Power of One
When I joined The Mockingbird Society in 2011, I was an angry, fearful, and self-hating 18-year-old struggling to understand my place in the world. I couldn’t imagine letting new people into my life. That changed when I got involved with Mockingbird. I’ve learned so much about myself over the last six years, have met amazing people and have seen lots of changes. Mockingbird has taught me not only about transitions and how to handle them, but also how to say goodbye with intention.
Saying goodbye to our Engagement Specialist is hard and brings different challenges with each farewell. In my six years here, our Chapter has seen four different Engagement Specialists and we’re about to meet our fifth. They’ve all had their own style and brought something new to our Chapter and each has had a unique impact on me. As I prepare to meet our next Engagement Specialist, I’ve reflected on what I’ve learned from those who have come before.
Courtney was the first Engagement Specialist I got to know at Mockingbird. She was encouraging and pushed us to be our best selves. Courtney helped me understand how the Chapter worked and what advocacy was all about. Courtney was our backbone. I looked up to her in a way that I rarely looked at people. She brought structure that pushed me to branch out and try new things. I did my first trainings under her wing and was able to share my story in a way I never had before. She taught me how to own my story and to share from a place of power. With Courtney, I became the first member of the Everett Leadership Team. Courtney gave me the stepping stones to challenge myself and step up as a leader.
Next was Franceska. I remember getting lost bussing to Everett from Deming for our first meeting. I had no phone and $4 in my pocket. When I finally got to the meeting, it was worth the journey and Fran was a big part of that. She was always there when we needed her and our team grew a lot. It was like a personal renaissance for me; I enjoyed the challenges and looking back, this is when I became comfortable as a leader. Fran taught me to be flexible. It was hard when Fran moved on, but because she supported us to be ready for change, we were ready when she left.
When Fran left, I knew our team was strong but it was a scary prospect to transition again. Then I met Cecily. She made it known right away she was counting on us to be strong and independent leaders. We worked together on common goals and having a plethora of amazing Chapter Members was, and still is, our biggest resource. She challenged us in different ways — to find our strengths and weaknesses and work on both. With Cecily, I became a Chapter Leader and she was there to support me. It’s been amazing working alongside her to grow our Chapter and to prepare the next generation of leaders. Now that we are facing another transition, I can clearly see that Cecily has given me the tools to accept myself as a leader and as someone who will one day be on the other side saying goodbye.
As I get ready to say hello to a new staff member, I have some advice for the next Engagement Specialist. Be yourself. You will bring something unique to our team. Never feel like you need to fill the shoes of those who came before you. Be flexible. Things aren’t always going to be smooth, but that is just going to make you stronger. And finally, our founder Jim taught me: “if it’s from the heart, it will be perfect.” I am confident your heart is what got you here, and I speak for the Everett Chapter when I say — welcome aboard! We can’t wait to meet you.