Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Leadership Tuesdays: Millennial Leaders...We Got Next!

If we stand tall it is because we stand on the shoulders of many ancestors.

--Yoruba Proverb

Every other Tuesday, WOMEN AT LIBERTY provides a platform for a variety of voices and resources to develop, encourage, and strengthen women leaders. Today's Leadership Tuesdays' blog recognizes a few young African American leaders of this generation. In 2012, I was impressed with the activism of four young ladies who, in a matter of days, organized a march in Washington, D.C. to bring attention to the untimely death of seventeen year old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. Heather Rasberry, Megan Goffney, Maliaka Mealy along with Yolanda Carr, their friend from Florida, combined social media, the communications tools of millennials, with the proven tactics of non-violent resistance--marching and speeches--to spark activism in another generation of young people. One thing that should be applauded about their March 2012 rally is the support they received from local community leaders like Rev. Tony Lee who answered their call and used his platform to promote the work the young ladies were doing. For more information on what these young ladies accomplished, click here.
Maliaka Mealy, Heather Rasberry, and Megan Goffney

Another brilliant young woman leader who has risen to prominence in the wake of protests related to the shooting death of Mike Brown by police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri is Brittany Packnett. Ms Packnett is a native of St. Louis and the Executive Director of Teach For America in St. Louis, Missouri. A graduate of Washington University located in her home town, she has also spent time in Washington, D.C. earning a Master of Arts degree in Teaching at American University. She taught third graders in South East Washington, D.C. as a Teach For America Fellow while working on her Master's degree. This energetic young lady also worked on Capitol Hill for U.S. Representative Lacy Clay (D-Missouri) whose legislative district includes Ferguson which is a part of St. Louis County. Ms. Packnett moved back to St. Louis in 2012 to lead the local Teach For America organization. In November 2014, she accepted an appointment by Governor Jay Nixon to the Ferguson Commission that has been tasked with addressing the systemic racial and economic issues in Ferguson. Their report is due in September 2015. She was also appointed by President Barack Obama to the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. To read Ms. Packnett's biography and learn more about her organization, click here. You can follow her on Twitter at @MsPackyetti.
Brittany Packnett

For more information on Leadership Tuesdays or WOMEN AT LIBERTY, click here. 

Nona O.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

#LeadershipTuesdays Motivational Moment: My Resolve and Expectations…Ava Duvernay

In an interview with Fresh Air, Terry Gross asked Ava Duvernay, ‘Where do you go next? You’re going to have a lot more clout now as a film director.'

"I don’t know if I’m going to have more clout. There’s really no precedent for someone like me gaining clout in the space that I’m in…a black woman directing films in Hollywood. You know, no precedent for there being a black woman director who's gained any clout. Black women directors that make amazing beautiful things? Yes. I can name 50. Black women directors that have attained that kind of clout to be able to answer that question from a place of the privilege of having lots of options: I’m not so sure. We’ll see. It’ll be nice. But regardless, I’m going to keep on telling my stories. I’d be absolutely happy to go back and make a smaller picture. I never want to be….my choices to be dictated by budget. That’s one of the reasons why I take so much pride in being able to make films for two dollars and a paper clip. Because I can always get my hand on two dollars and a paper clip. I never have to ask for permission for that. And so I don’t know what the next step is gonna be, but I know that I’ll be doing what I was doing for the six years before this moment: constantly making something. You can call me at any time and ask me what I’m doing? I’ll tell you I’m making this right now. It’s about momentum for me. It’s about that artistic energy and constantly having my hands on a project. So, I don’t know what it’ll be but it’ll be something."* 

--Ava Duvernay, Award-winning director of the movie, Selma.


Every other Tuesday, WOMEN AT LIBERTY provides a platform for a variety of voices and resources to develop, encourage, and strengthen women leaders. This month, in honor of Black History Month, we will highlight African American leaders who are making an impact or have made an impact in their respective fields. Today, Ava Duvernay, an award-winning director and film maker is featured. Last week, a courageous March 2014 TED talk on race by Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments, was presented.

To view the video for last week's feature, click here. For more information on Leadership Tuesdays, click here. To hear the Fresh Air interview from which the above quote was taken, click the link below.

*The Sounds, Space and Spirit of Selma: A Director’s Take, AnInterview with Ava Duvernay by Terry Gross, Fresh Air, NPR, 1/08/2015

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Leadership Tuesdays: The Numbers Do Not Lie..Mellody Hobson

"Now race is one of those topics in America that makes people extraordinarily uncomfortable. You bring it up at a dinner party or in a workplace environment, it is literally the conversational equivalent of touching the third rail. There is shock followed by a long silence.

Now, I know that there are people out there who'll say that the election of Barack Obama meant that it was the end of racial discrimination for all eternity, right? But I work in the investment business and we have a saying, 'the numbers do not lie.' ...There is significant quantifiable racial disparities that can not be ignored in household wealth, household income, job opportunities, health care. I [talk] about this issue of racial discrimination because I believe that it threatens to rob another generation of all the opportunities that all of us want for all of our children no matter what their color or where they come from. And I think it threatens to hold back businesses.

So, I think it's time for us to be comfortable with the uncomfortable conversation about race. Black, White, Asia, Hispanic, male, female, all of us. If we truly believe in equal rights and equal opportunity in America, I think we have to have real conversations about this issue. We can not afford to be color blind. We have to be color brave."*

-Mellody Hobson, President, Ariel Investments; Chairman of the Board, DreamWorks Animation SKG
*This quote is an excerpt from a TED Talk Mellody Hoboson gave on March 20, 2014

Every other Tuesday, WOMEN AT LIBERTY provides a platform for a variety of voices and resources to develop, encourage, and strengthen women leaders. Today's Leadership Tuesdays' post is a courageous talk on race given by Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments, at a TED Conference in March of 2014. Her eloquent discourse regarding an experience she had in 2006 of being mistaken for the "kitchen help" when she showed up with then Congressman Harold Ford (D-Tennessee) for a lunch meeting at the offices of a highly regarded New York publication will make you chuckle because it seems unbelievable. But, yet it is true. As one of only two African American Chairperson of a publicly traded companies (the other person is Ursula Burns of Xerox) she is less well known than a Beyonce or even Oprah Winfrey. However, Ms. Hobson is a highly accomplished, Princeton-educated young woman.

Her talk is both relatable and relevant. She makes a business case for businesses making diversity one of its core values and part of its competitive strategy. She also makes a human argument for why we can not wait for the next election or another year to confront the issues of race and racial discrimination in America.

To listen to today's feature, click here. For more information on Leadership Tuesdays, click here.