Don’s life and career path are paved with proven indicators of demonstrated commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Read about Don’s fascinating trajectory from UCLA National Champion speaker to award-winning Storyteller. Hear about his long held 1,000 episode position at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to his real-life stories of diversity being utilized in graduate writing programs by a Guggenheim fellow.

Don Reed (NPR Storyteller/Co-Headed NBC Advertising & Promotion Voice Over/Radio Division)  is a multi-hyphenate with a career that spans television, stage, and network advertising & promotion. But the fundamental building block of all his successes is that Don… tells stories.


NPR’s Glynn Washington has deemed him a “master storyteller” with the Mercury News referring to him as “… a solo powerhouse.” He is New York Times, New Yorker, San Francisco Chronicle approved with 5 Award Winning one man storytelling shows to his credit – NAACP Award Double Nominee – “East 14th being the flagship production. Don has shared a number of hilarious and heartbreaking stories on the NPR hit broadcast Snap Judgment – aired in over 400 cities across the country and downloaded over 2 million times a month. He has traveled extensively with their national tour, performing for thousands and in 2016 was honored with NPR Snap Judgment Storyteller of the Year for his groundbreaking story “I Miss Toni.” It garnered hundreds of thousands of views and has been utilized as an educational tool from high schools to American University’s Master of Fine Arts Graduate Writing Program in D.C. — as a warmly humorous, deeply dramatic look at supporting and loving a trans family member. 


Don first began speaking in Intercollegiate Speech & Debate competition, while a student at UCLA, eventually becoming the overall National Champion for Speech to Entertain. Don, already an accomplished speaker, began performing stand up in clubs then on HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central, CBS, and more. On the NACA collegiate circuit, he performed standup and motivational speeches to over 300 colleges and universities, to diverse audiences. Reed continues to connect with youth, through equity speaker series and Black History Month campus events. His corporate speaking/performance events include American Accountants Association, Western Digital, Miller Brewing Company, Creative Mornings, Pac Bell, UCLA Medical Center, 100 Black Men, Transgender Law Center, and many more.

Tonight Show



After a run Off-Broadway with one of his one-man storytelling shows, Don captured the attention of the executive producers of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” After an exhaustive search – they chose him to perform stand up for the live studio audience daily as the warm-up comedian for over 1,000 episodes. The ongoing process of telling stories there was how Don further perfected his craft .

Don had always utilized a range of voices beginning with narrating books unavailable in Braille for the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. Later this versatility impacted his standup, so the transition into voice-over (Spiderman, Flintstones, 2 Broke Girls, Network Promos) was natural. He began to write V.O. promos as well.  Knowing a trailer is simply a short story to sell a larger story, Don delivered creative and rose to Co-Head the Voice Over/Radio Division for NBC Advertising & Promotion. Initially brought in as a designated hitter on African American themed content – he began to write, direct, and produce advertising for a wildly diverse array of NBC programming (including Will & Grace, Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, The Tonight Show, Friends, Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, The Voice, NBC Nightly News, Dateline, The Golden Globes, The Olympics). The fascinating story between Don’s bond with voice over and how it impacted his views on D&I is revealed in this keynote presentation.


While at NBC he became a PROMAX Award Winner and later founded his own advertising & promotion entity – an entertainment copywriting company that has serviced movie trailers, promos and games for many Fortune 500 network companies and vendors. This work included achieving the position of Head Writer of over 35 spots for NBC Universal’s acclaimed, Emmy Award-Winning PSA initiativeThe More You Know – focused on Diversity and Anti-Prejudice. Later expanded into Health, Education, the Environment and more. 

Don has been the secret weapon of many a vendor supplying copywriting and promo concepts for Sony, Disney+, ABC, FOX, TBS, FX, MLB, NFL, Bravo, “The Simpsons”, X-Box, PlayStation, “Ultimate Spiderman”, “Shrek SuperSlam”, “Call of Duty” “Halo” and many more). The dynamics experienced working with these corporate entities fuel some of the stories in this DEI presentation.



With over 20 years of experience in the world of storytelling –  tales of diversity and inclusion have been the overarching thread throughout Don Reed’s multi-faceted career. From public speaking to stand-up comedy to advertising for film and television to his solo shows  – Stories of cultural diversity and gender inclusivity are at the heart of it all. In addition, Don has attended and participated in JEDI Discussion Series Training (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion). He is on the Board of Directors of both Elevate Oakland – a non-profit that brings culturally vibrant art, music, and speakers to Oakland’s public schools – and Shotgun Players – a theater company determined to create bold theatre that inspires, challenges and impacts EDI for both artist and audience within the community.  

Awards, Nominations & certifications

Stanford University – Unconscious Bias in Medicine Certification

JEDI – Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Discussion Series Training

2016 NPR Storyteller of the Year – Snap Judgment
2016 TBA: Theater Bay Area – Award WINNER – Outstanding Solo Production|
2017 TBA: Theater Bay Area – Nominee – Outstanding Solo Production
2018 TBA: Theater Bay Area Nominee – Outstanding Solo Production
3 Time NAACP Theater Award Nominee
Hosted The Moth – San Francisco 3 Times 
3 Time Intercollegiate National Champion
3 Time Theater Bay Area Award Nominee 
PROMAX Award Winner – with Vince Manze 30 Second Laugh
2013 CBS Best One Person Shows in the San Francisco Bay Area
2008 AUDELCO Award Nominee – Excellence in Black Theatre – The VIV Awards