As I flew into DC this week to speak at the Independent Sector NGEN Conference I was full of emotions. Still processing the election results. Grieving. Anxious. I've been to DC before but this was different. Everyone, from cab drivers to colleagues at the conference wanted to talk about it. The city felt somber, the way Boston felt the week after 911 - how did we let this happen? What does it mean?
In the days since the election I've had so many meaningful conversations with friends as well as coaches and mentors at Haven. What's next? We have work to do, that much is clear. Complacency, it seems, is what got us into this season in our story as a country.
After my talk at NGEN, I sat in a session called America the Diverse. The session was full of tension as we sat in a circle discussing diversity in the wake of the election. Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, Co-Director of Building Momentum Project talked about the research they have done around minorities advancing in their careers. He said 2/3rds of minorities they surveyed wanted to advance to executive positions. 1/3 of the whites they surveyed did not feel that minorities wanted to advance. There is a divide in understanding. "We need to make the opportunities match the aspirations of up and coming leaders. People of color say they are experiencing barriers, we need to believe them!" he said.
Be willing to step out of your comfort zone to use your unique voice and skills. Whether that is filmmaking, design, community organizing, or something else. Whatever you have in your toolset. Be willing to have hard conversations with your network. And not just in your echo-chamber, but with a diverse set of people. Diverse might mean folks who voted the opposite to you, and whose perspectives might make you unsettled.
For me, I feel an increased sens of purpose and timing for the work I'm doing at Haven. A renewed sense of commitment to empowering women and creatives who don't fit, especially finding ways to support those who are boldly stepping up to advocate in this season. I want Haven to be their cover.
This quote has been resonating with me more each day since the election, if it fits for you too, let it sink in:
It’s time. You are ready. Be willing.
Be willing to become the person you need to know is in the world. Be willing to become the person that you needed when you were little. Be willing to become the person you didn’t know you could allow yourself to grow into.
- Chani Nicholas