It is hard to believe, but it has been almost a year and a half since I was chosen for the Fellowship. I can say, without a doubt, my understanding of my own leadership journey has changed a lot through the Fellowship thus far. I have grown as a person and expanded my leadership journey. This year, I have met and had the opportunity to speak, network, and connect with so many incredible leaders in our region. I have been fortunate to connect and chat with a number of leaders in philanthropy, nonprofits, and the legal community whose leadership I admire greatly.
My perspective on leadership has also grown and evolved over the past year and a half. There were many times in my life when I thought leadership was something to reach and achieve. The more I am exposed to experiences and opportunities to grow as a leader, the more I come to realize that leadership is a journey and not a destination. If I have learned or have realized anything during my leadership journey in the fellowship this past year and a half, it is that leadership is a long journey. A long journey that does not necessarily have a destination but a purpose and goalpost. This journey and growth can have ups and downs. Sometimes, parts of this journey are fun, easy, and enjoyable. Other times, the journey is challenging and requires a lot of learning, patience, perseverance, and determination.
This year I have completed a number of incredible leadership programs as well as started a number of leadership roles. As I noted in my previous reflection, this year I completed the Humphrey Policy Fellowship and Leadership Twin Cities programs that were offered by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Public Policy School and the Minneapolis Regional Chambers, respectively. I was invited to join the Minneapolis Regional Chambers Emerging Leaders advisory board. This advisory board brings together a handful of past LTC graduates each year and these leaders guide in organizing the Chambers' leadership-related events throughout the year. I have also joined World Without Genocide’s board of directors.
The highlight of my fellowship journey and my leadership growth thus far also included receiving two awards this year. I received the Emerging Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts. The Emerging Alumni Award is one of CLA’s Outstanding Alumni Awards that highlight recent graduates who have been remarkable leaders and community service oriented. This award is given to only a few alumni each year who have made a significant contribution to their community and have shown real and tangible leadership growth in their own personal life. Receiving this award early in my leadership journey means a lot.
The other award I received this year was being named one of the 2022 Minnesota Lawyer’s Diversity and Inclusion Award receipts. This award recognizes leaders who are significantly advancing diversity, inclusion, and the dignity of all people in Minnesota’s legal profession and in communities in which exceptional legal work impacts justice for all. Receiving this award also meant a lot to me because the honorees were chosen by an independent panel based on their achievements and their commitment to the Minnesota diversity and inclusion community.
In my leadership journey, I have been reminded consistently of the importance of taking risks as part of growing and expanding my own comfort zone. I used to think engaging in leadership had to always result in tangible results. This line of thinking sometimes views leadership as a transactional activity with an end in mind. It views every action taken by a leader must lead to a predetermined result that can be touted as an achievement. Sometimes this is true, but it is not necessarily always the case. Sometimes leadership is learning and observing. And sometimes leadership is leading others by example. There is no single way to view or define leadership.
As my fellowship journey progressed, one thing became clear, the number and intensity of things I have been participating in or committed to participating in have exponentially increased. One of the biggest realizations I had early in the fellowship is the importance of slowing down and examining what is on my plate at any given time. Early on in my fellowship journey, I realized I often find myself gravitating towards always being busy and doing many things at the same time. Although I can quickly fill my plate with so many wonderful things I want to do, I am also actively and consciously attempting to slow down and commit to fewer and fewer things. As I progressed in my leadership journey through the fellowship, I have been intentional about the type of activities and things I commit to participating in. I have been able to graciously say no to many activities and invitations to join boards and participate in events. This realization allowed me to only focus my energy and time on things that allow me to grow and thrive as a leader. As one of my mentors suggested to me, before I commit myself to something new, I should step back and examine whether this is just another thing to keep me busy or something that will nourish and nurture my soul and my leadership growth.
One thing is clear though, I will continue to find ways to sustain my leadership journey. I will continue to listen to my intuition when I need to step back and recharge. Because this is a journey that expands across a lifetime, I will continue to learn, listen, and lead.