EP 014 Esther de Rothschild & Aicha Cherif are Getting the Love Vote Out

Every. Vote. Counts. And as it turns out, that is often felt most keenly from the perspective of people who are not allowed to vote.

That what motivates Esther de Rothschild & Aicha Cherif in their work running the Love Vote, an organization that amplifies the voices of people who can’t vote -- either because of youth, citizenship, or disenfranchisement. And they are doing it to move people who can vote, to vote.

Esther -- the Love Vote’s founder -- is a high school teacher and filmmaker. Aicha is the Love Vote’s outreach director. Aicha’s also a high school senior whose citizenship status means she won’t be eligible to vote, even after she turns 18 next year. (You can read the New York Times profile of Aicha here.)

We also talked about their experiences at the helm of a social impact startup, as well as their insights on leading, collaborating, and learning in the social impact space.

We talked about:

  • How they are both partly motivated by their own histories of not being eligible to vote

  • What’s important when collaborating across a generational divide

  • Why “fake it till you make it” can sometimes be really bad advice

  • What it means to make trust and respect a foundation for collaboration

  • Mobilizing voters through an emotional connection, rather than a mental one

EP 013 Kat Calvin is Spreading the Vote

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This week, I speak with Kat Calvin, the founder of Spread the Vote.

After the Supreme Court took the teeth out of the voting rights act in 2013, conservative lawmakers started passing Voter ID laws around the country. So now we have eligible voters in 34 states that are turned away from polling stations because they don’t have a state-issued ID.

So Kat founded Spread the Vote as a way to get people their IDs, so they know they can vote, and so that they won’t be turned away at polling stations on Election Day.

Kat was recognized in Fast Company's 2018 list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business, and was named one of Business Insider’s 30 Under 30. She was also featured in one of BET's Black History Month profiles.

We talked about:

  • What motivated her to build Spread the Vote from scratch

  • How leadership means knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and then putting your ego aside when it’s time to let someone else’s strengths shine

  • The crucial difference between being a CEO/executive director, and being a founder

  • What life looks like as someone at the head of an ambitious organization working to secure people’s voting rights in the run up to a major election

EP 012 Kishshana Palmer: Elevating the Way We Think About People in the Nonprofit Sector

Kishshana Palmer is a ball of fire, and she is coming for the nonprofit sector. Lucky us!

This was such a fun conversation with someone who is so good at naming the dynamics that hold us back, and how we can rise above them. Listen to my conversation with Kishshana, this week on the Dialogue Lab podcast.

Here’s a highlight:

“Thinking about talent, and thinking about our number one asset in this sector — which is our people — is something we cannot continue to miss the boat on. Or be excited that we wear people out.

"I don’t want to continue to have to cite stats about how quickly fundraisers roll out of their roles. Me included. I don’t want to be excited about the fact that we’ve burnt yet another person out.

"Maybe excitement is not the right word. Maybe it’s more like, 'oh, they couldn’t cut it.' Or 'well you know, this work is hard.' Or taking pride in being like, 'oh we’re bone weary.' I don’t want that. I don’t want any of that.”

And if you know some folks who could use an antidote to burnout in the nonprofit sector, please share this interview with them!

EP 011: Melanie Dewberry: A philosophy for action grounded in a deeper truth

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The thing about Melanie DewBerry is that she did not come here to mess around in the shallows.

Listen to Reva Patwardhan’s conversation with this shimmery, brilliant, sparkly woman who is a coach, speaker, author and indigenous ceremonialist in this week’s episode of the Dialogue Lab podcast.

We went deep, deeeeep, on what it means to act for change from a place of stillness. And how that is an essential journey for anyone who wants to take a stand for social change, while not losing themselves in the fight.

Here’s a highlight: “It took me years to realize to go inside myself. And to change my chaotic way of being. My chaotic thinking, my chaotic belonging to this consensus reality, and inhabit the world of beauty inside. That took me 10 years to realize. 10 years.… and now, I can honestly tell you. I’ve got more beauty that I’m living in and that I’m creating from, than I have chaos. And that is making a change in everybody I touch. And everybody who touches me.”

