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Wednesday's Whim

Wednesday’s Whim: Inspiring Young Leaders

After an inspiring presentation to a room full of women leaders about her world-changing non-profit and social business Monday night, Sama Group founder and CEO Leila Janah, joined by Kathlyn Mead, President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation, were asked: how can we inspire young leaders, especially young women, to be changemakers?

Mahatma Ghandi

Mahatma Ghandi

The strongest of their responses, perhaps without even realizing it, was almost exactly this short poem by Mary Oliver:

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

They collectively said that, especially in the work Janah is doing with those living below the poverty line, the following are important:

  • Expanding young people’s worldview to help them realize that there are folks who are like them (African American, female, Hispanic, transgendered) in jobs and places they want to be;
  • Share our own stories and be vulnerable;
  • Listen, listen, listen;
  • Mentor a young person in your workplace or community; and
  • Do what Mary Oliver says: pay attention to those around us, be astonished by their good work, compliment them on their growth and success, and tell everyone we know about the good that is happening.

In our work here at Camp Stevens hundreds of young people (and people young at heart) come open and vulnerable, ready for growth, change, and transformation: campers and guests, certainly, but also staff and counselors.

All of us have an opportunity to be changemakers and inspire others to do the same: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.


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