Fighting Poverty with Passion
One of my last staff meetings at OPEN was a very inspiring one. At this meeting, we took time to cut out pieces and pictures from magazines that inspire our vision for OPEN, for the work and for New Orleans. As a team, we put together a beautiful collage that resonates with our personal perspectives about the work. It was amazing to see how each of my colleagues selected their pieces a different way, meshing different slogans and cut-outs that became a quilt of beautifully diverse ideas.
After presenting our pieces in the collage, we honed in on the importance of patience, and embracing the fact that change- particularly change in education- occurs slowly. In our work it is important to realize that progress is generational, and by being an organization that doesn’t directly serve the community through teaching kids, or building homes, we often don’t see dividends immediately. Rather than being discouraged by the lack of instant gratification, it is important for us in this work to believe that success is a journey. In upcoming months, OPEN will host a parent townhall, continue to engage PLTI parents via summer sessions, and will kick off the inaugural Louisiana Education Policy Fellowship Program, on target for the opening retreat on September 24th.
With my service year coming to a close, I’d like to say a few concluding remarks about OPEN. One of the most beautiful things about OPEN is its organizational culture. It’s a place that values everybody’s input, regardless of their level of expertise on the subject. It’s a place where we shout to one another from our offices, where we hug, laugh, and throw each other cupcake parties for birthdays. It’s by far the coziest office structure I have ever seen, its inclusive nature allowing immense room for personal growth and exploration. I am thankful to my executive director and all the ways she enforces that culture and energizes the organization. Though I may not ever fill her shoes in leading a nonprofit, I have learned from her what a good leader looks like. I have learned from her what passion looks like and how much she cares about her work. I have learned just how unique OPEN is in the education landscape: the only of its kind to focus on engaging the community perspective. I am proud of the way OPEN makes room for everyone’s voice within and beyond our staff, and how intentionally the programs encourage diversity. I have enjoyed being a part of OPEN for a year I cannot be thankful enough for how my coworkers have embraced me like a family.