Taking Care of Our Own

Nothing is more important to the nonprofit sector than our “doers” – the millions of people in organizations large and small who do the important work of improving the lives of people in America’s communities. Without our people, simply put – achieving our missions would be impossible. But are we focused as keenly on caring for our people as we are on the work they do? And can we do a better job?

We took up those questions during this week’s Upswell Pop-Up, “People Power Changework,” sponsored by the Center for Creative Leadership. We considered how we center our people as we continue to address and recover from multiple crises; our systems that advance equity and inclusion; and ways to better focus on and empower our own as we work to build a healthier and more equitable nation.

The Pop-Up kicked off in a most unique and captivating way – demonstrating how poetry can not only illuminate the unique journeys of people of different cultures, but also spotlight shared experiences that unite, rather than divide us. Joining us as a “duet” during “Two Languages/One Community,” award-winning poet and author Michael Warr and award-winning bilingual poet Chun Lu shared stories and digital photographs that deepened our understanding of the commonalities of experiences shared by African American and Asian American communities. Their exchange also highlighted the ties that bind and serve to inspire community transformation.

Recharge Your Resilience: How to Burn Bright, not Burn Out

We all know. Change is constant, unpredictable, and out of control. And combined with our challenging work fighting for racial justice and a healthier nation, it’s wearing out many of us to the point of burnout. Is there any wonder that the World Health Organization has designated ‘burnout’ as a syndrome? But it doesn’t have to be that way. This workshop shared practical and scientifically examined approaches and reinforcing behaviors we all can use to unplug (when necessary); recharge; and ‘burn bright,” rather than burn out.

Speaker: Jessica Davidson, Senior Faculty, Center for Creative Leadership

Key Takeaways:

  • Peak performance is not about doing more. It’s about how you recharge.
  • Be mindful of your focus. What you focus on in your mind – gets bigger.
  • “Recharge” is about researched, reasonable, replicable, routine, and ritual.
  • Dedicate 2% of each day to recharging yourself and getting to your “burn bright” self. Find pockets of time for “time confetti” – 5 or 12 minutes of mindless activities spread throughout your day.
  • When recharging yourself, include physical, mental, emotional, inspirational, and social.

Creating a Shared Identity for Your Board and Community

To be effective, it’s important that nonprofit boards reflect the specific lived experiences and identities of the communities we serve. But 90% of nonprofit boards don’t include a single person of color. Clearly there is more we must do to ensure that boards are equity focused and able to help bridge societal problems and develop effective solutions. This workshop explored data-driven strategies you can implement in board recruitment. You can use these strategies to build your pipeline for future board members and ensure your board reflects local demographics to understand and engage your communities.


  • Kimberly Corbin, Chief Financial Officer, Greater Washington Urban League
  • Patricia Mota, President & CEO, HACE
  • Jim Taylor, Vice President of Leadership Initiatives, BoardSource

Key Takeaways:

  • Staffs and boards must participate in anti-racist training. You can’t lead what you don’t know.
  • Board members must take “you” out of the discussion. You cannot exempt yourself from examining policies and practices and knowing the truth. You must commit to engaging in uncomfortable conversations with humility and respect.
  • Build a pipeline of future board members from auxiliary and young professional organizations with members who have benefitted from your programs and services.
  • Bring in professional facilitators for learning and to create awareness about need for board diversity.
  • Create a learning environment where there is safety to invite change to happen.
Types: Blog
Global Topics: Equity, Nonprofit Health, Organizational Relationships, Race, Equity, and Inclusion, Upswell