We are committed to upholding our values in every action, and recognize that there are moments when we fall short of this commitment. Here is a living list of specific moments when we have not fully upheld our values. We share this so that we may learn from our mistakes, so that we may be held accountable to our communities, stakeholders, Fellows, our values of fearless transparency and embodied integrity, and ourselves. And we share so that we may work to practice humble leadership that centers vulnerability, relationships, and community over ego. While this list surely cannot contain the many small or more amorphous moments of misalignment, we share it to ground the conversation of upholding values in tangible moments. We recognize that living these values is a constant practice and are committed to that practice.
Moments we didn't practice care with our relationships
Email Error (Oct. '18)
We sent mass email campaigns to UNC-Chapel Hill students mistakenly referring to them as “Harvard students” because of an email template mishap.
We established a more rigorous editorial process for email campaigns, including a protocol for reviewing email language and all final drafts.
Video Mishap (Nov. '18)
We sent video introductions between Fellow Semifinalists and proposed host government officials. In several cases, these videos were sent without consent from the Finalists.
We have an Applicant Tracking Software that registers these preferences, and more care will be given to each email to reduce the risk of mistakes.
Cold Intro. Issues (Nov. '18)
When receiving email introductions to Hometown Fellow semifinalists, many government officials had never heard of Lead For America and were confused by the mission.
We work in collaboration with local government associations in proposed host community states to inform and build a stronger understanding of our work.
Turnaround Pressure (Nov. '18)
We gave semifinalists only 6 days to submit their public narrative videos. This fast application turnaround created significant attrition within the group, which may have led to some individuals dropping out.
We engage in more robust application planning to avoid burdensome requirements that might inconvenience our applicant pool or make our application otherwise inaccessible.
Response Rate Lags (Ongoing)
We sometimes stretch our bandwidth thin. At times, this has led to prolonged lags in email responses, sometimes amounting to several days or even over a week
Our staff have instituted daily email check-ins to keep one another accountable to our inboxes. This structure, has significantly sped up email response times.
Communication Challenges (Dec. '18-May '19)
After selecting our Fellows, we failed to provide consistent and timely updates to the Fellows regarding the status of the Fellow host placement process.
For future years, LFA will provide biweekly personalized updates to each Endorsed Finalist informing them of their progress within the host placement matching process.
Delayed Check Delivery (Summer '19)
During the Catalyst Institute, several training speakers who had expected travel reimbursement were not paid until days or weeks later.
With the help of our bookkeeper and accountant, we have established much more rigorous administration systems.
Follow-Up Info Missing (Summer '19)
At least one speaker accepted an invitation to attend our Catalyst Institute, but never received further logistical information about the training.
We hired a Director of Strategic Partnerships who developed a sophisticated relationship management system to prevent future mishaps of this sort.
Team Wellbeing Trials (Ongoing)
The team culture and team norms within the organization left several teammates feeling disrespected and unheard. These norms tended to cater to a specific way of communicating without making space for other styles.
We have worked to identify the behaviors and cultural norms that led to this dynamic and developed a set of group norms that we frequently revisit to reground and revise.
Feedback Failures (Summer '19)
In our attempt to create a culture of feedback, we failed to set clear expectations around how we hoped this feedback to manifest. Because of this, several speakers received public feedback from the audience that didn’t come from a place of care.
We have apologized to these speakers and have built a set of shared norms around feedback with our Fellow cohort. We will continue to revisit these norms, call our Fellows and ourselves to these shared values, and work to root our feedback in a place of love.
Equity In Action
Places we need to continue taking action to center equity and justice