Congratulations to the 16 graduates of the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute’s 8th cohort! On April 1st, 2021, we gathered virtually with BCLI fellows, their families, and community members to celebrate all they learned and accomplished in the past 7 months. These graduates join a community of 99 BCLI alumni.
The first all-virtual BCLI cohort, these fellows navigated the unique personal, local, national, and global challenges of the past 7 months with grace and determination. It was truly an honor to witness their dedication to community and justice, and to join them on their journey.
As is BCLI tradition, two graduating fellows, Shawn Sorrell and Stephannie Lewis, shared their personal experiences and biggest takeaways from the fellowship. For Shawn, he spoke on the different roles different people have in making change, and how wherever fellows show up, “we need to demand change or risk maintaining the status quo.” Stephannie Lewis emphasized the importance of reflection, and how central reflection is for effective and just governance—”to make sense of messy and confusing policymaking, reflection is not placating or appeasement, it is wisdom. It anchors us to our community and our why.”
Our keynote speaker, Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley, delivered a message about collective leadership, the importance of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and marginalized folks being at the table, and bringing their communities with them. She said,
“We’re living right now in a moment in our society where we have the possibility to reimagine and transform so much. I want to remember where you came from so you can always remember where you are going.”
As the first African American elected to the Hennepin County Board, Commissioner Conley knows how difficult it can be to navigate those spaces, and how much pressure there can be to fix things—“for real transformational change to occur, the onus is not on any one individual. It is our collective responsibility to lock arms and GET IT DONE!!!”
All the speakers expressed gratitude for the fellows and how much they learned over the course of the cohort. The evening ended with Terri and Chai honoring each graduating fellow. Celebration packages including certificates and original art by BCLI Alumnae PH Copeland on the way. We also want to give a HUGE thank you to Three Sisters Event Rentals for their tech support, event coordination, and courier services. Check them out here!
Nexus is truly humbled to be able to share space with such powerful people, and we thank the fellows, alumni, friends, family, and funders for making this happen.
*The Nexus Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) brings together Black people, indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC) and other community members who have been shut out of governing to support, train, and help place them on city, county, metro and state boards and commissions. Alumni of the program challenge current systems by bringing their full selves, their responsibility to their communities, and their distinctive cultural perspectives to these governing positions. Learn more here.