By Malcolm Bundy, Philadelphia Community Organizer
Starting in the fall of 2022, The Institute for Conservation Leadership (ICL) launched an exciting new pilot program for BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) professionals in the Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI) and other William Penn Foundation Watershed Protection Program Grantees. The program is a year-long cohort designed to help its members develop skills to enhance and advance their professional careers. I am very excited to be a part of this wonderful cohort!
Through a series of monthly workshops and discussions led by ICL staff, the 22 cohort members will work to develop strong network ties with other peer professionals. We will also explore our personal and professional strengths, learn how to create strong impact in our current work, and set goals for future pursuits through the lens of challenges that BIPOC staff encounter.
In order to balance professional development and networking opportunities, the monthly meetings alternate between workshops in which concepts are introduced and discussed, and networking sessions. For example, our first session was a workshop regarding elevator pitches: what are they? Why are they important? and how to craft an effective pitch? The networking sessions, however, are more focused on peer facilitated discussions. One session that I found particularly interesting was the discussion on resilience techniques and facing adversity.
The workshop topics for the year are broken down into 3 larger categories: Section 1: individual skill building, section 2: you in the workplace and your relationship to your current work, and section 3: long term goal setting and next steps for the future. Each session is co-led by ICL staff Pri Ekanayake and Joy Jackson. In order to create a more collaborative environment each session is designed more as a discussion rather than lecture. In every meeting we also have at least one breakout session in order to facilitate deeper conversations within a smaller group setting.
I’m very excited to work alongside other BIPOC professionals in the Delaware River watershed. Thank you to the Institute for Conservation Leadership for selecting me to be a part of this cohort! I look forward to developing new skills and networking with my fellow cohort members.