October 23, 2017

Figuring Out What To Do

October 2017Starting today (why today? Because it occurred to me just this morning, that’s why today), I’ll address one self-development topic per week that I find interesting or timely or otherwise useful to my vast and adoring fanbase. Some introductions and practices, some useful tips to conquer obstacles, and some things to keep yourself going down the path.

I know there are a lot of blogs out there focused on self-development, career transitions, and nonprofit leadership. So why pay attention to mine? Good question. Here’s my perhaps inadequate answer: because I’m a coach for the social justice sector.

I’m occasionally asked what I mean by ‘coaching for the social justice sector.’ The reality is that I am fully, 100% present for every one of my clients, whether they check a “marginalized” box or not.

Here’s the difference: when I coach, I am acutely aware of what it means to be marginalized. My entire professional life has been about understanding, supporting, and amplifying the experiences, truths, and resilience of oppressed communities. I support my clients to find their voice, confidence, and power while being mindful of oppression.


I’m reminded of the cartoon line, “But if you shovel the ramp, we can all get in!” I know that if we pay attention to, learn from, and build our activities (social policy, architectural design, coaching models, food choices at conference meals dear god, and everything else) based on the experiences of the most vulnerable among us, then that’s going to yield the best results for all of us.

That sums up everything about me: my engagement with all my clients derives from my engagement with people who are the most marginalized. So my affluent, white client and my financially insecure, perhaps queer, perhaps POC client are “treated the same,” which in practice means my privileged client gets the benefit of the acute sensitivity to privilege and oppression I bring to my engagement with my marginalized client, rather than the status quo situation in which my marginalized client would be denied the privilege of the full presence I offer my privileged client.

I also bring to this blog:

  • My years of research and teaching in sociology of race/class/gender stratification in work and family;
  • My years of working closely with undergraduate and graduate students on graduate school, fellowship, and job applications;
  • My background in nonprofit leadership as executive director, staff member, board member, and volunteer;
  • My own personal spotty career record, successes and failures, and total breakdowns and crises of confidence; and
  • My own history and deep reflection as a brown queer immigrant woman.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

Next up: coaching? therapy? diy self-help? what’s the right intervention?

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