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The enthusiastic and engaged inaugural WPC Leadership Institute, powered by Rootstrong and The Privilege Institute, was a great success! Originally capped at 25, there were 29 graduates of the 2016 Institute. The diverse first cohort represented organizations from across the US, and included a few international members as well. The group consisted of professionals in higher education, P-12, non-profit, public and the private sectors, as well as a number of (college) student leaders. The largest group came from Wheelock College in Boston, MA which included ten students, faculty and staff members who were eager to take their experience and learning back to campus.
Facilitated by Rootstrong Executive Director Dr. Joe-Joe McManus, the Institute included presentations and dialogue with multiple leaders on issues of privilege, social justice, educational and workplace equity. The Institute began with, “We the People,” an engaging session with Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., founder of both the White Privilege Conference (WPC) and The Privilege Institute (TPI). Eddie set the foundation for the Institute, which included a full-day prior to the conference, and lunch sessions throughout. He engaged the cohort in an interactive dialogue on white supremacy and privilege, stretching back through history and examining our current reality.
After an introduction to the Rootstrong Leadership Model (RLM), and examining the difference between leadership and the false leadership trio of power, privilege and positionality, the cohort dug in on two layers of the model – Roots and Critical Competencies. The RLM begins with our Roots (Life Experiences, Individual Traits, Family Guidance, Community Influence, Cultural Education, Societal Impact, Intergenerational Memory, and Instinct), which encourages the incorporation of familial, community, cultural, and other approaches to leadership and promotes knowing one’s intersectional self and social location as core to leadership development.
In the way of example, Dr. JuanCarlos Arauz, Executive Director of E3, engaged with the cohort on Critical Competencies. JuanCarlos focused on how Cultural Resilience supports 21st century skills development which can lead to success academically, in the workplace, and as a leader. Dr. Arauz highlighted some of his organization’s cutting edge work on student and employee assessment, providing food for thought on how we determine who is “excellently prepared” and how best to promote innovation and success.
Dr. McManus then led the group in the development of a dispositional lens for critically examining their engagement around issues of power, privilege, equity and social justice. The cohort was challenged to consider their own social location, any Privileged Fragility (or White Fragility – as defined by R. DiAngelo) they may be demonstrating, and how they might engage with Cultural Humility (as defined by Tervalon and Murray-Garcia).
The cohort then had the opportunity to bring it all together with Dr. Kecia Brown McManus. Her highly engaging presentation examined a wide range of workplace, organizational, and individual realities including a range of microaggressions and microaffirmations, Stereotype Threat and Imposter Syndrome, and Dr. Joe-Joe’s favorite, the Dunning-Kruger Effect, tying it all back to the previous concepts presented during the jam-packed first day.
For the next three days the cohort fully engaged in the Conference. Each day at lunch, the cohort reconvened to debrief and to engage with a small panel of keynote speakers, artists, and workshop facilitators. On the first day, the group had the opportunity to engage with WPC veteran Dr. John Palmer, Chair of the Department of Educational Studies at Colgate University; “The Race Doctor,” Dr. Frederick Gooding, Jr. from Northern Arizona University; and attorney and sociologist Dr. Jacqueline Battalora from Saint Xavier University.
The second day of WPC brought another impressive panel to the cohort. Participants had the opportunity to engage with Dr. James Loewen, the prominent sociologist and author of Lies My Teacher Told Me; the international artist and Raptivist, Aisha Fukushima; Dr. Robin DiAngelo, most noted for coining the term and developing the concept of White Fragility; and independent school administrator, Dr. Elizabeth Denevi.
The Institute wrapped up with a final debrief with Drs. Moore and McManus on Sunday. Participants shared some of their key learnings, appreciations, and plans moving forward.
Participants described their experience as rejuvenating, educational, encouraging, and an innovative way to experience the White Privilege Conference. Rootstrong and The Privilege Institute are already working on plans to build on the success of the first year of the WPC Leadership Institute, and we are all looking forward to the second cohort at WPC18 in 2017 - hope to see you there!