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Lessons From the Field: Nontraditional Leadership Epistemologies for Helping Women of Color Navigate Unstable Landscape (2012 ACE-OWN Conference) Betty.

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Presentation on theme: "Lessons From the Field: Nontraditional Leadership Epistemologies for Helping Women of Color Navigate Unstable Landscape (2012 ACE-OWN Conference) Betty."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lessons From the Field: Nontraditional Leadership Epistemologies for Helping Women of Color Navigate Unstable Landscape (2012 ACE-OWN Conference) Betty M. Lovelace-Ross, Ed.D. Associate Provost and Associate VP Capital University Note: No portion of this presentation can be used without written permission from the presenter.

2 Some Realities ◦ Women of color have made noteworthy gains in spite of issues of race, gender and class. ◦ The intersectionality of race, class and gender issues a clarion call for action to be able to wade through the barriers. ◦ Our ability to develop appropriate skills to leverage diversity, establish support networks and create alliances is the recipe for success.

3 A Challenge and Invitation For Us To: ◦ Identify internal and external ◦ challenges. ◦ Determine how to overcome ◦ the obstacles we face. ◦ Draw upon the lessons from our mothers and “othermothers” on leadership knowledge. ◦ Determine innovative connective opportunities to build bridges. ◦ Define specific strategies and action steps to move forward.

4 Defining the Problem: Environmental Factors Regardless of the environment in which African American women/women of color find themselves, the lack of critical mass and systemic racism prevent their ability to be successful. Regardless of the environment in which African American women/women of color find themselves, the lack of critical mass and systemic racism prevent their ability to be successful. Many African American women find themselves navigating the socio-political complexities of the ivory tower [the workplace] in isolation. Many African American women find themselves navigating the socio-political complexities of the ivory tower [the workplace] in isolation. There is a persistent struggle to There is a persistent struggle to discover and occupy our rightful place that will yield personal fulfillment and economic mobility.

5 Black women are “de mules uh de world, so far as ah can see,” Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston, 1937) Black women are “de mules uh de world, so far as ah can see,” Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston, 1937) Black women are fewer in number, occupy positions that afford little, if any power, receive little or no support from peers, underpaid and overworked (Mosley, 1980). Black women are fewer in number, occupy positions that afford little, if any power, receive little or no support from peers, underpaid and overworked (Mosley, 1980). Recurring issues: chilly and unwelcoming climate; competing personal and professional obligations; dismissed intellectual ability; give more; receive less; and burn out sooner. Recurring issues: chilly and unwelcoming climate; competing personal and professional obligations; dismissed intellectual ability; give more; receive less; and burn out sooner.

6 Determining the Impact Feelings of isolation and invisibleness (Thomas and Hollenshead, 2001) Feelings of isolation and invisibleness (Thomas and Hollenshead, 2001) Inability to be as productive or feel connected to the environment in which you spend the vast majority of your waking hours. Inability to be as productive or feel connected to the environment in which you spend the vast majority of your waking hours. The isolation causes you to question self-value, worth and creates a general distrust even for those who look like you. The isolation causes you to question self-value, worth and creates a general distrust even for those who look like you.

7 Reclaiming Self and Space Narratives and counterstories contribute to the centrality of the experiences of people of color. The lived experience has meaning. Tell your story! Narratives and counterstories contribute to the centrality of the experiences of people of color. The lived experience has meaning. Tell your story! ◦ (counterstories in welcoming and hospitable counterspaces – Hughes and Howard-Hamilton, 2003) Acknowledge what you are experiencing. Acknowledge what you are experiencing. Establish bonds and relationships (contentious events are seldom in isolation- Collins, 2000). Establish bonds and relationships (contentious events are seldom in isolation- Collins, 2000). The ethic of caring. Emotion and empathy provide greater understanding to our unique experiences. The ethic of caring. Emotion and empathy provide greater understanding to our unique experiences. Connect through mentoring. Connect through mentoring.

