Friday, August 19, 2011

ESR Examines the "Core of Quaker Leadership" at 2011 Conference

By Jay Marshall, Dean of ESR

Joe Volk delivers his plenary address to attendees
I spent the past weekend with about sixty Friends who have an interest in leadership. Mine is a biased opinion, to be sure, but the collective buzz and the energy it generated were exhilarating. For the second consecutive year, ESR hosted a conference on leadership. It is one result of ESR’s decision to add a leadership emphasis within the M. Div. curriculum.
Attendees work in small groups during a workshop
This year’s theme, “Seeking the Core of Quaker Leadership”, captures the essence of the motivation for this new venture. The conference included presentations from: Joe Volk, who recently retired as executive secretary of FCNL; Bonalyn Mosteller, who works in the area of leadership development with Friends Services for the Aging; Alan Kolp and Peter Rea, who teach business persons about the integration of virtues and business; a panel presentation by businesspersons (Peter Laughter, Chiyo Moriuchi, Ray Ontko, and Lawrence Ross); plus some leadership with Earlham connections (Jennie Isbell, Paul Lacey, and myself). Friends, indeed all groups, benefit from good leadership. Where better to discover how such leadership can thrive than among Friends experienced with leading? 
Bonalyn Mosteller leads one of the workshops
This year’s event was rich and diverse in terms of experience. The attendance roster included leaders from the corporate and the non-profit world, religious and secular organizations, academics and practitioners alike. Attendees and presenters together contributed much weight to the learning experience. One exciting feature was the simple fact that about 2/3 of conference participants live outside of Richmond, Indiana. In fact, most of that 2/3 number live outside of Indiana! This indicates the topic has an appeal to a wide range of individuals, many of whom are willing to travel in order to participate. 

Attendees enjoy a meal and conversation
I made more new acquaintances at this event than any I can remember in the recent past, many of whom have skills and talents that I do not have but about which I would like to learn more. Even now, a breakfast conversation echoes in my mind. I was reflecting upon a new idea from the day before, and acknowledging that I did not know how to apply that to my work even though I could see its value. One person at the table said in response, “I can help you with that. That is what I do in my work.” Indeed, she has already sent a document describing how I might proceed and offering further assistance when I need it. 
Many of us have experienced the power and good results that emerge from the synergies of Friends who value implementation as highly as conversation. I hope that time will prove this to be one of those occasions.

No comments:

Post a Comment