EPISODE 010: Rebecca Aced-Molina: When you are Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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EPISODE 010: Rebecca Aced-Molina: When you are Between a Rock and a Hard Place --

This week, a conversation with Rebecca Aced-Molina, an amazing coach and facilitator who is a faculty member with Leadership That Works, a school for coaches who want to be effective in social impact spaces.

Rebecca shared her journey as someone making her way in the nonprofit space, from her early disillusionment in nonprofits, to finding her unique way of making an impact as a coach.

We also talked about the double-bind -- that special way that women, people of color, and people with marginalized identities find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place -- and what to do to navigate your way out of it.

Rebecca has such a clear and thoughtful way of speaking about the kinds of things we all struggle with in the nonprofit space, and I look forward to sharing it with you.

Here’s a highlight:

“One of the things that annoys me about this dynamic, is that women have been socialized since Kindergarten to follow the rules, to do what they’ve been asked to do. Girls outperform boys in school across the nation, they get admitted to college more than the guys do, they finish college at greater rates than their male counterparts, and as soon as you start looking at management, they drop off the scales.

“So a lot of my clients are like, ‘I have been playing by the rules, working my ass off… since I started in the professional world, and I’ve gotten praised for multitasking, for being able to develop a positive relationship with a wide variety of people, picking up the slack when other people drop the ball, and that’s how I’ve gotten ahead. And now suddenly, you want me to be a visionary too?!”

EP 009 Sarai Johnson is Creating Belonging instead of Burnout in Nonprofits

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This week,  Reva Patwardhan speaks with Sarai Johnson, a speaker, coach, author, and founder of Lean Nonprofit. When I first encountered Sarai, it was through a blog post she’d written about how nonprofits and foundations often unwittingly use management and funding practices that perpetuate the very culture of poverty and oppression they are fighting against.

Sounds like serious stuff, but what I so appreciate about Sarai is her ability to tell it like it is with humor and empathy. Empathy that comes from the fact that she’s been there too.

We talked a lot about how nonprofit work can feel like a grind. And we also talked some things we can all do to do better.

We talked about:

  • How to spot the ways workaholism, patriarchy, racism, and burnout show up in nonprofits

  • How applying LEAN principles -- a planning process popular in Silicon Valley -- can help create a culture of belonging

  • How to leave your nonprofit job without burning out or burning it down

EP 008 Daisy Ozim is Building Resilience and Decolonizing Public Health

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This week, Reva speaks with Daisy Ozim, founder of Resilient Wellness, a nonprofit that builds community-based solutions to address intergenerational trauma.

Topics talked about:

  • How building resilience as a leader -- especially if you are a woman of color -- means learning not to internalize the negative messages we get when we don’t fit a traditionally white male template of leadership.

  • We also talked about how Daisy has worked to position herself as a thought leader in a sector that often excludes and marginalizes voices like hers.

-- This is the last of 3 episodes focusing on the social justice intersections of public health. -- 

EP 007: Daphne Robinson is a Prosecutor Creating Alternatives to Criminal Justice

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Introducing Daphne Robinson:

Daphne Robinson is an Assistant District Attorney by day, an advocate for criminal justice reform by night. In her 20 years of working within Louisiana’s juvenile justice system, Daphne saw the system failing to protect kids -- kids who were committing crimes, and kids who were victims of crime. She got her masters in public health, and started a nonprofit called, The Center for Public Health and Justice.

How a concern for kids caught up in the criminal justice system led an Assistant District Attorney to create evidence-based and community-based alternatives to prosecution and incarceration.

We talk about Daphne’s experiences as an Assistant District Attorney in Louisiana and founder of The Center for Public Health and Justice:

  • What she saw that led her to take action
  • How she went from being an outlier to an influencer
  • How she builds bridges between public health and criminal justice communities
  • The questions she asked that helped her identify mental health as a root concern for both public health and public safety

-- This is the second of 3 episodes focusing on the social justice intersections of public health. -- 

EP 006 Nikki Akparewa is Bringing Social Justice to Nursing

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A conversation about how nurses can be transforming health care by adopting a coaching, anti-racist, and social justice mindset. 

