WLC 2021: Meet the Leadership Team!

by Liz Sutton, HOBY New York East & WLC 1999; 2021 World Leadership Congress Chairperson

When I was announced as chair on a summer night in Chicago after WLC 2019, many things were different about the world. At that point, I assumed WLC 2020 and 2021 would unfold much as previous years had, with only incremental tweaks to keep improving on our strong foundation. As you all know, the changes that had to happen in 2020 were monumental, requiring heightened levels of flexibility, creativity, and trust in one another.

It likely comes as no surprise that it’s been strange to launch 2021 WLC planning in this time of uncertainty and anxiety. This year is certainly not beginning as I once expected. But what is unwavering is the care, commitment, and community of our HOBY volunteers. We do the work – even when we are not certain – because of our faith in our program and in our people. 

We are moving forward with a hybrid event for 2021 – we will definitely host virtual ambassadors and hope to host in-person ambassadors as health and safety guidelines allow. As always, we will connect, learn, and grow alongside ambassadors from around the US and the world. And we are diving into the work, just like HOBY folks do. So it’s time to introduce you to our leadership team!

Introducing the 2021 WLC Leadership Team:

I am thrilled to introduce the 2021 HOBY World Leadership Congress leadership team! Each of these vice chairs brings a unique skillset and perspective to the team and I can’t wait to see the experience we will create for our ambassadors and volunteers. Please say hello to:

  • Vice-Chair of Ambassador Staff: Melvin Thomas, Mid-Florida 2001
  • Vice-Chair of Design & Media: Ellen Renk, Illinois Central South & WLC 2010
  • Vice-Chair of Operations: Drew Granucci, Connecticut & WLC 2004 
  • Vice-Chair of Outreach & Recruitment: Jasmine Johns, Texas-Capital Area 2007 
  • Vice-Chair of Program: Shilpa Taneja, New York East & WLC 2010 
  • Assistant to the Chair: Jarrod Fucci, South Florida 2007

You’ll notice that some of the titles have changed, and accordingly, the descriptions have shifted as well. If you’d like to learn more about these changes, please review these slides.

Vice-Chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Vice-Chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion role is still open. I realize that the shift in title and job description were not widely communicated. I want to share more of my thought process behind the change so that our community can learn more about the role and see how we all can be involved in this work going forward.

This journey began with the creation of the vice-chair of inclusive wellness for WLC 2019 – it was a crucial first step in elevating inclusion in the WLC space. While the melding of ambassador care and inclusion made sense in a lot of ways, it has proven difficult to find a staff member who has mastery over both areas. It is also important to me that we explicitly and specifically have a position focused on DEI to the leadership team level. This will help ensure that we are collaborating across teams and are bringing attention and accountability to this area from the beginning of planning WLC 2021.

It has never been the intention for the VC of DEI to carry the burden alone or to be an expert in all areas of WLC – we know that this will not work. It is the responsibility of every team at WLC to work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for volunteers and ambassadors. This manifests differently in each WLC space, from recruiting and scholarships for underrepresented populations, to examining and changing WLC staff spaces to ensure that our black volunteers feel a sense of belonging, to carefully planning program elements so that ambassadors can show up authentically with their intersecting identities – the list goes on. This work belongs to the entire WLC volunteer team. The vice-chair of DE&I will help organize this work by pulling together volunteers in a cross-functional team and be serving in a consulting role for volunteers who have questions.

There will be an opportunity for all volunteers to participate in this work, whether it’s serving on the DEI committee, providing feedback on specific initiatives, engaging in training and discussion around these topics, or in other creative ways identified by staff. If you are interested in the vice-chair position, serving on the committee, or have suggestions, please reach out to me, Liz Sutton, WLC 2021 Chair, at chair@hobywlc.org

WLC 2021 – Volunteer Application Next Steps

Next week, we will launch the full WLC 2021 volunteer application. You’ll notice some changes to the application, including a greater focus on recruiting by WLC team rather than for specific positions. The leadership team will also host a few virtual events to share info and provide space for questions. The application will be posted on HOBY’s social media channels, and will be sent to all volunteers who’ve filled out this 2021 WLC volunteer interest form

Many of us have been called to question and deepen our understanding of leadership this year. As you hopefully plan to apply for WCL 2021, I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on your definition of leadership and how this shows up in all different aspects of our lives, especially when we are not in formal positions. As 2020 nears its close, take care of yourself, your family, your friends, and your HOBY community. Cheers to a brighter 2021!

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