Deeneaus “D” Polk graduated from Harvard Kennedy School in 2020 with a Master’s in Public Policy. Prior to HKS, Deeneaus served as the Director of the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program (MAP), where he worked to expand the amount and type of Registered Apprenticeship Programs in the state. MAP is a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor and Mississippi Community College Board and since being founded in 2017 has created more than 1000 apprentices and worked with over 100 Mississippi companies in exploring apprenticeship. This role was directly connected to research he undertook as a German Chancellor Fellow, where he explored the German vocational education training system and found best practices that fit within the Mississippi context. Deeneaus has also served as a Policy Analyst with the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, where he concentrated on education and workforce development.
As a Cheng Fellow, D worked to create 3LEVATE, a talent development solution that seeks to create a more diverse and equitable workforce of the future. He worked with business and industry to bridge the skills gap and illuminate viable education pathways for people of color and women. He utilized the power of apprenticeship, while also working to develop more direct career interventions. His work is centered around uplifting communities such as his home, Pascagoula, Mississippi, a blue-collar town with hard-working folks who want more from life. D is a proud Gulf Coast native, and graduate of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and the University of Mississippi.