85,721.5 miles—this is approximately how far the 34 2019 Echoing Green Fellows collectively traveled for their New Fellows Retreat in New York this month. Although these Fellows came from nine countries around the world and are working on a diverse set of social justice initiatives—from the use of film and multimedia as a platform for voices of incarcerated people, to mobilizing communities to share data about climate change impacts, to empowering Latin American communities to shape urban development—this class was able to share, empathize, and learn in a way that built community well beyond this retreat.
Echoing Green’s annual New Fellows Retreat is an opportunity for new Fellows’ paths to converge in a week of communion and genuine fellowship. Fellows have the space to anchor their community in shared commitment to bold change. Fellows reflect on their own leadership and start to lean on one another and Echoing Green for support in their development.
The Echoing Green team and advisors served as thought partners and facilitated workshops and discussions tailored to the social entrepreneurship experience. Fellows also began accessing the Fellow Support team’s suite of resources for their organizations, including recommendations and nominations for other opportunities, connections to advisors and professional service partners, and a number of toolkits in fundraising, advisory boards, and more.
Alumni Fellows imparted leadership insights to new Fellows, too. We were fortunate to be joined by Lauren Burke ’14, Eric Dawson ’96, Rebecca Hui ’16, Keno Sadler ’97, Ben Smilowitz ’08, Paul VanDeCarr ’95, Tony Weaver, Jr. ’16, and Zoe Wong ’16. These Alumni demonstrated how their sustained relationship with Echoing Green amplifies lifelong social impact.
The New Fellows Retreat initiated conversations on building a community that can travel great distances together. As Fellows, Alumni, staff, and advisors spoke, bold ideas were sparking and growing beyond the retreat. Continue reading for three themes and takeaways below.
1. Meaningful solutions are often rooted in lived experiences.
“Our work is a mandate for us. It is a culmination of both life and community experiences that led us here and determine how we show up in our communities.”
Raymond Winans ’19, Paul VanDeCarr ’95, and Tolulope Sonuyi ’19 during a workshop at NFR.
2. Relationships are often an entrepreneur’s most valuable asset.
“We need to create economies of collaboration to compete with economies of scale.”
Daniel Brown ’19, Julie Blumreiter ’19, Michael Robinson ’19, and Cielo María Holguín Ramirez ’19 during a workshop at NFR.
3. Vulnerability makes leaders stronger.
“As a role model for girls who’s usually called strong or formidable, I know that by being vulnerable we can teach them to trust us, open up, and get the help that they need.”
Sarah Strader ’19, Echoing Green Chaplain Shaundra Cunningham, Austin Martin ’19, Tanay Tatum-Edwards ’19, Julie Blumreiter ’19, Daniel Gathigai ’19, Delphine Konda ’19, Arthur Woniala ’19, Philip Kao ’19, and Halim Flowers ’19 during our “Echoing Green Olympics.”
We look forward to positive social change the 2019 Fellows have yet to make, along with continued discussions and learning opportunities with the Echoing Green Fellowship community.