LLC hit the jackpot with our latest hire, Kyle Shimamoto who is joining our small but mighty team as the new Operations and Project Manager. Like many of us in the non-profit sector, Kyle has had a multifaceted and fascinating career. He spent more than 10 years as a Montessori educator and co-director before transitioning to project management work in a variety of industries. He also enjoys nonprofit governance and has served on the boards of a number of organizations. We will be tapping all of these experiences.
At LLC Kyle will ensure that our many internal pieces are operating smoothly while providing management and oversight to a number of simultaneous complex projects. Did I mention, that these many project include more than a dozen consultants sourced for the work from our network. When asked by our interview panel what he would like to bring to LLC , Kyle had this to say, “I hope to be able to use my skills at building and implementing systems to help increase the operational efficiency of LLC. In doing so, I believe we can greatly increase our organizational capacity. I believe very strongly in the work that LLC is doing and am thrilled to be in a position to help increase our capacity, reach and visibility!”
We were uniformly impressed with Kyle and had no doubt that he would be able to use his skills to accomplish all of his hopes for LLC. He has already jumped right in, designed new tools, appears to be unflappable and eager to learn. You know that you will enjoy Kyle when you have chances to connect, and you will because Kyle is our first point of contact with LLC.
A little more about Kyle, so you won’t feel like strangers when you meet, Kyle grew up in the South Bay (CA), but spent most of his life living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest in Tacoma, WA. He and his wife recently move back to CA and have settled into the East Bay where they are enjoying an increased exposure to sunlight.
As a true community builder, Kyle loves delicious food and drink, either at home or one of the many fabulous establishments the Bay Area has to offer. He also enjoys running on the trails near his house, crossword puzzles, science documentaries and tending to their chickens and cats. Please join us in welcoming Kyle!
LLC is thrilled to be introducing our newest board members. We would like extend a big welcome and thank you to Duchesne Drew and
Lisa Leverette. They will both contribute greatly to furthering the mission and work of LLC.
Meet Our Newest Board Members:
Duchesne Drew joined the LLC board in April 2018 and literally hit the ground running! Duchesne is the Community Network Vice President for the Bush Foundation in St. Paul, MN where he lives with his wife and two children.
His work at the foundation, integrating communications, innovation, leadership and networks, aligns strongly with LLC’s mission and work. In fact, he does all of this with an equity lens. Duchesne is also a veteran reporter, editor and manager, who before joining the Bush Foundation worked at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Dallas Morning News. We look forward to Duchesne’s contributions to our communications, so keep an eye out for his first blog post.
Since joining the board, Duchesne rolled up his sleeves and dove right into our recruitment process for both the Co-Director and our Operations and Project Manager positions where he was able to bring his years of management experience and wisdom to our process and hiring approach. Duchesne also helped to plan and facilitate the first board retreat he joined, to which he brought a strongly relational and equity centered approach. Under his leadership, along with board chair Uma Viswanathan and board member Kelly Hannum, we built strong relationships, got deep into equity, made big commitments to the work, and had fun!
Lisa Leverette describes herself as a Detroit based Change Orchestrator. She brings a relationship building and equity lens to everything she does: identifying and eliminating barriers to success, and managing and changing systems to improve conditions and opportunities for marginalized people. She manages Community Connections Grant Program, regranting funds and shifting power and resources to help grassroots groups who have been pushed to the furthest margins of society achieve transformational change.
Many of you may already know her because Lisa helped host Creating Space Detroit where she invited all of us to challenge our leadership assumptions and learn from non-traditional community leaders about community and systems change. True to her word she got us into the community, learning from people leading locally - yes she brought field trips to Creating Space. If you missed her at Creating Space, you might have attended one of Lisa’s webinars, and if you didn’t, it’s not too late to catch the recording for Leadership in Community on our site.
Already, Lisa has brought her laser focus on equity, asking the tough questions about how equity is in everything we do. When we first met Lisa in 2013, she kept asking if she could bring even more folks from Community Connections to Creating Space, we couldn’t say no to Lisa and in response she called herself “Lucky Lisa.” The name stuck because we are the ones who feel lucky to have her in this work with us and now on our board!
At a recent LLC board meeting, members were eagerly pitching ideas about how they could help.. Our newest member, Lisa Leverette, who in her own words is a Detroit based Change Orchestrator had a unique offer, “I want to help LLC figure out how to talk about stuff.” This sounds simple on the surface... but it’s actually quite deep. For the past couple of months, everytime I turn around, I have been running smack into the idea of how we talk about our work. At a retreat hosted by the Whitman Institute in October, “A Future We Can Trust,” we were facilitated in several sessions by Culture Strike that focused on tapping arts and creativity to shape a positive narrative. Not long after a valued colleague, Milano Harden, sent me an article by Marshall Ganz, “Public Narrative, Collective Action and Power” from 2011, that is resurfacing right now for a reason. And, a few weeks ago I was fortunate to attend Facing Race which was launched with a plenary session on narrative and arts among the culture wars. I am hooked. I have been thinking about this a lot, well kind of non-stop, and talking about it with anyone who will listen, so here were are.