8 We must take initiative and continue to proactively forge meaningful formal and informal mentoring relationships if we are to survive and thrive in professional settings. We must take initiative and continue to proactively forge meaningful formal and informal mentoring relationships if we are to survive and thrive in professional settings. Recognize strength and richness in the collective. Recognize strength and richness in the collective. Faith and spirituality are coping mechanisms Faith and spirituality are coping mechanisms ◦ We can’t leave spirituality out of the equation. Connect through involvement in professional organizations (camaraderie and networking fulfill social and psychological needs). Connect through involvement in professional organizations (camaraderie and networking fulfill social and psychological needs). Institutions have a role to play and must be intentional both in programming initiatives and other incentives. Institutions have a role to play and must be intentional both in programming initiatives and other incentives.

9 Matrilineal Leadership—Mother and ‘Othermother’ Matrilineal leadership informs our primary leadership style. Matrilineal leadership informs our primary leadership style. Black women’s lived experiences go against the feminine ideal (standpoint theory) Black women’s lived experiences go against the feminine ideal (standpoint theory) Black women in particular have had to embrace a multiple consciousness and utilize these instruments to advance self and others. Black women in particular have had to embrace a multiple consciousness and utilize these instruments to advance self and others.

10 Nontraditional Leadership Epistemologies Practicality—ability to shape one’s leadership identity, practices, philosophies and strategies. Being “shored up.” Ability to thrive in the wilderness. Practicality—ability to shape one’s leadership identity, practices, philosophies and strategies. Being “shored up.” Ability to thrive in the wilderness. Strong woman warrior—able to “run with the wolves” (Pinkola, 1992) Strong woman warrior—able to “run with the wolves” (Pinkola, 1992) Trailblazer—making the path so that others can see it and follow. Trailblazer—making the path so that others can see it and follow. Transcendence—from the inside out—moving from imagination to a reality Transcendence—from the inside out—moving from imagination to a reality Oppositional Awareness—recognizing and embracing your inner and outer voice. Oppositional Awareness—recognizing and embracing your inner and outer voice.

11 Artful Dissembler—ability to disguise/control/manage inner feelings in order to advance. Artful Dissembler—ability to disguise/control/manage inner feelings in order to advance. Center your Plow. Ability to transcend current circumstances. Seeing yourself in another place/space Center your Plow. Ability to transcend current circumstances. Seeing yourself in another place/space Know your opponent. Know your opponent.

12 The Sayings of Mama ‘nem Accountability/Responsibility ◦ Every tub must stand on its own bottom (self sufficiency) ◦ God helps those who help themselves. ◦ Your self worth is more important than your net worth (Patti’s Pearls)

13 More Sayings… Spiritual Development ◦ If you can look up, you can get up. ◦ Trust and never doubt, he will surely bring you out. ◦ In all of your getting, get wisdom, get understanding. ◦ If I’m right, he’ll fight my battle! Hold Center—ability to recover from daily emotional trauma or distress as “returning to center” much like a plumb line does.

14 More Sayings…. Leadership Development ◦ Be careful how you treat people going up, you may meet those same individuals coming down. ◦ Nothing beats a quitter but a try. ◦ Don’t judge a book by its cover ◦ You don’t miss your water till your well runs dry. ◦ The only time you run out of chances is when you stop taking them (Patti’s Pearls)

15 Rotten wood cannot be carved. Meaning: You can’t reform everybody. Rotten wood cannot be carved. Meaning: You can’t reform everybody. You can’t smooth out the surf, but you can learn to ride the waves (Patti’s Pearls) You can’t smooth out the surf, but you can learn to ride the waves (Patti’s Pearls) A thousand mistakes are an education if you learn from each of them. A thousand mistakes are an education if you learn from each of them.

16 Plowing the Ground of Self Efficacy “My hand is on the plow, my faltering hand and all that is before me is untilled land. The wilderness and its solitary place. That lonely, lonely desert with all of its interspace. The handles of my plow with tears get wet. The shares with rust are spoiled and yet and yet, my God—my Mother’s/Othermothers’/Sisters’/ God keeps us all from turning back. For she who puts her hand to the plow and even looks back is not fit for the kingdom [for service].” (Author unknown)

17 Thank You!


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