We recently held our 6th Annual Power of Voice benefit in California and were honored to have Salesforce.org Chief Engagement Officer Cristina Jones as one of our honorees. Cristina inspired us with her presence, her strong community of friends and family, and the clarity of her vision of what voice and leadership means to her.
Here are three things we learned about leadership from Cristina:
1. WE ARE ALL ACTION LEADERS
“There is no barrier to entry for making a situation better simply by your presence. We can all do that, starting today. We can all impact our communities in a positive way, no matter how big or small, by simply using the power of our voice to SAY something that then inspires us and others to DO something, effectively turning thought leadership into action leadership.”
This message is incredibly important for our girls, especially girls of color, who are growing up in a world that isn’t yet telling them that they are leaders. Too many young people are taught that leadership comes from having a title (like president of the class or captain of the team), from being a certain age, or from acting in a certain way that yields control over others. Cristina reminded us that if we are making a situation better, whether it is with our family, during our school lunch, or with our community, we are leading.
2. OUR AUTHENTIC VOICES ARE POWERFUL
“When women whisper, when women and girls speak, when women and girls shout and everything in between, change happens. It may not be overnight, but it happens… It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood that not only did I have something to say, but that people wanted to hear it. I also learned that I did not have to be something that I was not, and I did not only have to be only one thing.”
These words are an anchor for all of us, but especially for girls who are taught that they need to look and or act a certain way in order to fit in and be deemed worthy in our culture. Cristina’s words and her presence reminded us that our most powerful leadership comes from being true to ourselves, and vulnerable with others — values that go directly against the cultural norm that tells girls they need to be polite, pretty, and perfect to be “a good girl.”
3. OUR VOICE IS ALWAYS EVOLVING
“I hope what you understand is, you never stop finding your voice. Your voice, it evolves with you. But what you choose to do with it, that’s up to you… I want you to show up as your authentic self professionally and personally. I want you to take up space, I want you to be kind, and I want you to be the architect of your destiny. And as you succeed, I hope you too will create space for others to benefit from the power and the influence of your voice.”
This idea of always being in process is such a relief, especially to those of us who might ruminate on our mistakes, or girls who believe their value is in their GPA, their athletic achievement, or lack of mistakes. Cristina gave us the gift of not being alone in our leadership journey. This idea is central to why Girls Leadership is so committed to impacting the adults in girls’ lives. Coming into the power of our voices is an opportunity that awaits all of us, not a burden to be placed on the shoulders of our girls alone. If we join the girls in being architects of our own destinies, together we as parents, teachers, and program providers have the greatest chance of continuing to find the power of our voices.
If you are interested in using the power of your voice to ensure every girl can access her own, please reach out to our Senior Development Director Catherine Stahl at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donors, ambassadors, board members, and corporate sponsors, like Salesforce.org, all make our work possible.