Nov 2017

Meet the LGBTQ MBA Fellows: Kevin Deese

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The Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship is a scholarship and leadership development program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and active ally MBAs in full-time programs. Each Fellows receives at least $10,000 funding per academic year (or $20,000 total for his/her/their two years) in addition free access to all Reaching Out programming (including the ROMBA Conference), LGBTQ mentors, digital programming, and a leadership summit exclusively for the Fellows.  Since the inception of the ROMBA Fellowship 129 students have received over US$6.2M in scholarship support from participating schools.

This fall Reaching Out welcomed the third class of the ROMBA Fellows. These 56 fellows come from 35 top business schools and over the next month we’ll introduce each of them to you.

41 MBA programs will be part of the Fellowship for the 2017-2018 application cycle. To learn about the Fellowship and let schools know of your interest here.


Born and raised near Orlando, Florida, Kevin Deese graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2014. When his naval career was cut short for medical reasons, he began his search for a new calling with Amazon in August 2014 as an Area Manager at a fulfillment center in Charleston, South Carolina. As the on-the-floor leader of a $1.5 million daily production shift, he was responsible for all areas of productivity, quality, and safety. In November 2015, he began in an entry-level position at a boutique consulting firm in Charleston focusing on cost reduction, working his way up to reporting directly to the CEO as Strategy and Planning Manager. In this role, he designed and drove to fruition projects mainly focused on increasing the efficiency of internal operations.  In August 2017, Kevin began pursuing an MBA at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis. Kevin is passionate about making a positive impact in the world and in his community, and will be eager to bring this passion into the next chapter of his professional life. In his spare time, Kevin continues to find his way back to the stage with any chance he gets, having grown up performing in school and community theatre. His other pastimes include cheering on the Buffalo Bills and Navy sports teams, reading up on the latest national political news, and exercising in the gym.

What made you consider business school?
After varied post-undergraduate work experience in the private sector, I was looking to dramatically expand my professional horizons. In each role I held, I constantly felt a lack of the sense of service to a higher purpose that I experienced in the Navy.  I landed on business school as the best way to open myself up to a wide variety of career paths in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors that will provide me with opportunities to start truly making a difference in the world.

What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?
I am excited for the chances I’ll have, both through Reaching Out and Carlson, to meet business leaders and learn from their experiences. I will want to pick their brains on how they’ve been able to make a positive impact on the world through their work. I am also looking forward to meeting like-minded peers at both Carlson and Reaching Out to build a network and bounce ideas off of for how we can make our mark. Finally, I’m excited to start making a difference in the Twin Cities while I’m at Carlson, from volunteering in the community to taking on student leadership opportunities.

Who are some of the leaders (in the LGBTQ community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?
Joe Biden – a man who, to me, epitomizes the ideal of the public servant. Bill Gates – the richest person in the world is also one of its most prolific philanthropists. Pope Francis – a man who embodies humility and gives me hope as a gay Catholic. Laverne Cox – a fearless pioneer and needed symbol of trans visibility.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
I love music, and I am always singing!  From the shower, to the car, to the stage, to karaoke, to leading the “Shout” song after touchdowns at the Buffalo Bills Backers bar, I love to sing.  Sorry ’bout it!

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