Have A Great Weekend!

Congratulations to Karasser Dr. Kristen Honey who was named the Director of Innovation at the Institute of Education. Pictured here with CtK Board Advisor Megan Smith.

Congratulations to CtK.Campfire Alum Katie Cahill on her new position as Healthy Appalachia Study at Howard H. Baker Jr., Center for Public Policy!

Congratulations to CtK.Campfire Alum Jose Antonio Vargas whose namesake elementary school opened today!

Sarah Hunt quoted extensively in the NYT on climate change. Read what she has to say: Three Things You Can Do: Shop, Share and Donate. And take a look at Rainey Center’s upcoming partnership to produce the inaugural Policy Colloquium.

CtK.Campfire Alum Maria Town was featured on Pod for the Cause. Disability Rights are Civil Rights. Listen in!

And take a look at the latest data from Pew Research Center. It interrogates how our conversations on social media make us feel - and our propensity to talk to people who disagree with us.

“The new survey also finds that users generally do not find common ground with others during online discussions about politics. Two-thirds of users (67%) say that discussing politics on social media with people they disagree with usually leads them to find out they have “less in common politically” than they expected. About a quarter (26%) report finding out they have “more in common” than previously thought. These shares are statistically unchanged from 2016.”

We want to know what you think. Weigh in!

Have A Great Weekend!

This week, we watched Mueller speak to Congress and have been thinking about a few themes ever since. First and foremost, that our politics have become theater. We’re not so naive as to think that this hasn’t always been the case. We’re just struck by all the “think pieces” on the “optics” of the Mueller hearing and how incredible shallow and short-sighted they are. (We’re looking at you, Chuck Todd.)

The TLDR; version of this is so cynical - more cynical than we like to be - and goes like this: It’s all about appearance, not about substance. Our own Sarah Longwell probably put it best:

Shorter: Truth doesn’t matter.

And, yet, it does. We know that it does. You know that it does. We know that there are patriots everywhere. That you are patriots. That, daily, you are defending democracy and reaching across the aisle and showing yourself to be Loyal Antagonists. We know that a vigorous bipartisan defense of the Republic is possible. And we thank you for continuing to do this work. Stay out there. And stay loud.

Goings on from around the Karass:

Charles Moran is tracking the Log Cabin Republicans as they support the effort to ban the criminalization of homosexuality.

Evan McMullin reminds us that leadership is hard work. It demands that you stand up at exactly the moment you might most want to sit down.

In view of the renewed scrutiny on Russian interference in elections, Rainey Center reupped their report about Russian misinformation attacks in dating apps.

Emily Holden, writing for The Guardian, published on climate change and the administration’s attempts to muzzle science.

Sarah Hunt reminds us why it is essential to have diversity in politics.

Maria Town brought attention to the importance of #DisabilitySolidarity and racism & bias within the disability rights movement.

Cori Zarek and the Beeck Center at Georgetown hosted the Coding It Forward Summit.

And Sara Holoubek introduced a crowdsourced list of experts working at the intersection of tech, ethics, health, equity, and the social determinants of health.

Happy reading and have a great weekend!

CtK's Brand of Leadership

We want to talk a little bit about Teri Kanefield’s perspective here and what it means for our work and our nation’s democracy:

This is what the work of Cultivate the Karass is all about: Training leaders who can handle the big, complex problems that we continue to face in our democracy and our world.

Why is this so important? Because the environment we now work within is Volatile, Uncertain Complex/Chaotic, and Ambiguous. In the leadership development field, we call it VUCA for short. The world has become a VUCA world. For those leaders who gain strength and risk taking capability through certainty, the question becomes: How to move through the world with volatility, uncertainty, chaos, complexity, and ambiguity? As Teri Kanefield points out, paraphrasing other scholars whose research has also proven it, authoritarians loathe complexity.

This is where leadership in the midst of complexity - the very core of our CtK mission - is essential democracy-building work.

Each time we host a Campfire to welcome a new cohort of Fellows, there is amazement that CtK can foster dialogue between conservatives and liberals. But we know that these leaders are all patriots, all people with the same agenda – how to foster the great democratic experiment that is the United States of America – and all people who can manage the complexity required to move our nation forward.

Because of how CtK selects, models, and teaches leadership, there is no room for authoritarian impulses. (So much so that we never really considered that was the ideological position never present in the room.) Any aversion to complexity is an automatic disqualifier for our brand of leadership.

And our brand of leadership is what the world needs right now. There is so much to gain from the complexity of our democratic experiment – and from the leadership experiment that CtK is conducting.

Pew Research on Political Labels

Pew Research Center took a look at how people feel about political labels that have obtained ubiquity in our current discourse. The survey, conducted April 29-May 13, 2019, also asked adults about their impressions of several other terms: “libertarian,” “progressive,” “liberal” and “conservative.”

