I don’t know about y’all, but 2022 is FLYING by. It’s somehow already the end of April, which at RVC means we’re just a couple months away from starting the fourth cohort of Community Impact Fellows! Before we introduce you to the incoming cohort in June, we want to take a beat to share stories of leadership and growth from our 2019-2021 Community Impact and Green Pathways Fellows.
At RVC we really value a culture of learning out loud, and as RVC’s Learning and Evaluation Manager, it’s my whole job to make sure we’re regularly evaluating, reflecting on, and sharing our impact. One of my favorite parts of my job is talking with Fellows at the end of their two years in the program. I get to sit down with each of these amazing BIPOC leaders to reflect on their leadership growth from learning how to write grants to making lifelong connections.
Each Fellow is unique – in their background, their passions, and their work – and so no Fellow’s experience of the program was the same. The conversations with our 2019-2021 Fellows were rich with stories of collective learning and community support. Their reflections were sweet, genuine, and inspiring.
You could fill a whole report full of Fellows’ learnings and reflections…and we did just that! In our 2019-2021 Fellowship Program Report, we share cute pictures, powerful quotes, and heartfelt reflections of personal and professional growth – what more could you want?!
I invite you to read and reflect with us, but if you only have a minute here are four major takeaways from our 2019-2021 Fellows’ reflections on leadership!
Building a strong COLLECTIVE of BIPOC leaders
From the start of the program to the end, Fellows described their connections with one another as strong, supportive, and loving. They shared appreciation for having a network of people with whom they could share resources, seek advice, and celebrate wins with. Fellows named that even as shelter in place began, the bonds they formed at the start of the program remained and only grew stronger.
Leading with an ADAPTIVE and open mindset
In the wake of the pandemic and civil unrest, many Fellows had to pivot their work by adapting to virtual programming, switching to direct service work, or grappling with staff transitions. Being open to giving and receiving feedback was key in helping Fellows think holistically about their work and acknowledge and act on their own needs. Despite how challenging it felt at times, Fellows said these experiences grew their confidence, let them take on new responsibilities, and build skills.
Growing into TRANSFORMATIONAL leaders
By the end of the program, Fellows felt more confident in themselves, and named that they felt a stronger sense of pride in their work and how they show up.
Fellows could see this growth in confidence among the other fellows and also noted transformations within their organizations, such as stronger feedback cultures, more inclusivity and openness, and stronger organizational infrastructure and systems processes.
Embodying JUST leadership
Fellows felt like they were leaving the program with a stronger sense of purpose and direction. Every Fellow named ways in which they sought to embody justice for their communities – whether it was teaching others what they’ve learned, modeling wholeness and vulnerability with young people, or centering joy in their leadership.
We know that our Fellows wouldn’t have had this opportunity without the generosity and support of our community, and we send many many thanks to our host organizations, Fellow mentors, brilliant training facilitators, and of course, you. We feel honored to have been able to foster the growth of such brilliant BIPOC leaders with you by our side and are excited to do it all again when we kick-off the fourth Community Impact Fellowship in June!