I have attended 7 sessions of the Emerging Leaders program, and the impact of these seven days will last a lifetime. I remember rushing to get to the first session in lower Manhattan on a Sunday morning from my home in Westchester. It was a rough commute and I was depleted after hosting my daughter’s fifth birthday party (which had a hip hop danced theme) the previous day. As I waited for a much delayed 1 train, I was uncertain about adding a new commitment to a very full plate of a working mother of two little ones. Ten minutes into the first session, I knew that applying for Emerging Leaders was one of the best career decisions I have ever made.
I was able to immerse myself in a community of open and kind young professionals who were struggling with similar issues in their nonprofit careers. During each session our bond grew closer as we tackled difficult topics and revealed personal stories. Yael is an amazing facilitator who guided us on the often tiring journey of self reflection. We explored a host of questions: Who am I? What are my strengths? How do others perceive me? What kind of leader do I want to be? How can I strengthen my weaknesses? What do I do with my Myers Briggs results? I like to work collaboratively; can that be detrimental to my success as a leader? What can I do to compensate? Through peer coaching exercises and group discussions, we were able to take time from our busy and demanding lives to truly think about ourselves in a safe environment.
On the eve of my final session in the Emerging Leaders program I want to take the time to thank everyone involved including the Emerging Leaders staff, Yael, the speakers, my amazing fellows, and my supervisor for supporting this very important opportunity. I truly feel like I am "emerging" from this program as a leader and a better person. In the January issue of O magazine, Oprah said “people often pursue a life or journey that doesn’t belong to them”. We have to learn our own path, by taking the time to learn about ourselves and making choices that “enhance the spirit” rather than “drain our power”. Every CEO and Executive Director told a similar story the fellows – no path to success is direct. You can only find the right path with missteps, understanding your behaviors and learning about yourself in relation to others. Over the past 7 sessions, I have a better understanding of my own path. I know what sustains and drains me. I know what I need to do to make a difference in the nonprofit field. I will leave the last session with heightened self awareness, a wealth of knowledge, great skills, and great new set friends (who I will keep in touch with for years to come).