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Couch Conversations Session 1 Recap: Rebecca Cokley

By March 29, 2018September 25th, 2019No Comments


Session 1 – Rebecca Cokley & Darlene Nipper from Rockwood Leadership Institute on Vimeo.

At Rockwood, we prioritize face-to-face connection, and that’s what makes our trainings and alum gatherings special and transformative. We would like to keep the Rockwood spirit alive outside of the training room, and share the Rockwood tools and ideas with as many people as possible, even those — especially those — who have not yet attended a Rockwood training.

But how would that spirit, that connection translate to other media?

To find out, we launched an experiment. On Thursday, March 22, we had the first edition of a new webinar series Couch Conversations, featuring Rockwood’s CEO Darlene Nipper and alum Rebecca Cokley, who served as President Obama’s Diversity Officer and is now leading the Disability Policy Center at the Center for American Progress.

Rebecca is an alum of Leading from the Inside Out National Yearlong Fellowship (LIO). She described how her experience at LIO allowed her to create bonds of deep trust with the fellows in her cohort, the kind she had previously only been able to cultivate after decades of friendship.

Darlene and Rebecca discussed how to best build diverse movements that are powerful enough to win. Rebecca talked about the work young disability rights activists have been doing to help the movement’s elders see the necessity of intersectionality despite elders’ beliefs that there’s no time to talk about issues like race, gender, LGBTQ rights, and immigration.

They also discussed the importance of recognizing disability rights within social justice work and other movements. Since roughly 1 in 5 people have a disability, the likelihood that an organization or activist group of any size includes people with disabilities is a given. And while many people may think of the disability rights movement as “white dudes in a wheelchairs,” there are disabilities that are invisible, like Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, migraines, mental health issues, autism, and cognitive disabilities. Including disability rights in our work actually makes movements more sustainable because people feel like they can talk about their own disabilities, and feel safe to be their full selves.

The conversation was also about the importance of personal ecology, and how to build a social justice movement embedded in an ecosystem of health, mutual support, and solidarity.

Check out the video at the top of this post for the full conversation. We’re hoping these new approaches will serve you well, and as always, if you have suggestions for us to improve Couch Conversations, have specific topics that you would like to see discussed or included, or have any questions and ideas you’d like to share, feel free to reach out.

And don’t forget to join us on April 26 at 2 PM for a conversation between Rockwood President Akaya Windwood and activist & author Saru Jayaraman!

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