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  • Ena Yasuhara Li, VP of Community Impact, UWBA

My Name Is I Stand For: Being Principle Game-changer through My Compassionate and Courageous Heart

My name is I stand for

Equity, dignity, compassion for all human beings

These universal beliefs transcend fears and griefs

From rapist to human trafficker to policy maker to social worker

We all stand

My name is I stand for

Courage, well-being, full potential for myself and all others

Speaking powerfully as a leader to shift societal norms

From radical meetings to everyday actions in order to transform

The ordinary into the extraordinary

My name is I stand for

Fairness, wellness, respect for everyone, near and dear

Acting not in the absence of fear but despite fear

Not doing different things but doing things differently

Shifting from speaking about equity

To being equity

My name is I stand for

Liberation, opportunity, possibility for all beings and nature

What we deeply care about for all of humanity

Can be achieved in our reality

By making the invisible visible

Fighting to not become divisible

Because we can all create spaces of mutual respect

By turning breakdowns into breakthroughs we can all suspect

That what we put our energy to will grow

That we understand what we know and don’t know

We can win and learn

And realize that we all burn

For equity, dignity, and compassion for all human beings

My name is Ena

And I stand for equity, respect, and love for myself and all others

What is your name?

What do you stand for?

This is the poem I wrote after completing a transformative, nine-day leadership training put on by Rise Together: Leadership for Equity and Opportunity (LEO).

And transformative it was.

For one, it transformed my thinking about values and who has them. Everyone. When Monica Sharma, the facilitator of the workshop, said that human traffickers and rapists also have values, I thought to myself, WHAT? No! What do you mean they have values when they are hurting other human beings? Monica kept coming back to the idea of core values. Everyone has them, and we have to start by connecting with these values – or else change is difficult to achieve.

The training also shifted my thinking about the work that I do. As an evaluator and funder, I often think about outcomes and impact – and it’s certainly about impact, but it has to begin with core values around equity, dignity, and respect for all human beings.

Lastly, it made me realize that this work is about the heart. In Japanese I would describe that this training left me 心強い – kokorozuyoi, or encouraged. The first character means heart. The second part means strong. My heart definitely feels stronger.

Sure, we covered useful tools, learned how to run meetings, filled out logic models, and discussed stages of leadership – but more than that, I learned to get in touch with my core values, that I am the change, I can design the change, and lead the change – not only with my mind, but most of all, with my heart.

So what does your heart say?

What is your name, and what do you stand for?

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