“The world needs new leadership, but the new leadership is about working together.”
This past weekend was the last day of camp. I sat in the front row like a proud mother listening to 175 children that were not truly my own, talking about love and kindness and acceptance. Never have I been more proud. The lessons these 6th, 7th and 8th graders taught every parent in the room about their experience at camp were awe-inspiring. If ever this message was needed…it is now.
I am privileged to serve over 3,000 students a year, as the Executive Director of a non-profit leadership organization, which also runs a summer program. We have two full-time employees and hundreds of high school and college students volunteering that serve as camp counselors and mentors. Students teaching students, to listen to one another, to respect and learn from different opinions and how to work together towards resolution. Ultimately teaching them how to lead.
Every night as I watch the news and see the continuing political discord rearing its ugly head, I can’t help believe that our children will be better than we were, they will learn, listen, come together to lead us all. These children are our hope…just as one of our students said, “It is an eyeopener to learn that you can do something to change the world…”
They say all good things must come to an end. My question is when do you know? This month I am saying goodbye to two separate non-profit boards that I have had the privilege of serving on for the past six years. I’m not sure where the time went, but it appears my time has come.
The beauty of serving is that like life, our service is constantly changing as we do. As a child, I saved pennies for others because my teacher would give us candy if we gave to those in need….my earliest memories of giving were more to myself. As a teen, I worked at the Boys and Girls Club each summer. In college, I read to under-served students with my sorority sisters, in South Tucson. As a young mother, I volunteered and raised funds to build a new children’s museum in our town. The service always seemed to fit the season of my life.
These past few years, my service has come in the form of leadership. Six years ago, when one of the organizations approached me about joining their board, I was surprised, it was unexpected and yet, I was thrilled because I love their work and mission in navigating young men out of poverty and into college. During the past six years, I have witnessed incredible change, growth and seen hundreds of young men head off to college. A privilege to witness and serve.
The second board I will be leaving is my alma mater, my all girls Catholic high school. True confession, they did try to kick me out more than a few times when I was in high school, so I do receive enormous joy in both the sweet irony and in giving back to the school that taught me actions not words.
Most of all, I will truly miss the incredible people who have made both of these experiences ones I will always treasure. The time has come and now a new season has arrived. What it will bring, I have no idea…but I know I will be ready for whatever is calling.
“You can work miracles by having faith in others. By choosing to think and believe the best about people, you are able to bring out the best in them.”
These past few weeks have been very busy with my day job of running a non-profit leadership organization. Just when I think, I simply have no more to give, these smiling amazing faces fill my soul and give me such hope for our future.
The beauty of what I do is watching high school students teach leadership to middle school students. You remember those awkward years when you wanted to be anyone but yourself.? The past few weeks I have had the privilege of watching hundreds of high school students teach and more importantly believe in these middle schoolers…..the result is the confident, smiling faces above.
When you believe in someone, you bring out the best in them. George Michael may have gotten one thing right in the 80’s…you gotta have faith.
“Believe that you can and you are half way there!”
Happy President’s Day!
I was recently asked a question about leadership and when I recognized it in my life. To be honest, the question took me a bit by surprise and required some thought. After giving my answer, I reflected upon a trait that many of us rarely recognize, the gift of leadership.
In a world where we all desperately seek followers, who are our leaders? These are words I often share with the thousands of students who will come through the non-profit leadership organization I have the privilege of working for.
This President’s Day ask yourself the same question, are you a leader or a follower? Be thankful for all of the wonderful leaders we have had in order to enjoy the freedom we all celebrate today.