Transforming Leadership, Becky’s Reflections by Becky Rafter

The 2017-2018 Rockwood Cohort
I recently returned from the last of three week-long sessions as part of Rockwood’s Learning from the Inside Out Yearlong Fellowship. Our final gathering was in Minneapolis, MN, not far from Prince’s Paisley Park. Amid the string of terrible SCOTUS announcements, I kept my southern hope alive and had a life-changing adventure.
One of my favorite moments happened on the last day of the session. Standing with confidence beside two of my colleagues and friends, Jerry Gonzalez of Georgia Alliance of Latino Elected Officials and Sherece West-Scantlebury of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, I shared my power statement, purpose, vision, and who I am in this work. In return, they gave me encouraging feedback and exuberant support. Standing in my power as a warrior for justice hasn’t always come easily; and I’ve not always done it well. Moments such as this were invaluable to my transformative experience. Over the course of the year, I put in hours of hard work, leaned in, allowed myself to be vulnerable, and opened my heart wide to my dreams.
The last session was all about putting our learning into practice. I presented a case study about the organizational transformation I’ve been undertaking at Georgia WAND, and received helpful feedback from members of my cohort about next steps. I shared my “horizon” long-term vision for collective culture-shifting and building trust and community across ideology, culture, race, geography/”home”, and other beautiful nuances of our human lives. Afterward, I got feedback from members of the strategy pod I’ve been working with all year: Mary Nguyen of Washington Community Action Network, Maritza Silva-Farrell of ALIGN: the Alliance for a Greater New York, and Andrea Dehlendorf of Organization United for Respect at Walmart. It was a great learning experience meeting regularly with this team of powerful women!
On Tuesday, several of us marched together in defense of immigrant rights the day SCOTUS announced its majority support of Trump’s Muslim travel ban. Later, we walked alone for a reflective (bugful, and hot) morning at a prairie nature preserve. When I was able to quiet my mind, I listened for the secrets of the butterflies, skipping along the outskirts of the lake. Watched a perfect yellow bird dart across my path and a spider carrying a sac of eggs wobble quickly away from my planted foot.
Throughout the year, I pushed myself to be a stronger and more focused, clear, and confident leader. We had an amazing cohort of supportive, brilliant, and loving social justice leaders, and I now have a tight new circle of friends and colleagues. We came through for each other time and again, for example, when Stephanie Cho of Asian Americans Advancing Justice did a great job in the peer-coaching exercise, and I determined exactly how I want to show up at Georgia WAND in this critical time.
I am bringing back new skills and tools to lead Georgia WAND into its next iteration. I am grateful to the Georgia WAND board of directors, our donors, Susan Shaer, my incredible colleagues at Georgia WAND and our partners (especially those who supported my 360’s), the entire Rockwood team, our cohort’s amazing facilitators Helen Kim and John Poore, and my fellow cohort members – I couldn’t have done this without each of you. Thank you!
My participation was supported by Georgia WAND donors and the Sapelo Foundation Organizational Development Fund. I donated my travel and food expenses. Please make a donation today online to help defray the costs of my participation in the program. You can write “Rockwood” in the notes section. Thank you very much! Onward!