Finding out I was awarded the Bush fellowship left me stunned, humbled, hopeful and terrified. I set out on my leadership journey taking my deep intuition, my insatiable curiosity, my courage and tenacity with me. I planned, I plotted. Then COVID19 made clear; our systems, our country, our world is broken. It felt personal, it felt debilitating, it changed me. I am a leader who refused to work from the dominant values that permeate bureaucracy with such things as speed, greed, fear and aggression. Paradoxically, I know things can be better, that the current system does not have to be this way. A sense that more is possible continually propels me to develop my leadership from the inside out. Easier said than done. My growth comes in quiet moments, the space between words, the unplanning, the deconstructing, the realness. I am continually surprised at the complexity of my development both professionally and personally.
I know that lasting change doesn’t start from the top of a system, but from deep inside, when people step forward to solve a problem, to reimagine. I am surprised by my willingness to become a “walk out” to bravely leave behind situations, jobs, relationships that restrict or confine growth. I am willing to walk on to the ideas, people, and practices that enable me to explore and discover new gifts, new possibilities, deep understanding and compassion for myself, my community, my world. I have tempered my academic learning with heavy doses of immersive experiences. I continue to build sustainable self care practices that include: meditation, writing, hiking, reading, bodysurfing, farming and adventuring. I am doing graduate work in sustainable systems and global policy. I am writing a sustainable systems funding policy proposal and I am building my leadership from the inside out.
Our regional food system vision continues to evolve. We are working both locally and globally to connect funding, equitable access, ideas, policy, systems and environmental changes to expand climate conscious farming. My leadership with the Women’s Environmental Institute is helping me imagine regenerative food systems of scale banded across the U.S. Emergency- to-market rate.
Production that protects the environment, while providing nutrient dense food to all people. With the VeggieRX expansion, 7 clinics now provide locally grown organic foods to community members experiencing food insecurity.
My resilience is continually tested. With this precious journey and the nurturing Bush Fellowship team it feels ungrateful to struggle, to question, to suffer. I am learning to let my father die. I am loving him, sitting with him, accepting him, forgiving him and myself. Yet, there are also stunning moments-honest, messy, breathtaking moments. A paradoxical mosaic from the inside out. It is a slow process to grow into an authentic leader. It is a necessary process, not for the faint of heart. I am growing every day.
Working with my coach Tania Katan has been a game changer, she continually nudges me to accept joy, creativity, humor and innovation as my own. She also is helping me practice radical self acceptance, to slow down, to have balance. It’s a work in progress. I am admittedly a recovering workaholic. Creating space, understanding and whimsy continues to expand and I have learned to make protected time a priority.
I feel like this past year was a deep dive into transcending polarities with fierce honesty- on- a clear eyed quest for healing and regeneration. I am learning to dance with duality so I can claim my wholeness. I have unconscious biases about leadership and action that make genuine, un-hierarchical cooperation challenging. I continue my hard work to overcome these inherited biases and embrace attunement, relational awareness, intuition and listening to forge new healthier and balanced forms of leadership. Wholehearted leadership. I am immersed in an experiential journey into regenerative, heart-centered leadership. I am finding radical new paths to wholeness.
When I began my leadership journey, I acknowledged that leaders often face “crucibles” in their lives-issues that challenge their very will. My own backstory is marked by pain, reflection and rebirth. While the crucible had the power to diminish my ability to prevent me from living fully. When my world fell apart, I was brave enough to get up, get out and grow. I am growing every day.