I am so glad to have the fellowship framed in terms of a journey. What I would say to a new fellow is buckle up! It is amazing to me how much I have changed in the last six plus months. I say six plus because the journey began before I was selected as a 2018 Bush Fellow. This seems like the hardest reflection I have had to write. The other day someone said to me “you have been reluctant to move forward because you think you have to walk through fire. The reality is you are walking out of the fire. Keep going!” I have been struggling with writing my learning log because I feel like I am in the fire and all I can think it “damn, it’s hot here!” That said, what I would tell a new fellow is that “they” say, “when you are walking through hell, don’t stop- keep walking!”. This journey I am on with the Bush Fellwoship is definitely the road less traveled.
I can't believe it ahs been over a year since I embarked on this journey. It is a good time to reflect on my learning goals and the progress I have made to date on them.
Learning Goal 1: To develop my leadership skills and knowledge through executive education programs and conference attendance.
So far I have attended several conferences including the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) Conference and Annual Conference for the Minnesota Council on Non-profits (MCN). I received a fellowship through OFN's Opportunity Fellows Program. The goal of the fellowship was learning to bring a race/equity lens to the work we are doing as a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI). The industry is not very diverse especially at the CEO level. The most powerful learning portion of the fellowship was work we did with the Race Matters Institute. However, the networking with other fellows and learning more about the race equity agenda each organization was engaged in was just if not even more valuable in terms of my leadership development. I am an introvert and while I enjoy people, I really don't like networking events where I don't know people and I have to engage in small talk. Going through the fellowship program with my cohort ahs transformed my relationship to OFN. I went into the conference networking reception with a crew of people I had gotten close with over the past 6 months. It gave me a comfort and confidence I didn't know I was missing.
Additionally, as part of the fellowship I was part of a four person group project examining strategies to effectively recruit and retain diverse staff to the CDFI industry. The MCN conference was also very different for me this year. It was a year ago at this time that I was running for the MCN board of directors. I was well out of my comfort zone running for the board. I am now on the board and the inclusion and equity committee of MCN. I feel like a different person and part of the crew that is going to transform both the CFDI and non-profit industries. I look forward to the formal training I will receive in my executive education programs at Stanford and Oxford.
Learning Goal 2: Increase my IDI Developmental Orientation score from 129-135. My plan was to take at least three trips to explore and understand my heritage. the purpose of these trips is to help me understand how my cultural background influences my core beliefs and values. So far I have taken one of these trips in July to Sweden. It was my first time off continent. I am still processing the impact that it had being in Europe. I now have the opportunity to go to Spain in March of this year and look forward to being in a place to see how these trips change me and my perspective as a US citizen and what it means to be a citizen of the world.
Learning Goal 3: Enhance my leadership skills by focusing on self-care and by working to identify, examine and dismantle the mental models that inhibit my leadership development. My regular practice of yoga is an oasis for me in terms of taking time to slow down and breath and focus on myself. Originally, I thought I would complete yoga teacher training. I am now rethinking this as it seems like an intensive process to layer on to an already full life but will remain open to opportunities to strengthen my yoga practice. So far I have completed one counseling intensives to help me with this process. I am noticing I am getting a clearer picture of myself as a leader and the impact that I have in whatever I engage in. My involvement tends to make things go better. Knowing this is pushing me to think strategically about he projects and people that I do invest in. I can not stress enough how much the process of applying and being selected as a fellow have changed my life. As painful as growing pains are, I am grateful every day for the fellowship and the opportunity to grow. In October, I had a landmark birthday, I turned 50. I am excited about the next 50 years of my life. The sky is the limit.