In Praise of Unsung Heroes

April 20th, 2011

I walked into our offices today (as I do most Tuesday mornings) and noticed how deeply clean and neat our space is. Now normally, I would just say “Hello” to folks, head to my desk and begin my day. Today, I stopped and noticed the beauty and order around me, and realized that a team of three great women comes in every single week, and helps us create a workplace that is calm, clean and organized.

For the most part, they go unrecognized. We pay them, we greet them when they are here, but mostly they go about their business with grace and efficiency, and it would be easy to never notice or acknowledge the effects of their work on our collective well-being.

I am deeply grateful for what they bring us.

There are many people currently working to cool down the nuclear plants in Japan. They go to work every day knowing that they risk their health and lives so that the rest of us might be spared a complete melt down. They go about their work without much fanfare or media attention, and it would be easy to not notice or acknowledge the effects of their work on our collective well-being.

I am deeply grateful for what they bring us.

None of us leads alone. Someone teaches our children, paves our roads, manages our parks, keeps our cell phones working, and unless something goes awry, it’s easy to forget how much their work benefits us. These seemingly small acts of everyday leadership make it possible for our organizations to operate (hopefully thrive), and I invite you to take a moment to honor the often behind-the-scenes work that fundamentally supports your own leadership.

Who is making the copies? Taking out the trash? Planning the next board meeting? Writing the grant reports? Attending the community meeting?

Please take a moment and send out a thought/prayer/blessing of thanks to those whose work sustains yours. They (often we) make it possible for us and others to take on the risks and challenges needed to bring about a new world. They (often we) are more than not, overlooked and are owed a debt of gratitude.

Spring is a time of emerging growth – of renewal. As you grow and renew yourself, remember that you are not alone, that you are an integral part of a vast network of good-hearted and courageous people, each supporting each. Thank you for doing your part. Thank you for being a part of the whole.

Happy Spring!

From my heart to yours.

April 2011

New Fellowship for Upper Midwest Leaders

Across the Upper Midwest, activists are organizing to support the rights of workers—many of whom are unsung heroes. In the spirit of strengthening this social change movement, we are proud to announce the launch of the first-ever Fellowship for Upper Midwest Leaders, thanks to the generous support of the Fetzer Institute, the Baptized Phoenix Fund, and the Katz and Kranz Family Fund.

This pilot fellowship will bring together a group of 20-24 social change leaders working in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Fellows will attend the Art of Collaborative Leadership, Strengthening the Practice Refresher course, and receive peer and professional coaching. Throughout the six-month Fellowship, participants will learn the tools needed to develop their collaboration skills—with the ultimate goal of strengthening collaborations in the Upper Midwest.

Application to the first year of this fellowship will be by invitation only. If you are interested in learning more about the Fellowship for Upper Midwest Leaders, please contact, or call Bernie Schlotfeldt at (510) 524-4000 x105.

Nominations for the Fellowship for California Leaders of Color

We are pleased to announce that we are accepting nominations for the Fellowship for California Leaders of Color. Now in its third year, the Fellowship is designed to offer powerful tools in collaboration and leadership to a learning community of 18 leaders of color, working with communities across the state. The program specifically invites nominees from the Northern Central Coast, San Joaquin Valley, and greater Bay Area. Our deadline for nominations is May 5, 2011.

For more information and how to apply or nominate a leader, please contact: or give her a call at 510-524-4000 x 104.

Alumni in the News

Rockwood Alumna Annie Leonard recently launched a new movie, The Story of Citizens United v FEC, which explores the implications of the recent Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the right to spend unlimited funds to influence elections. Annie is an alumna of the Yearlong Leading from the Inside Out Fellowship and is the creator of The Story of Stuff Project. Congratulations, Annie!