Healthy Communities/Strategic Partnerships Manager, California,
Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Los Angeles, CA
Who or what inspires you?
Last year I visited OST sites to share and demonstrate physical activity games that get youth and staff moving (literally and figuratively!) toward a healthier OST site. All I brought with me was a small tote bag of supplies and a big grin on my face. The kids warmed my heart with their eagerness to try a new game and release some energy, whether we were in the classroom or outdoors, and in either instance having limited equipment or supplies. During an activity similar to Simon-Says, a few kids even added their own twist – suggesting the group respond to the leader’s instructions by doing the opposite move AND with eyes closed! In another classroom, older youth stepped in to facilitate the activity with younger kids who were demonstrating their own personalized movement of the day for the whole class to try out. The classroom activity took on a life of its own, where healthy and fun swirled into one. It amazes and inspires me how sometimes simple activities and actions that we take on with a full heart and energy are the ones that have the biggest impact.
How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
I work in a virtual organization that depends on Skype video calls as a key setting for collaboration, and if you’re not careful there’s lots of opportunity to turn off your brain or get distracted while listening to voices over a click-through PowerPoint presentation. To counteract the impulse to disengage, we set the stage for every large group meeting with an opener or ice-breaker. These build a more comfortable and interactive atmosphere that facilitates creative thinking and sharing. Often we share about relevant holiday or weekend activities, but sometimes we’ll give our brains breathing room by collectively completing a maze or word search activity on the virtual whiteboard before digging into the topics at hand. We also talk a lot about our core values as an organization – including “Inner Fire” and “Never Settle” – which helps us stay motivated to contribute to the best of our abilities, and to expect excellence from each other.
Is there a quote or saying that you live your life by?
Like many people, I love the expression “be the change…,” attributed to Gandhi. It’s a simple mantra that is easy to keep at the front of my mind anytime I’m tempted to be discouraged or bogged down by the opportunities for cynicism that confront us every day.
Another long-time favorite quote comes from Martha Graham – it’s exciting to me that her words can speak strongly across disciplines. Creating opportunities for positive social change can be similar to creating beautiful choreography, each motivated by a deep purpose or call, which is a greater driving force than any single moment of pleasure or satisfaction.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” (As quoted in The Life and Work of Martha Graham (1991) by Agnes de Mille, p. 264, ISBN 0-394-55643-7.)
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Humility. Often times, the more we learn, the more we understand how little we know. I love the concept of “servant leadership” and the way that vulnerabilities and weaknesses are actually sources of deep strength. The leaders I most admire are those that build momentum by empowering others to succeed, and who know that, ultimately, it’s not all about them.
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
Lately, I’m excited to be supporting a district afterschool program in developing its own wellness policy based on best practices for healthy eating and physical activity in the OST setting. All school districts are required to have a wellness policy in place, but it’s not always easy to identify and train OST site leaders on the pieces that most apply to them. When an OST program or provider steps up to the plate and creates its own wellness policy, that seals in its commitment to creating a healthier environment for kids, it makes a strong statement to say, “We are a quality program, we’re serious about empowering our youth and families, and we go above and beyond.”
What are you currently watching on Netflix?
I’m not so into TV, but recently saw the movie Poverty Inc. on Netflix, and got a kick out of old episodes of Cheers.
Why are you a part of the BOOST Leadership Team?
The BOOST Conference is an amazing event, but BOOST is also an impactful community of OST leaders who like to have fun and support each other. The learning and laughs exchanged across this team throughout the year are priceless!
For breakfast I had coffee, an apple, a bagel and string cheese.