On March 2nd I had the great honor of attending the Kravis De-Roulet Leadership Conference at Claremont McKenna College. Founded in 1990, this year’s conference, titled “How We Rise: Strategies for Social Innovation” focused on questions such as, “How can we come up with innovative solutions that help us all create a better future together?” Tackling issues of polarization and underrepresented communities, and teaching participants to come up with unique and innovative solutions to the problems those issues pose, this conference has still stayed relevant 28 years after it was founded.
We started out the day by hearing Tina Rosenberg, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-founder of Solutions Journalism Network, speak about how journalism and storytelling are more effective if you provide a solution rather than just stating the problem. After we heard Rosenberg, we heard Kathleen Kelly Janus, author of the bestselling book Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, talk about how to found a successful startup. Janus gave us key strategies that she believes are critical to organizational success. She worked for years to research more than 200 organizations, in order to prove that social startup success comes down to five things: testing ideas, measuring impact, funding experimentation, leading collaboratively, and telling compelling stories. It was truly an honor to hear these genius keynote speakers, and learn from their experience.
After hearing our morning keynote speakers, we were given the choice to pick one out of three workshops about social innovation. I chose to go to the workshop entitled “Owning Expertise: A Live Experiment in How Credibility Works and How Ideas Rise” presented by Katie Orenstein, Founder/Exec Director of The OpEd Project. This highly interactive presentation demonstrated how credibility in the workforce works. The live experiment gave all of the participants insight into how people should introduce themselves in professional settings. Katie Orenstein talked about how women, and specifically women of color, often sell themselves short when trying to display their credibility. This was very touching for me as a woman of color because I related to being in situations where I felt embarrassed to share my accomplishments due to fear of sounding “too forward” to people who might be prejudiced against me. I walked out of this seminar with a deeper sense of what I stand for as well as some tips on how credibility works. I will use the tips that I learned from this seminar to help cultivate my voice, as well as innovative new ways to share my ideas and perspectives.
This conference was a life changing experience for me not only because of the speakers I got to hear, but because of the community I got to be a part of. It was really inspirational to be in a room filled with such accomplished and thoughtful people who are dedicated and passionate about positive and innovative social change. As a new student at Sequoyah, I was very honored to be given such a great opportunity not only to grow my perspectives on social innovation, but to represent my school while demonstrating leadership in the Social Innovation Program.
From the Director of Social Innovation: Thank you to the generosity of Scott Sherman, Gemma Bulos, and Lidia Romero at the Kravis Leadership Institute for allowing our students to attend. We are thankful for the partnership and look forward to returning the favor!