Silicon Valley Next officially launched in January with our first monthly retreat with the Fellows. Since then, we have also delivered our first executive coaching sessions with all of the Fellows. This month, we will be beginning peer coaching in addition.
The theme of the first retreat was “Sharing Our Selves” which is designed to begin building the cohort with the necessary foundation of trust and vulnerability that will be essential to their ongoing learning for the year. One key activity involved every Fellow bringing and sharing with everyone a food dish that conveyed something meaningful about their lives, and then narrating the meaning. The result was a powerful sense of connection, both to each other and also to our pasts. In the food and the stories, we were drawn into the Vietnamese boat people experience, the UFW protests, what it meant to be Jewish in this country, being raised by single moms, and other narratives that explain why these Fellows are who they are. And we also ate really, really well!
The impact of being brought into a peer cohort has been immediate. Below are some quotes from Fellows as they reflected on the first retreat.
“This morning’s session was fantastic. Thank you for providing me that space to reflect… it’s something I rarely do in the day-to-day hustle of my work and I was surprised how fast the time flew by. I left with a lot of inspiration to focus on the aspects of my work that are close to my heart, and am excited to take some of the action steps we discussed to realize those ideals.”
“It is helpful to understand that I am not alone in my feelings and professional fears. I like feeling relaxed and grounded and can access those feelings when I need them.”
“I left feeling super rejuvenated and inspired. Starting out with the food activity was different and created super strong connections from the start. We got deep quick. To do that with peers who want to make our sector better was inspiring.”
“The first session was so awesome! I’m working on creating something similar for some of the new managers at my organization to build connection and warmth. I incorporated some of the what I learned around empathy and speaking from the “I” perspective, into our monthly PD and it worked really well.”
“Since our first meeting, I have felt like there was a space and place for me at that leadership table. I can see myself more in senior management. I am speaking up more and not waiting for people above me to talk first. If I have something to say I am saying it and people are responding positively.”
“The part that’s struck the deepest is me is that I can see myself developing into a skilled manager. I hadn’t seen myself in that light before SVN. I have been flying by seat of pants, and trying to replicate what I’ve seen from my own manager, but now I am really excited to see myself develop and think about my future in nonprofit work as a manager.”