In LLC’s 2015 publication, Leadership and Large Scale Change, when we talked about the kind of leadership that we believe is needed to advance social justice, the first thing we lifted up, based on lessons from Manuel Pastor’s work with the Building Healthy Communities sites, and especially the input of young people, was the importance of creating a frame that provides a way for people to make sense of their experience and unify around a common vision. We also gave a shout out to Sonia Ospina (another former board member) from the Wagner School of Leadership for her work on the importance of cognitive shifts that create a shared sense of interest.
These are not new ideas. Paulo Freire, the most influential person in my life, put forward these ideas in his seminal publication, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, fifty some years ago. For folks who have not read him, what he describes as popular education offers a lot of wisdom about what it means to cultivate leadership. There is no way to do justice to Paulo Freire, so I will start with the disclaimer that I will do my humble best to describe what resonates and is timeless about his work that I am returning to again. Freire talks about cultivating critical consciousness through the process of collective meaning making to unveil the nature of the system that creates and maintains elites and inequitable societies. He proposes a rigorous process of dialogue, pedagogy, grounded in an examination of individual and collective daily life, experiences of power relationships and the beliefs and fears that motivate behaviors. This co-creation of knowledge about reality reveals assumptions at the base of social systems and creates new awareness needed to transform these conditions in pursuit of justice and our full humanity. All pedagogy, according to Freire, is a call to action and freedom.
So what does this have to do with leadership development?
Collective meaning making or the banking system? Leadership programs can provide opportunities for participants to make meaning of their life experiences looking for patterns in order to unveil how our current system, creates and maintains elites and oppressed. This is the foundation for social justice action. Alternately, Freire criticizes the ‘banking method’ of education which treats students as empty accounts and passive repositories for the reality of the educator who ends up recreating the power dynamics of the current social systems. Understanding this continuum can be a useful lens for leadership development practitioners.
Who will lead liberation? Who understands most clearly based on daily life experiences, the assumptions and subtle workings of structural racism reinforced by a culture of white supremacy? It’s hard to disagree with Paulo Freire that people most directly oppressed by the system have an arsenal of experience from which to co-create deep knowledge and undeniable motivation for action. It is safe to say that people who have been marginalized are not the primary beneficiaries of leadership programs that could provide opportunities for learning and acting together. It raises a question of not only who is served by leadership programs but one of who is leading leadership development work. In my own personal case as a white woman, this is a significant part of why I think it’s time for LLC to promote new leadership.
Leadership for what? We have come a long way from the idea that leadership development should be for the purpose of making an individual a better leader, well, at least as the primary purpose of a leadership development program. In the evolution of thinking about this in the past decade, we talk more about leadership as a strategy that needs to be linked to on the ground results. I think it’s definitely a good thing that leadership programs want to address health inequities or increase access to healthy foods. The next stretch will be for us to address the root causes of these problems and talk more vividly about the future we are trying to create.
Developing the narrative about the world we are trying to create is both daunting and exciting, especially given the perils of the current narrative. It’s absolutely clear to me that this work is happening in all of the places I mentioned within a larger ecosystem. Facing Race is moving the conversation and calling out the conditions, culture, and policies that bolster White Supremacy. People in leadership development cannot play our role in a different future in isolation from these interrogations of our current reality happening in racial justice and social justice venues. I humbly recognized at both the Whitman Institute retreat and Facing Race the role of artists in helping with the cultural work of creating a narrative in which all of us who work for justice can see the world we are trying to create. I am so glad that we will have some help with this important work from our amazing new board member, Lisa Leverette, and I look forward to learning from and with all of you.
Wow, I didn’t even get to the Marshall Ganz piece but who wants to follow Paulo Freire, so I am saving that for next time.
participants talked about how the language and concepts were giving her a new lens for understanding the work she was already doing. She blogged about their work and talked about what network leadership looks like in practice and what they are accomplishing. I enjoyed reading about the work and learning from Bettina. I think you will too.
Bettina Byrd-Giles is the CEO for The Bethesda Life Center, Inc., a non-profit health clinic that promotes health access to medically under-served populations. Her expertise includes cultural competence, intercultural communication and health disparities. She has been a consultant for medical research projects to recruit and retain study participants from different cultures. Ms. Byrd-Giles is a Culture of Health Leader, a program committed to eliminating health disparities and building an equitable playing field for patients from all cultures and backgrounds.
