Staff spotlight: Cassie Bingham

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Utah Valley University has many outstanding women that work hard to support the community, notable among them is Cassie Bingham, the program director for the Center for Social Impact. She works on a variety of local projects and shares valuable lessons to educate others on the virtues and execution of social impact.

“My career has been semi-unconventional,” began Bingham. “But every job I’ve fulfilled has had social impact at its core.”

In her bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, Bingham studied sociocultural anthropology and international development and is now completing a master’s degree in sociology from Arizona State University. She said this background allowed her to start thinking about social change and community improvement through a human-centered lens. 

After graduation, Bingham had the opportunity to work with a nonprofit on the west side of Salt Lake City. This organization provided educational resources to immigrant families, predominantly Hispanic and Latinx. 

“I learned both about the importance of being informed by lived experience as I worked as a family advocate,” said Bingham. “And about the larger systems that influence how we go about social impact work as I worked on the development team in strategizing around philanthropy.”

Bingham took leave during summers to lead humanitarian trips engaging in collaborative community development in East Africa, as well as relief aid in the Moria Refugee Camp. She went on to work for a social enterprise that developed strategies for ethical tourism and helped establish access to Western markets for an artisan collective of Ugandan women. After these experiences, Bingham landed her current job at UVU’s Center for Social Impact, her “favorite” position so far, where she considers herself a social impact strategist and educator.

When asked about her experience as a woman in leadership roles at UVU, Bingham said that her identity as a woman, similar to her identity as a Black and queer individual, may influence how she is perceived. However, she tries day after day to allow herself to be authentic, and free from social constructions of expectations around identity. 

“Luckily at UVU I have an incredible boss and co-workers who take a similar stance and, therefore, not only do I feel empowered as a woman, but also as just a regular, flawed human being to bring my whole self to the table and trust that I can work in a safe environment that allows me to express my thoughts, ideas, and opinions,” expressed Bingham. “I feel very fortunate that the Center for Social Impact provides a space like that, as I know this is not necessarily the case for women in every space, including on UVU campus.” 

Individuals who do not identify as cis-gendered men may feel intimidated by the work landscape to to find a safe work environment that promotes autonomy and success, or even leadership role potential, noted Bingham. She acknowledged that not everyone has the privilege to pick and choose a workplace, or how to present themselves and communicate in a workplace. This creates the need to dismantle systems that cause desperation in job searches, potentially leading to unsafe work environments. 

However, Bingham says that if one has the privilege of choice, then some of her best advice would be to communicate expectations for workplace culture as early as the interviewers often allow time for questions at the end. Waiting for the interviewers to permit time for questions presents the opportunity to ask about equity and inclusion policies, evaluation of promotions, or even why their administrative team appears to lack diversity. 

“This will help you go in with the confidence needed to unapologetically advocate for yourself and show that you won’t tolerate discrimination,” explained Bingham. “It will also give you the opportunity to see how a company might respond, and if their culture is in alignment with your wants and needs.”

Bingham’s journey demonstrates that it is possible to make an impact on society for the better, even if the odds seem to be stacked against you. She exemplifies exceptional care in her service and is a powerful example of how diverse perspectives and persistence can transform workplace culture and community. Her journey demonstrates that folks from myriad backgrounds with marginalized identities can find success and be impactful leaders.