-- This will be the first of 4 episodes focusing on the social justice intersections of public health. --

New episodes every other Tuesday! Subscribe in iTunesStitcher, or Google Play, or your favorite podcatcher. 


Introducing Nikki Akparewa:

Nikki Akparewa is a coach and nurse educator, and founder of Transform Nursing. She sees enormous potential for nurses to lead social change, because as she says, “nurses are connectors, and we are everywhere.”

Nikki is out to transform nursing. She’s working to address the ways that racism shows up in medicine, and affects the wellbeing of patients, and practitioners.

She also wants to equip nurses with the tools they need to be influential, at the point of care, as well as with policy makers.

We started our conversation by talking about her early days as a nurse, when the seeds of her social impact mission were planted.

Interview Highlights

[12:06] what I remember in the very beginning was how difficult it was for me to sort of wrap my head around not only critical care in nursing, but just wrap my head around the culture that I was working in.

I worked in a culture in nursing that really allowed and permitted workplace bullying behavior, which we call in nursing, “lateral violence.” ...Anywhere from 40 to 80% of nurses will be a victim of lateral violence…. so I was definitely in that kind of culture. A very high stress, intense workspace.

[16:15] People started to come to me and tell me to watch my back. And said, you know you need to watch what you're doing.

And it was scary. It was scary in a whole new way for me because then I just didn't know. I didn't know why it was happening. But sadly, what was hardest for me was that being a black woman, a woman of color, what came up for me first, and the lens that I was looking through, was, “is this happening because I'm a black woman?” That was the hardest part for me. And that was the part that I had the least control over.

Like I could control my education. I went to the number one nursing school in the country at the time. And I did fine. And I was just really concerned that the reason why I might not make it on this floor would have nothing to do with my skill or my competence. But would have to do with being a black woman.

And that's when I started thinking about social justice. And that's when I started thinking about cultural humility. And the role of how nurses give voice to social justice in general, and what we really need to do to help all of us feel included in the work of nursing.

[23:19] I was just taken aback that nursing wasn't doing more in nursing schools and curriculum. [Racism] is just not addressed. It is addressed in a very surface way. We’re very comfortable using expressions such as “health equity,” using expressions such as “social justice,” and we've even gotten better about ...the things that are closer to us now like unconscious bias…. However what I have found in general is that people just aren't really ready to use the word “race.” To really say that word out loud. Or “racism.” Afraid to say that word to put a name on it, or class and classism.

We're not comfortable using those types of expressions in professional spaces. ...In professional spaces where people's lives actually depend on our ability to not only have these conversations and stop playing small about it, but really depend on our ability to impact people in global ways.

[25:17] It's really hard for people to believe that race is connected to health. But I want to share a little bit about ... Dr. David Williams. He is a lecturer at Harvard and almost all of his research has been focused around health and race... when he was at Harvard, he said that the death rate of Blacks that had graduated from his program was three times higher than the average class member....

What he found was that these everyday [racist] slights actually did show these physical and biological changes in the body. In the inflammatory processes  -- in the inflammatory immune system, and inflammatory processes in the cardiovascular system. It put all this additional stress on the body. It actually put people at increased risk for high blood pressure for abdominal obesity, breast cancer, heart disease, and even premature death. And so it begs the question, is health connected to race? And it is.

[38:52] Nurses are the largest group of healthcare workers in the United States....Nurses are everywhere. I mean we're in hospitals, we're in schools, we're in prisons, we're in outpatient clinics, we're in community centers, we are ...in rural areas ... We're also the very front line for patient care…. That's why I think I think nurses are going to be the vehicle by which health policy is going to be dynamically changed in the United States.

[52:53] [On humility in leadership] This is really tricky because healthcare providers don't want to be perceived as though they don't know something. This is hard work for us because people come to us for answers. They come to us because we have expertise. And we have to do the work ... to learn that, yes, competency comes in understanding the pathophysiology of someone, the biology of someone. But we cannot be competent on someone's emotions, the way that they can. We cannot be competent on what people want out of their lives. We cannot be competent on exactly where that person is coming from. For that, we must accept humility.

