Take your time arriving: LLC’s 2023 year in review.

December 18, 2023In Liberatory LeadershipBy and

Gratitude: Before we share our top 10 highlights of 2023, we’d like to share gratitude for our team, our board, the folx we work with at PossibilityLabs, our free radical consultant partners, and the many of you who have enriched our work with your feedback, wisdom, and learnings. Thank you.

1. Our Learning Framework in Action.

With help from our friends at StarLion Collective, we completed a learning framework in early 2023 and spent the rest of this year putting it into action.

This year, our team, along with brilliant consultants like Alexis Goggans, Aisha Shillingford, Bess Bendet, Catherine Labiran, and Marie DeMange, have supported a seven-part virtual series, launched three communities of practices, brought two learning circles to completion, and hosted 16 BIPOC affinity spaces that have equivocated to 54 virtual and in-person gatherings.

In addition, our team members have spoken on esteemed panels, produced and contributed to over a dozen writings (articles, blogs, and reports), and reached thousands of subscribers directly through our newsletters.

At every opportunity, we made meaning of liberatory leadership and practiced it. We will continue to make space a hundred times more in the upcoming years. We know it takes time to understand this work and to make the shift in practices and culture that we must make to sustain progressive movements.

As you’ve heard us say before, we hope you take your time arriving. Take your time so you are nourished, rested, and open to the beauty, love, generosity, and joy that is required of us to work outside of systems of oppression.

Learn more about why we are making space for liberatory leadership and liberatory practices by checking out our learning framework here, along with this blog and this blog about our learning journey.

2. Growing our team

This year, we added two staff to our team, Sadia Hassan and Alexandra Urdaneta, to support our liberatory programming, operations, and communications work. They’ve not only added capacity to LLC, but they have also helped us deepen our understanding of liberatory leadership, intergenerational work, distributed power, and sustainability.

“Having Alex and Sadia here, getting to know them, and learning with them has been a joy. They have shared their talents, wisdom, and care in the projects they work on our teamwork, and our community-building efforts. Moreover, they’ve shared countless books, poems, health tips, and music that have inspired me over and over again. ” -Nikki Dinh.

See our liberatory hiring blogs and resources here.

3. Introducing play as a liberatory practice

“If joy is essential, play is essential. You should have fun doing this work. After all, we are on the right side of history. Sometimes play/fun is really just another way of shaking off the restrictive binding of professionalism and modeling a different rigor rooted in joy.” -Ericka Stallings.

This year, we’ve hosted a play a virtual series, played internally, and snuck in play in our meetings with many of you. It has been silly, joyful, and rebellious. Moreover, this practice has been a way to remember joy, even when our bodies, mind, and spirit could not.

See our play blogs and resources here, and remember to check this one out, too.

4. A new website and ✨lewk✨

In partnership with Agenda28, led by Iman, Kyle, and Alex, LLC launched a new website and branding this year. 

“The website and branding work was more than just a visual facelift. The intention we put behind this project asked us to clarify who we were and visually reflect our values, mission, and vision. From the site map to the music and graphics, we needed to understand the meaning and the invitation we were offering through this portal to a wider audience.” -Iman Mills Gordon and Kyle Shimamoto.

Visit our website at www.leadershiplearning.org 

5. Zoom disclaimer language

“Take your time arriving. As you join this meeting, we invite you to take a deep breath in and exhale. Please take your time arriving. If you need a bio break, a break from videos turned on, or even need to reschedule, we welcome you to share this with us.” -The team at Leadership Learning Community. 

If you’ve joined our virtual meetings, you may have seen a disclaimer pop up. We do this for external AND internal meetings. It is in recognition of a habit of over-scheduling and the urgency culture zooming from one meeting to another for hours straight creates. It supports a shift towards slowing down for purpose and acknowledging that even Zoom meetings have an innate harm to them if we let it. We invite you to use our language or create one that reflects the values and shifts you seek in our virtual gathering culture. 

Here are the technical instructions on how to add one to your Zoom account: https://support.zoom.com/hc/en/article?id=zm_kb&sysparm_article=KB0066925  

Want to see this disclaimer in action? Check out this page for upcoming LLC events

6. BIPOC Affinity Group

“Take a moment, breathe, step back–ask yourself: What’s going on here? What’s the story beneath the story?” – BIPOC Affinity participant in “Navigating Generative Conflict” discussion. 

7. Supporting Leadership Transitions

In 2019, LLC began our leadership transition from a founding leader. This was a tender time. Since then, we have been on this journey with many of you who have shared your learnings, transformative wins, and incredible challenges.

This year,  LLC has had the pleasure of working with and supporting leadership and organizational transitions in many ways and forms, like 1:1 consulting, facilitating peer learning circles, sharing resources, and supporting the creation of resources. 

Download Brilliant Transformations: Toward Full Flourishing in BIPOC Leadership Transition. Written by Michelle Flores and Elena Conte, Independent Consultants under the advisement of Bianca Anderson of ProInspire, AiLun Ku of BIPOC Leaders Network, and Ericka Stallings of Leadership Learning Community on behalf of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation).

More blogs and learnings on this topic are coming in early 2024. If you’re interested in a leadership transition peer learning space, could you reach out to Nikki? We’ll happily host one or a few if we have critical mass. 

8. Implementing a Flex Friday Policy

“It has been well publicized in the past few years that staff in the social good sector are experiencing burnout at an alarming rate. This experience is also confirmed for us by the past personal work experience of many LLC staff members. Furthermore, this experience is amplified for communities that have historically experienced the weight of continuous work to dismantle the many interconnected systems of oppression that have led to the deep inequity that our communities face today. Our intent with Flexible Fridays is to provide a small measure of the necessary healing, rest, and reflection for our communities and organizations focused on race equity, collective liberation, and leadership.” -Kyle Shimamoto.

Read more about why we are prioritizing rest.

9. Launching Several Communities of Practice and Leadership Circles

This year, LLC was in deep practice around liberatory leadership. We challenged ourselves to operationalize it, learn with the community, and understand the deeper corners of this work together. 

“Our communities of practice are about connection and exploration. These are spaces for groups of values-aligned leaders to come together and continue to hone their liberatory leadership practices, deepen their liberatory leadership network, and experiment with new liberatory leadership tools and ideas. We are fortunate enough to learn with these leaders, and we’ve developed mechanisms for learning capture to share our new understandings with the broader field. We provide the container, and the participants readily engage, stepping into their values of transparency, vulnerability, and collaboration as they wrestle with challenges and support each other. Most importantly, many participants consistently express gratitude for a space to get outside of the usual day-to-day routine and connect with other leaders who are also navigating the complexities of intentionally learning, unlearning, and living into the future as we move towards liberation.” – Iman Mills Gordon.

10. The greatest highlight this year for LLC was being together as a team. 

“Two things I value are love and generosity – it feels like this team exemplifies that” – Bella Celnik.

“I feel blessed to have found LLC – for being in a place surrounded by an awesome, kind team and being values aligned. I’m thriving now, and I feel it.” – Alexandra Urdaneta.

We are a virtual team from California, New York, Wisconsin, and Florida. We see each other in person about 1-2 times a year, but we spend a whole lot of virtual time together through emails, Zoom meetings, and various platforms. This year, we were honored to do many cool things with very cool people. Still, the steady hand is our small team at LLC – in how we hold each other in times of happiness and despair and challenge each other to do just work in just, joyous, and liberatory ways every day. We couldn’t do this work without this teamming. 

Read more about LLC’s oasis culture here, including specific actions that help LLC reduce the stress, scarcity thinking, and urgency that can make our institutions feel like deserts.