I was at the closing session at the International Leadership Association (ILA) when the speaker who took the stage told us she had just heard there had been a mass shooting. Phones lit up as together we all learned the horrifying news that 11 people had been killed at the Tree of Life Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh. We stood in stunned silence honoring the lives of those who had died, and as an expression of deep sympathy for their families and neighbors, and for all of those reliving the loss of hate killings in their communities. I speak for all of us at LLC in expressing our love and support to the familes of those lost in Pittsburgh, the synagogue and the city, and to the families of Maurice Stallard and Vicki Jones, two African American who were killed by a white man in Kentuck who first attempted to barge into a Black Church.
I was filled with sadness, outrage, and overwhelmed by the tidal wave of attacks on people of color, immigrants, religious minorities, women, and LGBTQIA communities occuring against a back drop of hateful language that incites and condones these actions. I am fired up with anger about everything I am against. Over the last couple of day, I have been reflecting about what it means to be in a perpetual fighting posture defined by what I am against. Clearly I am against hate, and I don’t want the haters to be the ones defining where my energy is going, to the extent that I am losing touch what it means to be for love.
So I have been thinking about love and how to rekindle it as a centering force alongside the other emotions, and as one that keeps me connected to my values. There was a session at ILA that started with the title “Wild Love.” Although I was in a different session, I heard stories about this session, and as I understand it through others telling, one panelist talked about being in Afghanastan in the military on one of the most dangerous jobs there was, driving the tanks designed to detonate landmines. His trainer told him the thing that would keep hiim and his crew safe was love. After all of the technical training, he was shocked that this was the thing that mattered most and he set out to create love, taking time to learn each others stories and invest in relationships. Out of caring, they checked and doubled checked each other’s gear and kept each other safe. What struck me most about this story is that I tend to think of love as a personal value to bring to leadership (and no doubt it is), and that it is not just personal work.
When we talk about the inner work of leadership, it is often my inclination to think of it as individual work. And yet the attack on the synagogue reminded me that we do have a tradition of healing and nurturing love as collective work and in community. It’s not suprising that churches and other places of worship where this collective work is nurtured have been targets of hate groups. We can cultivate love as a collective endeavor in our places of worship, neighborhoods, and yes, leadership programs. I have always said we are stronger and smarter together. I also believe we can be more loving together, and in times like this I am finding the need to be in this kind of relationship with others. Ironically, I missed the Wild Love session because I was in a session on how we measure the progress and contributions of leadership programs. While we had good conversations about seeing concrete results, the past few days have reminded me that we will not make progress without hope and love, the intagibles that may be an even better predictor of our path and progress towards justice.
It would be great to hear from leadership programs about how you foster love as a leadership value, and how you value love (and observe it) as a critical part of you leadership development work.
We have received applications from a number of exciting candidates. We have interviewed people who are still of interest to us, and are keeping the position open a bit longer to meet additional candidates. We are learning as we go, and have a great team of folks from the LLC board and network who are actively engaging alongside us in this learning. Here are some of our early lessons:
We are a relationale network and that goes for recruitment too: I was in a hurry to recruit a co-director because we were holding off on hiring a FT Operations and Program Manager after Miriam left so that the new person could be involved. We also were holding off on board recruitment for the same reason. This was creating a sense of urgency about an important decision for LLC. We need to create time to get to know potential candidates, and for them to get to know us. This will require more than two interviews. Getting to know more candidates is an important process for understanding what will contribute most to the future we hope to see. So, we are slowing it down so that we can engage with more people, and talk more with interested candidates.
Paying attention to equity: There are a number of ways we are seeing opportunities to bring an equity lens to our process. We noticed that there was a trend among exciting candidates who had a strong equity history and practice, and aligned leadership values. They often were not as strong in some of the managerial areas, e.g. fund development, financial management, board development, hiring/supervision. We are looking at this as a lack of opportunity (not ability) in leadership spaces and organizations where white people have been overrepresented in management positions where these skills are acquired. As we learn, we are looking into creating an equity fund that would provide intensive training in management areas for candidates who have not had experiential learning opportunities.
Emergent Learning: Our learning has been enriched by tapping members of the network and board. In addition, we have tapped best practices (shout out to Connor Daley from Citizen Talent for lending his time) and we recognize that we are charting some new territory. We are building reflection into our process to grow it as we go, and this also takes time. We are committed to this model and sharing what we learn with you, so stay tuned.
I have had this fantasy since I learned about the Transforming White Privilege curriculum. I am a huge fan of the work of Shakti Butler, Sally Leiderman and Maggie Potapchuk who developed the film based curriculum that brings an explicit focus on white privilege to racial equity trainings. I am excited that we will have designers of the curriculum themselves offering an intensive “Train the trainers” program in the Bay Area.
If you are involved in leadership development and or racial equity training this is an opportunity to learn how to deliver, adapt and incorporate this curriculum into your work. The training costs are being augmented with funding so it’s an unbelievable deal and resource for leadership development providers. I plan to attend and hope to see others engaged in supporting leadership also participate. We might even be able to form a Cop, Community of Practice after the training.