Chesapeake Environmental Leadership Fellowship: Let the journey continue…

A little history about this blog: I started writing this blog, when I received my Archibald Bush Leadership Fellowship back in 2011.  We were asked to report amongst our peers and larger network in some mode, and I chose a monthly blog.

A quick browse through my posts will reveal a mixture of writings about leadership development, building self-awareness, notes on self-care and balance, as well as articles I’ve written about community-based social marketing and understanding behavioral nudges in order to advance sustainability.

Looking back, it was all pretty abstract to me.  I understood the concepts of effective leadership, I could explain how different strategies and practices might work and why they were effective, but I did not know them myself.

photoToday marks 3 years since I arrived in Washington, D.C.  I can’t say it’s been the easiest experience.  These last three years have challenged me in ways I could not have expected – some of my experiences out here in DC have left me deeply disappointed, and even hurt.  I’ve questioned my own abilities (and had them questioned publicly), I’ve had to re-affirm my interests and passions, and more than once, I’ve put myself out there only to be beaten back.  I wouldn’t wish these experiences on anyone else, but they have made me stronger and I have grown in unexpected ways from them.

Today, I am challenged, inspired, and feel supported in so many ways.  Montgomery County is such a wonderful place to be working in energy policy. My current work moves rapidly, is evolving every week – it seems a new challenge and opportunity presents itself on a monthly basis, requiring me to re-calibrate my expectations of my time, my abilities, and my goals.  It is both exciting and exhausting.  I also have the pleasure of working with very talented and passionate colleagues and am blessed to have the time and flexibility to also focus on my own health

The lessons I learned through my mentors and my Bush Fellowship have given me tools  to survive (when the challenge is threatening), thrive, navigate, and dig deep.   I have come to know and understand that leadership is indeed a practice and it is one meant to sustain the work, grow the work by engaging others, and take care of myself for that work.  

My MoCo teammates and me at a tree planting

My MoCo teammates and me at a tree planting

Out of these last three years, in both the inspiring and challenging times, I’ve experienced great reward and richness. I’ve met amazing friends, inspiring mentors, found new things to love, ended up at an amazing job, and learned so much about myself and what I am capable of adapting to. I must say, I am GRATEFUL for it all.

Which is why I’m very excited to announce the next iteration in my leadership path: I’ve been accepted into the Chesapeake Regional Environmental Leadership Program.  Over the next 7 months, I’ll be working with 19 others in small groups, meeting over the course of 3 retreats, to strengthen and hone my skills, vision, and path as a leader (in my own small way) to advance sustainability and environmental issues.  I am excited to have this unique opportunity to learn and (hopefully) grow in new ways, to find new connections in my work and how I conduct my work.

elplogoAnd I am especially excited to take another step to further integrate myself in my new home.  The mid-atlantic/Chesapeake Bay region is still a strange place to me, but I’m looking forward to learning more about the larger environmental community that is at work here, and to learn from them about their vision, and how I might fit into it all.

Thank you to Montgomery County DEP for providing me this opportunity, to my chief/supervisor for his support in this and daily endeavors, to my Bush Fellowship cohort members and mentors, and my Minnesota colleagues (CERTSies!), and family for inspiring, supporting, and still cheering me on.

Like with my Bush Fellowship, I will endeavor to post some updates about my experience.

Let the journey continue…

“The rechargeable batteries within us”: Bush Fellows Leadership Development Seminars Pt. 2 (of 8)

Last week, I had the privilege of again spending two full days with my Bush Fellows cohort, Martha, and our “guides”, Val and Ann.  As my fellows and I venture deeper into our work and understanding what that work is, many of us arrived feeling like we’re balancing 6 spinning plates at once, wondering how those plates got their, and at least I was a bit concerned about how I could keep them all spinning.  We designated the two days as many different things, but for one, it was a chance to recharge our batteries. Continue reading

Pressing Pause in Leadership Development

The second day of the MN Council for Non-Profits Annual Conference offered two really great workshops on leadership development.  One workshop in particular has been on my mind this past week as I prepare for my October monthly report.

A workshop with Christine Hammes from MAP for Non-Profits, Lea Goldstein Moses from the Improve Group, Gwen Cannon from the Metro Regional Arts Council covered many of the concepts I have encountered so far throughout my Bush Fellowship and leadership seminars: Understanding that self-change precedes community change; Building a tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty; Cultivating patience and flexibility; Discerning between technical versus adaptive challenges; and Self-Care and Reflection. Continue reading

A Game-Changer: Construction company builds sustainability in their workplace

On Friday, I had a wonderful conversation with Kathy Kuntz from Cool Choices in Madison, WI, in which I learned about the success they have found with an energy efficiency game in a construction corporation.

Kathy and I connected a year ago after both attending the Fostering and Sustainable Behavior Workshop in Milwaukee, WI.  Since then, we have both been working on applying concepts of behavior change around energy.  Below are a few reflections on our conversation, some helpful findings, and valuable thoughts!

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Practicing leadership every 11 minutes

Why Small Interactions Matter (in the GALLUP Management Journal), interviews Douglas Conant, former CEO of the Campbell’s Soup Company about “touchpoints”.

Touchpoints are the small face-to-face encounters that make up our work day.  They appear to be “interruptions” – the unexpected phone call, a reminder, a “bopping in to say Hi!”, or a quick chat in passing.  And these touchpoints happen every 11 minutes on average (not counting when we interrupt ourselves).  That’s a significant part of our workday.

…The real work for leaders is in dealing with all those encounters in a productive way. How effective are you in those minutes with those interruptions, those phone calls, and in those conversations with someone in the hall who’s been meaning to talk to you or with someone you bump into on the plant floor who has a question for you? That’s the real work of leadership. What you make out of all those small everyday encounters defines your impact on your organization and ultimately, your reputation.

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