According to my credentials, it was a questionable move. According to my God, it was the thing that was waiting on the other side of obedience.
At 33, I decided I would pursue a social mission and venture into nonprofit leadership. I was downtrodden and over-tethered by systemic racism and microaggressions. I needed to not only recharge, but hit the reset button.
I redefined my role and identity as a teacher/ creative scholar and did the thing that derails most tenure-track professors: I put everything into community service. I went from being self-absorbed in my field and focusing on the advancement of (1) to doing work for the greater good– advancing the opportunities of as many as possible.
At 35, (2) years into nonprofit leadership, I am close to having a sustainable organization that thrives on programs built around arts, culture, and innovation.
I’ve learned so many things about myself in laying the nonprofit’s groundwork. Like, I, for one:
- can’t take things personally.
- get nowhere clinging to fear or thinking I know everything.
- have to allow things to happen in their time.
- have to take chances and take on the hidden labor.
- can dream big, but I must have realistic expectations in the moment.
- don’t have to live in a big city in order to be successful. I can build my career in the town where my passion began.
- must ask for what I need.
I turned 35 on yesterday, May 4th. For my birthday, I created a week-long fundraiser on Facebook with a manageable goal of $135. We are blessed in that our goal has been met and EXCEEDED! You can continue to give through May 6th. We are currently planning our 2019 summer youth engagement activities. Money received from this fundraiser will help with travel expenses for teachers/field experts to come and engage with local youth who participate in our Creative Camp or Day of Dance. Donors will receive a formal thank you letter for tax purposes and their names will be published on our website. If you prefer to give in another way (i.e. your time, resources, or snacks/supplies for our summer youth camps), please reach out to me personally. Your seed will produce an instant harvest. ❤
Clinnesha is a writer, wife, mom, meta-artist, and social entrepreneur who feels most accountable to southern, black citizen-artists, elders, children, and families. Her work is at the intersection of arts, culture, innovation, and community.