In 2020, a global pandemic prompted me to reconsider my place in my community. I decided to submit an application that fall to become a Bush Fellow. As I answered questions, I allowed myself to be sincere about what was on my mind and what I wanted to achieve as a leader.
My grandson was born on January 29, 2020. I experienced precious few moments with him before Covid began blanketing the country and globe. My son and his family were vigilant about staying safe during the Covid frenzy. We all abided by local, state, and global health guidelines that called for limited-to-zero visitation with our loved ones outside our households.
After much reflection about my life, family, and personal leadership goals, I completed my fellowship application. In 2021, I was elated to receive word – it seemed like forever -- that I had been selected as a Bush Fellow. The foundation leaders gave us our first task, which was to refine a leadership plan. It was a challenge because there are actually a lot of ways to enhance one’s leadership skills.
Nonetheless, the process was intense, but it felt right. It struck me that I had never put so much time into making a growth plan for myself. I, undoubtedly, have spent a lot more time trying to develop the nonprofit media organization I founded. It was a rewarding lesson to do something for myself.
Since then, I’ve taken the first steps to fulfill the goals set forth in my personal development plan. This includes self-care, community inclusion, and enhanced storytelling. I’ve largely worked as a print journalist throughout my career. I’ve typically had one basic job as a reporter and that was to write stories and work for someone else. As an employee in corporate media, there’s not a lot of emphasis on leadership and self-growth.
It was a big step for me to quit daily news reporting and to create a news organization in a rural area. I greatly appreciate the Bush Fellowship emphasis on allowing me to create a unique plan, unique to me.
I chose to do my fellowship during the course of two years, ending in mid-2023. I’ve begun my plan by first addressing self-care. When I am at my best, I can do my best. I’ve been able to take care of myself through alternative healing methods with great success.
The fellowship has also helped me on the ceremonial path. In order to make a difference in my community, I understand the importance of staying grounded. I am doing my part to set the course for generational healing and encourage others to be their best.
Part of my leadership plan is to lead through storytelling. My community deserves to be heard and they deserve to be informed. In the past, my tools were simple. I could do my job as a journalist with a simple pen and paper. Fellowship funding is allowing me to expand my media skills in ways I might not have tried. I am set to take courses on how to be a better community storyteller through documentary filmmaking. I am also expanding my storytelling skills with video and podcasting equipment purchases. My fellowship is giving me the space to think bigger and providing the finances to explore new ways of communication.
This was one of the most difficult portions of the leadership plan. There are a lot of schools and organizations that offer media and leadership courses. My advice is to do your homework, seek advice from others and then choose a program or course.
Covid has made me keenly aware of the changing landscape locally, regionally, and globally. It’s up to new, emerging, and experienced leaders to adjust to community needs. The Bush Fellowship has allowed me to create a roadmap to think and act in new ways.
I am open to changes and expect continued growth throughout my fellowship. It’s great to be in a place in life where I am happy on my path and gratified with my choices. To me, joy lies in being true to myself. Bliss also means staying steadfast to my vision that seeks to build an informed community.