[1:06:35] I have a basic trust that for the most part humans want to be the best humans that they can be…. And I believe that healthcare providers are no different, because they're just people. And they're put in a position of having to know a whole heck of a lot, without a whole lot of training. And that's what I'm here to really do is to help train people who have not had the ability to learn about working in multicultural spaces. About understanding how to take care of people from different backgrounds and different groups. and understanding power differences. I'm here to expose those things so that people have a greater level of humility. and humility comes from internal work. It comes from the combination from the internal work, and from being exposed to people who are different than you.

A big thanks to our sponsors:

Sasha Allenby is a ghostwriter for thought-leaders in the social evolutionary field, specializing in books on socio-economic, racial, sexual, gender and refugee equality. www.sashaallenby.com

Alexis P. Morgan is a writer and artist. You can see her unfolding work, “The Season of Maya,” at https://www.thechurchofsaintfelicia.com/

EP005: Sujatha Jesudason is Reclaiming Innovation for a More Soulful & Resilient Movement

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“Some of the most innovative and creative people are people who have been the most marginalized and most oppressed. That it is on the margins, under the most constrained conditions, that some of the most interesting and creative stuff has happened. In part because that's what you need to survive....

"...I think about my immigrant parents, who came to the US relatively resource poor. And my mother is the best recycler I knew! She recycled, she re-used, she reduced her use, like the best! I mean she was recycling before recycling was a thing.

"And so in terms of innovation, for me a big part for social justice groups and nonprofits, is actually reclaiming our legacy of innovation.”

That’s Sujatha Jesudason in the fifth episode of my podcast (Dialogue Lab: Social Impact + All the Feels).

Sujatha is the founder and Executive Director of CoreAlign, which is building collaborations to ensure that all people have the resources, rights and respect for their sexual and reproductive lives.

She also just started teaching about innovation in social movements at the Milano School of Public Policy at the New School in New York.

Listen to our conversation about reproductive justice, speaking race to power, collaboration across difference, and innovation in social movements.

EP 004 Chandra Brooks Wants You to Sit at the Table and Get Off the Menu

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Chandra Brooks Wants You to Sit at the Table and Get Off the Menu --

"I had to build my own visibility, my own clout as Chandra, in order to make things happen the way I wanted to see them. So not only as a person within an organization.... But also I had to build it for myself, so I had some major influence on what happened in my city….

“I am just Chandra Brooks. Yeah I have all these accomplishments now, but I'm just Chandra Brooks from the east side of San Jose that got kicked out of 3 schools, and that graduated pregnant. So understanding that if I can do it, you can do it.”

That’s Chandra Brooks in the fourth episode of my podcast (Dialogue Lab: Social Impact + All the Feels).

She is a leader who is experienced in building collective power and creating change in her community, and now she’s working to prepare women of color who are new to politics to run for office. She’s doing this through a project called The SocialPreneur.

EP 003 How to Boldly Face Racism with Lee Mun Wah

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Dialogue Lab is an Awarepreneurs Podcast Network Member.

A conversation between Dialogue Lab's founder Reva Patwardhan and Lee Mun Wah focused on finding the courage and compassion to stand up -- even when courage comes at a price. And on his work to encourage that capacity in others as well. New episodes every other Tuesday! Subscribe in iTunesStitcher, or Google Play, or your favorite podcatcher. 

Dialogue Lab EP01: Brigette Iarrusso - What we do with love and anger

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Dialogue Lab is an Awarepreneurs Podcast Network Member.

A conversation between Dialogue Lab's founder Reva Patwardhan and Brigette Iarrusso.. about politics, anger, and love. We talk about her family's experiences since the hurricane in Puerto Rico, being a mom, the lessons she's learned, and her work with social impact leaders. 

Subscribe in iTunesStitcher, or Google Play, or your favorite podcatcher.