By Dianne Guerrier – 23 years old, from Orlando, FL serving as a corps member on The Timberland Team at McDonough Elementary School.
“The thing that not only starts your leadership but develops it, is putting it into practice.” –Stephen Spaloss
City Year is devoted to the development of its corps members and for this reason we are given numerous opportunities to expand our skill set and leadership abilities. One opportunity that is unique to the New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Boston City Year sites is the annual New England Leadership Academy (NELA). NELA is a three-day leadership conference held in Boston at City Year’s national headquarters that is devoted to the development of potential leaders within City Year. However, due to limited availability of space, only a select number of corps members from each site are able to attend. In December, I had the privilege of taking part of NELA and it was perhaps one of the best experiences that I could have encountered.
“You have the ability to make a difference. The key is to be very clear about what you’re trying to do and how you’re going to do it. You can’t make a difference if you don’t step up.” –Dr. Max Klau
Not only did I have the opportunity to connect with corps members from the Rhode Island and Boston sites, I also had the privilege of hearing from a number of great people within City Year. Dr. Max Klau spoke about adaptive leadership and this was perhaps one of the two most influential parts of my time at NELA. Through this workshop, I learned that everyone has the ability to be a leader, the key is learning when you need to step up and lead. A good leader not only mobilizes and advances a group but also pushes others into leadership.
“When you’re leading people you must be approachable and sometimes that means adapting your style. You must learn to be a situational leader, meaning you must be the leader that your people need you to be in every situation.” – Stephen Spaloss, Regional Vice President of City Year
The second of the two most influential components of my experience at NELA was hearing Stephen Spaloss speak about “Leadership and Impact”. Through this session, I learned that the four key cornerstones to being a great leader are 1) integrity, 2) energy, inspiration, & action, 3) humility and 4) high expectations with high individual support. While these four cornerstones are not all-encompassing, they are vital aspects of leadership. With these four cornerstones, great leadership is sure to follow.
The New England Leadership Academy was a great experience for me simply because it not only revitalized me in my service, but it also reaffirmed my abilities as a leader. I am extremely grateful to have been one of many corps members from our site with the opportunity to take part in such an amazing conference.
“N.E.L.A. was a re-invigorating and eye-opening look into the dimensions of leadership. Taking in a great deal of inspiration from speakers such as Michael Brown and Stephen Spaloss definitely gave me the necessary perspective and motivation to energize our teams.” – Neal Hunter, 20, from Eden, NY, serving at Parker-Varney Elementary School
“A great leader is not defined by the amount of words spoken but by the power of their listening and personal relationships with the group.” – Chris Mancuso, 23, from Rochester, NY, serving at McDonough Elementary School
“I learned that there are so many components to being a great leader, but the first and arguably most important component is understanding what type of leader you want to be. Inspiring, powerful, and passionate are the three words I’d use to describe my experience at NELA because I’ve never felt so empowered/motivated upon leaving an event as I did upon leaving NELA.” – Joshua Merritt, 23, from San Francisco, CA, serving at Gossler Park Elementary School