LLC is happy to welcome Tamitha Walker McKinnis to the team as our new Senior Project Manager. Joining us from St Louis, Missouri, Tamitha brings with her a wealth of knowledge from her impressive and varied career path as a trainer and facilitator, grantmaker, researcher and most recently, as a consultant.
In addition to the professional skills she will add to LLC, we are also excited to note the great values alignment between LLC and Tamitha. When asked about what values are most important to her, Tamitha quickly listed “transparency, collaboration, diversity, trust, shared power and leadership, and centering equity.” These are values that live at the heart of LLC. It appears this connection is also clear to Tamitha who said, “I knew I was in the right place, with the right set of folks when the first conversation I entered on my first day prompted me to respond to questions about shifting the dominant narrative and building power.”
When I asked her why she cares about leadership development, Tamitha said she was interested in thinking about how leadership could be defined differently, what new approaches could look like, and how leadership development could be a space where power can be shifted and built. She's also interested in exploring how leadership development can bring together numerous actors to make change, and to support those engaged in collective action and building movements. Tamitha noted that the issues we care about persist beyond discrete initiatives and programs, and that we must be prepared to defend or maintain any wins or progress we make, as ground can be lost and new issues will likely emerge. Tamatha believes disrupting oppressive systems requires well-positioned, persistent, and powerful leaders who are equipped and supported to make change. When Tamitha talked about how leadership development could be different, she didn't just talk about tangible capacity building, training, and learning products, but also approaches that meaningfully prioritize and center relationships, trust, equity, and inclusion.
These values have been a constant throughout Tamitha’s career. When asked why she decided to pursue social justice as her profession she noted that, for her, it has never been just a job, and is instead a calling or vocation. In fact, she never conceived of doing anything else such that she couldn't even imagine what an alternative would be. Like many of us, Tamitha’s career path has not been a straight line, instead, it has had interesting twists and turns. Tamitha explained that she “loves numbers” and initially planned to be a researcher when she realized that she also loved making meaning of numbers and narratives, as well as working with directly impacted communities, perhaps more than she enjoyed doing pure academic research. Over the course of her career she has managed to thread together the different motivations which fuel her work; particularly her desire to demonstrate the value of working in movement spaces as a way to advance and sustain social change.
At LLC, I imagine this evolution in her approach will continue, Tamitha explains that one of the things she's looking forward to about LLC is joining a community of learners, folks who are open to challenging her and being challenged. She's excited about getting to know the team and the network better, and sharing her own contributions.
Tamitha has come to LLC at a fortuitous time, as LLC approaches our 20th Anniversary we are eager to explore new and innovative ways we can contribute to the field of Leadership Development. We are excited to have Tamitha with us on this learning journey.