview, Derrick shares his upbringing, his love for community, and the inspiration behind his desire to serve.

Derrick with his wife Tanise and their dog Malcolm on Christmas in Seattle.

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and where you grew up?

I’m currently a cybersecurity professional at Microsoft, and have been doing this work for about 17 years. I have been married to my wife Tanise for eight happy years. We have a six-year-old border collie black lab mix named Malcolm.

I was a “military brat.” I was born in Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but my family moved often as I grew up. I’ve lived in Georgia, Washington D.C., and even lived in Korea for two years before moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, for high school and college. I moved to the Capital Hill area of Seattle two years ago during the pandemic, and immediately knew I wanted to find a way to serve the community.

I have always been community oriented; it’s a core tenant of who I am. I was raised to understand that I am privileged and fortunate, no matter the circumstances and to always express gratitude and give back. I even met my wife volunteering!

Derrick and Tanise at their Sync Seattle Rooftop candle-making event.

Q: How did you become connected to Byrd Barr Place?

As a couple, my wife and I are really big on serving the community, and our friends and family know this about us. We had a friend who knew we were moving to Seattle and who was connected with a cousin of Byrd Barr Place CEO Andrea Caupain Sanderson (small world!). They suggested Byrd Barr Place as a nonprofit that would be a great fit for us.

My first interaction with Byrd Barr Place was when I led a giving campaign for the organization at work. I chose Byrd Bar Place as the nonprofit I wanted to support, and was able to use this as an opportunity to educate some people on the effects of poverty.

I also started an initiative called Sync Seattle where we highlight Black businesses and Black-led nonprofits. We highlighted Byrd Barr Place and put out a call to action for people to donate nonperishable foods for The Market and were able to gather 300 items.

Q: What drew you to serve on the board and what are you most excited about?

I love the mission of Byrd Barr Place and the impact it has on the community, not only in terms of direct service, but also in terms of advocacy.

I love that it’s a Black-led organization with deep roots in Seattle’s Black community. I couldn’t think of a better way to serve the community than to join the board and to help set strategy and direction for the near future.

I’m most excited about learning more and more about this organization and the community we serve. When you’re doing something like this you want to understand the history. So I’m excited to use data and history to understand where we have been and where we are going — organically and naturally, as well as intentionally.

Derrick and Tanise after their Byrd Barr Place construction site tour. “We were really excited to see the final outcome of all of the hard work.”

Q: What are your impressions of the newly renovated building? What adjectives come to mind?

The new building evokes a lot of different emotions, I’d say the adjectives that come to mind are “inviting, warm and powerful.” I’ve never seen a facility that provides services to those in need in which so much care was taken in the design of the building to make sure it was a welcoming environment.

I’ve done a lot of volunteering in facilities that have the same cold office, wait in line, bureaucratic feel. Byrd Barr Place doesn’t have that, it has a warm and inviting feel to it. I felt it immediately when I took a tour during the construction process, and that feeling was amplified once I saw the finished building.

Q: Byrd Barr Place’s mission is to create an equitable future for all Washingtonians. What does an equitable future look like to you?

We all want the same things individually; everyone wants opportunity, safety and to be able to care for their loved ones. That can look different for everybody, and sometimes one person’s definition can impede another person’s.

An equitable future looks like one where we understand the systemic conflicts that prevent or impede the ability to achieve the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that reside in the founding documents of our nation. That can be uncomfortable at times. It can look radical.

Having an equitable future is going to have to be an intentional effort on the part of all Washingtonians to lean into the discomfort and to lean into stepping outside of our comfort

Q: Do you have a mantra or quote you live by?

I have two mantras that are sitting above my desk. The first one is, “Lord make me the person my dog thinks I am.”

The second is, “If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.”

In joining this board I know I bring a lot of experience and value, but there is also a lot of learning I’m excited to do. The more you learn, the more unstoppable and effective you become.

Q: What gives you hope?

Every single breath I take gives me hope. I have the ability to impact and affect my surroundings as long as I have breath in my body. Every moment you have breath in you, there is a purpose behind it.