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We checked in with our Chief Executives Forum facilitator, Liz Moulthrop to see how things are going!


Q: What’s been going well with the Chief Executives Forum so far?

A: So far we have had three sessions where we’ve discussed what it’s like being back in person during the ongoing pandemic, navigating student identity and power dynamics, and community centric fundraising. See below some of the main takeaways.

Return to In Person Learning: We are tired… We are overwhelmed… But we are happy to be together in person where our real work of community formation, social change, and music making can happen. Students (and adults) need an extra measure of grace and support right now.

Navigating Student Identity And Power Dynamics: Guest Facilitator Ashley Hare discussed the late Bell Hooks’ Margins to Center Theory and how power dynamics impact our programming. Everyone knows what it’s like be a child and experience “adultism.” There are many nuances to where we each stand in relation to power depending on our age, race, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, and so much more. Acknowledging and understanding these dynamics can help us connect with and understand our students better. As Ashley Hare shared, “Compassion comes from finding somewhere to relate to students.”

Community Centric Fundraising: Carol Minter, Development Director of Soundscapes, has taken the call to Community Centric and Equitable fundraising seriously. She facilitated a conversation around tangible solutions and ideas to rethink the traditional fundraising model so that we do not perpetuate harmful power structures and narratives. We tackled questions such as: Who are we accountable to? How do we tell the story of our program and students? Who gets to tell that story? Do we even need to tell individual stories? The best part of this session was hearing wonderful ideas that many programs are already implementing. See link to notes from the session and a list of ideas from the session here.

Q: What have you enjoyed about working with El Sistema USA this year?

A: The greatest resource for me is other people in the network. I often go into a session thinking I know a lot about a topic but walk away with ten more ideas about how to do something or approach something. In the spirit of community centric fundraising, the El Sistema USA Chief Exec community is extremely generous and open to sharing and supporting each other. We get together instead of competing to get ahead.

Q: What about the Chief Executives Forum are you looking forward to in the next six months?

A: In the next six months we will explore staff retention, board development, student leadership, and data collection. We will look at all these topics through the lens of community and equity. I’m looking forward to some great conversations and resource sharing.

If you are a top ranking administrator for your ESUSA member organization, click HERE to learn more about our next Chief Executives Forum!

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