Thank You for Nominating Me for a CORO MLK Leadership Award

Thursday evening, I was feeling a bit down – we are in a lull with #AMPLIFY both in terms of fundraising (sigh) and new Q&A contributions (sigh) and I’m trying to stay motivated. I’m also worried about my personal money situation and feeling like I need to allocate more time to paid gigs and less time to #AMPLIFY. Or find a terrific artistic residency program to focus on #AMPLIFY (sigh.)

Then I had a little wakeup call. A Facebook friend shared an urgent request to find a winter coat for a young gay-identified female student in the Pittsburgh Public School system. Apparently, the school does not have an excess of coats right now. So I spent a few hours putting out the word and, eventually, a Northside neighbor (and new Facebook friend) named Michelle drove a brand new coat to my house around 9 PM. I took it to the high school Friday AM and handed it off to the teacher.

That’s the person I aspire to be – the person who people ask to help find a coat or addresses some other fundamental need. I really don’t want to be the fundraiser, public face or administrator. I never aspired to be an Executive Director (never, not ever, never never.) I just want to be a social worker/community organizer. It fits.

A little bit after I began my coat search last night, I received some truly unexpected news – I have been nominated for the Distinguished Individual Leadership Award in the 10th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Awards. They are sponsored by CORO Pittsburgh.  I have no idea who nominated me or why, but I am honored to be among such august company – truly, I mean that. These are amazing people and I’m genuninely shocked to be among their ranks.

Distinguished Individual Leadership Award recognizes people in our community who have made significant accomplishments towards the common good by modeling Dr. King’s inclusive approach to leadership. 2017 Nominees: Emmai Alaquiva, Jordan P. Allen, Sr., Julius Boatwright, Bob James, Jennifer Kennedy, Sue Kerr, Reverend Shanea Leonard (4), Leah Lizarondo, Dr. Karen Mallah, Janet McCall, Michael Mingrone, Father Regis Ryan, Celeste Smith, Terrell Thomas, John Wallace, Tamara Whiting, Lisa Williams, Bruce Woods (2), Jasiri X

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This is how the awards are described

Leaders are catalysts. They create opportunities for others to step forward and contribute to a change process. Values-based leaders catalyze others towards a larger societal cause. Martin Luther King Jr. was a values based leader. He was a catalyst for the civil rights movement. Through his community organizing he created a context for thousands of Americans to participate in changing laws, policies and practices that reinforced racial segregation and oppression.

I don’t really think about myself as a leader because I’m not running an organization or serving on a board or anything like that. I am a blogger so I guess that fancy term ‘opinion or thought leader’ might apply because I am definitely not lacking in opinions. But I don’t set out to necessarily catalyze change in the sense described above.

And I would never try to excerpt or analyze the leadership theory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in a blog post (or a meme.)  It is so maddening when folks use one sentence quotes like that. Ugghhh.

I do think that #AMPLIFY is a catalyst project simply because it is one of the few spaces or efforts where you or anyone with an Internet connection can access the voices of nearly 200 LGBTQ folks with thoughts big and small about their community and their hopes and dreams. It is a context to understand the LGBTQ community through the eyes and experiences of the “everyday person” versus through the filters of organizations or agendas. The opinions sometimes clash and force us to rethink the concept of the “gay agenda” in terms of consensus building.

And we find coats for our youth who need them.

That’s who I want to be. I want to among the ranks of Jasiri X, Father Ryan, Celeste Smith and Shanea Leonard. That is amazing to me. And I am so honored to receive this nomination.

Thank you, Pittsburgh.


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  • Fantastic! Congratulations, truly – and yeah, I wanna be one of those who goes out and gets the “coats” or the shoes – or the whatever for those in need of as well. You inspire! Thanks.

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