Go Green Empowerment – Happy Birthday, Michael Royce!

Go Green Empowerment – Happy Birthday, Michael Royce!

Happy Birthday, Michael!

I imagined this day from two years ago, and I saw it out in our collective futures. I knew it would be a day to celebrate your enormous legacy of social justice. You have truly led and lived by the small is beautiful ethos: a holistic and community-centric approach that should be adopted world wide. This is true for both for your global work with Green Empowerment, and here at home in your own community. Because of this, your spirit resonates with some of my deepest desires for community development and a more connected world.

Preserving your legacy is a key reason for my continued support of Green Empowerment.

In a world where shady development practices abound, Green Empowerment takes the slow and deliberate approach to making a difference–one community at a time. Although this may not show the outsize numbers that institutional donors want to see, it brings deep, sustainable impact that numbers alone cannot reflect.

I am thankful for all that I learned from my brief time with Green Empowerment. However, after too many years working extremely long hours, with high expectations for extreme problem-solving, I didn’t know how to establish limits. Also, as an admitted work-o-holic, this was especially hard as a new, working mom who expected nothing less than being Super Mom. It finally took a mentor to remind me of the Buddhist principle that we each create our own suffering.

I’ve learned that we need to foster a work environment that is progressive and inclusive of our differences.

Coming from the world of DC international nonprofits, I was used to a much larger, faster-paced work environment. At a small, lean, NGO this dynamic was far different. As much as I loved Green Empowerment’s mission, the contradicting approaches and expectations were difficult to manage. I moved a little too fast for the comfort of some.

I’ve learned that a board’s role is to support the team to work more effectively and achieve impact.

Towards the end of my leadership with Green Empowerment, I was spending more time interfacing with the board than doing the work. I knew from previous experience that growing the organization started with building a really solid team of individuals. While I did this, I experienced significant resistance in the form of top-down, scrutinizing, and unsupportive management. Leading my team with confidence while feeling, acutely, the board’s lack of the same was a fragile balance. (BTW I highly recommend sharing the New One Minute Manager to any new board members).

As you step down from your role on the board, I want to share a few key takeaways that will help Green Empowerment in its next phase:

  • Ensure that staff have adequate compensation and benefits; this should be a right of social justice workers everywhere.
  • Raise funding to increase the budget to cover more key positions in the organization.
  • Create a maternity benefit now. Find a space for a private nursing/pumping room in the building, or nearby.
  • Identify additional partners and funding sources to expand the impact of Green Empowerment, while staying true to core values.
  • Continue to put out increasingly transparent records to set an example of how to be accountable with development dollars. (Green Empowerment is a leader in this respect, and should continue leading by example.)
  • Focus on communicating the impact you make in the world and develop a stellar presence in the sector.
  • Host more local events to celebrate successes and build community support and solidarity. Share the world with Oregon.

My greatest hope is to see Green Empowerment meet its greatest potential for doing good in the world.

I know it can. Thanks for all you have done to build its roots for that growth.

In Peace,

Miel

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