What a journey this has been. I say this with endless enthusiasm. The last two years have been invaluable. I have deepened my relationship with a seasoned leadership coach. I transitioned from the public sector back to the nonprofit sector. I find deep value in both spheres and am grateful to have served and continue to serve in both the private and nonprofit sectors. Witnessing the murder of Geroge Floyd and many others due to a violent police apparatus continues to plague black and brown bodies and communities. Violence and fear can be exhausting and can have adverse effects on our immune health. Low immunity is not helpful when trying to stay healthy in a public health crisis. I have witnessed an immense amount of fear regarding COVID-19 and state policing via the media apparatus and my community. As a mental health practitioner, I am intentional about the emotional, spiritual, and physical health of those around me and the community at large. Holistic wellness is a daily practice of intention and mindfulness. I hope that we all find wellness in our day-to-day practices individually and collectively.
My goal for the Bush Fellowship has been to obtain formal leadership training to complement my innate and developing leadership skills. I have enhanced and expanded my leadership by completing my core coursework at Hamline University over the last two years. I am not done just yet, but I am well on my way. The doctoral program in Management and Public Service is a cross-sector program that has prepared me to navigate private, public, and nonprofit spaces. In addition, to gaining a set of skills that I’ve been able to apply to practice immediately, the last two years have positioned me well to conduct research on the areas I’m most passionate about, the issues that impact my community, and the issues that continue to be overlooked by leaders who only know the issues from second-hand information. I start my dissertation in just a couple of short months. It’s hard to believe that in under two years, I would have completed my program and officially become a doctor of philosophy, something that only around 2% of the population has achieved. This title will open doors and afford me a seat at “tables” I otherwise would not have been able to sit at. Even with a Ph.D., I wonder if black women will get to a place where they don’t have to prove that they are worthy of being at the “table.”
I started this fellowship when I was having a very challenging time navigating state government. The support and forum that came as a result of the Bush fellowship provided me the intentional space to reflect monthly, have access to an established leadership coach and an amazing network of fellowship peers. Ultimately, I decided to leave the state government, not because of the racism and corrupt practices that occur daily but because of my desire to ensure I was putting 100% of my energy into my community. This is where I wanted to work myself tirelessly, this is where I wanted to achieve my greatest success, and this is where my heart has been and continues to be.
Now more than ever, I have been intentional about tending to my harvest. Professional development has always been a top priority. In my professional life, I am dedicated to sustainable impact that is led by people with lived experiences. We are still amidst a global pandemic, and it has created a new social culture, a culture that I am still learning to navigate. However, it is an honor and privilege to witness and learn from my resilient community members. Initially, as an introvert, I appreciated that opportunity to be at home to reflect and rejuvenate. However, I learned just how much I value connecting with my team and being in a community with people. In my professional career, we persevered through many challenges as a result of COVID-19.
My leadership coach was crucial in my leadership development. She helped me increase my impact and lead through a global pandemic. She has been an invaluable resource. The leader I was at the beginning of the process is only a fraction of the leader I am today. My core remains, as it’s inherently who I am and who I will continue to be. However, my ability to influence, impact and navigate has increased as a result of the resources the Bush Fellowship provided me access to. I started this process thinking a lot about why me, why now, and why Bush. Well, not at the end of this journey, I can say without doubt why me, why now and why Bush. I am immensely grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.