When I began the LDI Fellowship, I was comfortable with my professional position. My supervisor at the time was a mentor as well as a friend, my direct team dynamic was strong and supportive, and I truly enjoyed my work. I had no aspirations to grow and had repeatedly told my supervisor that I had no wish to move up within my organization, primarily because I was happy with what I was doing.
After the first Leadership Retreat, my thought process began to shift. As a white, middle class, educated professional, I understood that I held privileges many did not. As we explored the concepts of power, privilege, and oppression, I started to think about the implications of carrying these privileges without taking action to help others.
Through the exploration of strength-based leadership, and how to leverage them in our professional aspirations, it became clear to me that I needed to do more with what I had. The concept of ‘if I can do more, I should,’ resonated louder and louder within my soul. It was serendipitous when, in March, a Supervisor position became available within my organization. I decided that it was time for me to leverage my skills, my privilege, and my power in a greater capacity to help others.
Throughout the application and interview process, I utilized many concepts from the LDI Leader Circles to frame my answers. Specifically, the need to provide equitable services and programs, as well as staff development, were the focus. I would not have had such strong answers without the in-depth conversations surrounding the strong need of our community. In May, I obtained the position as Supervisor of all Out-of-School Time programs within my organization.
With this new position, my actions have a greater reach in the community. I am able to strongly advocate for lower prices to ensure accessibility, as well as scholarships to serve those who most need access to our programs. Additionally, with the support of my team, I am better able to identify areas of opportunity within the programs offered, and strategically plan ahead to address these deficits.
My favorite part of my new position is the ability to guide professional development within my department. Previously, the trainings offered by my organization were reactive and only scheduled when a dire need was identified. As a Supervisor, I am better able to assess the true training deficits of staff, and coordinate trainings, workshops, and other development opportunities. For example, this year I have scheduled a citywide training in January specific to the out-of-school time realm. This is the first citywide winter training that we have offered that is program specific, and will result in over 200 staff receiving 8 hours of professional development that they wouldn’t receive otherwise.
On a personal level, this year has been very tumultuous. Through my grief and struggles with the loss of my cat, as well as my marriage to my now husband, the LDI cohort has been there to help ground me. Through phone calls, texts, and social media posts, members of our LDI family have reminded me that there is constantly opportunity for growth and reestablishment of priorities and goals. I will be forever grateful for the genuine, caring friendships fostered in this fellowship.
At the end of this year, I have come out a different person. I am stronger. I have a heightened sense of duty and responsibility towards my community and the environment. I feel empowered. I am no longer hesitant to speak my mind candidly when I feel there is an injustice, but have also learned to navigate these conversations in the most productive way. I have also accepted that as I change, my goals, priorities, and career objectives may change, and that’s ok. Through this fellowship, I now have the self-reflective skills to truly identify my intrinsic motivations, which will ultimately ensure that I have a sense of fulfillment with my future career.