  • Americans have generally positive views of other political terms asked about in the survey, though these views also differ along partisan lines.

  • Majorities have positive impressions of “progressive” (66%), “conservative” (60%), “liberal” (55%) and “libertarian” (also 55%).

  • Overall, Democrats hold more positive views of the term “conservative” than Republicans do of “liberal.” Nearly four-in-ten Democrats (38%) say they view “conservative” positively compared with fewer than a quarter of Republicans who view “liberal” in the same light.


CtK Jake's Retreat 2019!

The 3rd CtK Jake's Retreat is slated for October 5-6, 2019 in Washington D.C. We only do this retreat every other year. It's an opportunity for networking, skill share sessions, Ignite Talks, deep dive conversations, and regenerating bonds of affection with amazing colleagues. Join us!

Get yourself registered and get a big discount!  In honor of the 4th of July holiday, we're offering a limited number of $100 discounts. Get one before they're all gone!

Offer expires Monday, July 8, 2019.

Contact Loretta Yenson

What I Want My Granddaughters to Remember About Independence Day


 Craig and I have our granddaughters with us for the holiday. Mindful of this, I've been asking myself the question: What do I want my granddaughters to remember about the 4th of July with grandma and grandpa? 

First and foremost: I want them to love America.

For us, as for so many people, the 4th is a day focused on family. I want my granddaughters to know that, like family, loving America can sometimes be complicated. Democracy was in the beginning, is now, and will likely always be a fragile experiment. It is our responsibility – as citizens born into the privilege of democracy – to work to protect that fragile concept. This work is not always easy, the path forward is not always clear, and what it means to be a patriot can seem to shift, even if it never truly does.

There is a legacy of unspeakable bravery and courage handed us this opportunity today, and we are all part of this picture. So it is up to us to challenge ourselves to be as brave and courageous – through uncertainty and fear – in order to contribute to the continuation of this amazing experiment. I want them to see themselves as courageous and brave. I want them to know that they are up to the task.

I also want them to have and remember simple things: like the feeling of genuine awe at what lights up the sky or the the collective energy that comes from whole communities celebrating an ideal. Somehow, in their powerful mystery, they become the reminder of what freedom means.

I want them to know that it is up to us, all of us, together.

I want them to think of family. I want them to love America.

The Latest from CtK Fellows & Alumni 

Ashley Spillane's smart research on civic engagement and what the private sector can do attracted a room full of luminaries and was (predictably) SRO. Read her work here!

The Rainey Center celebrated it's 1st Birthday! Congratulations to Alums Sarah Hunt, Bishop Garrison, Charles Moran, and Josh Hone. Check out the photos from the event, the CtK family was out in full force!

Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary School had its official ground breaking ceremony.

Emmy Ruiz, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, and Jenn Brown saw their candidates take the stage on Wednesday and Thursday for the two-night Democratic Debate.

Katie Bethell writing in Evoke, interviewed in Salon, and retweeted by Supermajority as the push for paid leave by her great org, Paid Leave + US, heats up.

We know you're out there doing great democracy building work. Send us a note and let us know what you're up to so we can highlight your accomplishments!

The Gift of Fallow Time

The gift of time set apart. To slow the pace and turn off the constant disruption. To practice the art of reflecting, listening, and connecting with what is possible. To lead from within.

I spent three days this past week leading a group of twenty-four global managers who are on the rise within their organization. Talented, ambitious, smart - and eager for the tips and techniques that will catapult them into an assured sequence of promotions and success.

In other words, a typical professional group.

On the final day of the workshop, each participant prepares, rehearses, and presents a story. The stories are a mere three minutes and incredibly compelling. The common thread that connected them was the theme of authenticity - of coming to a fuller version of themselves and the importance of “bringing in our heart as well as our mind.”

Their words.

They voiced what it was like for them inside to move from a fear of becoming unmoored if they weren’t constantly tethered to real and imagined timelines, and the thought of being cast adrift by their company. That’s what immediately popped up. And then they tasted the liberation, short-lived though it was, of becoming vulnerable and opening themselves to important conversations. Conversations of substance, with each other, and mostly with themselves.

This may not seem like much of an insight until you’re in the midst of all twenty-four of them. You feel the veil lift and the energy shift as they see themselves and one another as whole people. They voiced surprise and delight in the insights they heard emerging from themselves and from their peers. 

And in the debrief, they agreed that what had allowed the transformation was time set aside from deadlines and the obligations that accompany our work. They recognized how stepping back and slowing the usual 24/7 activity had allowed them, in two-and-a-half-days, to gain important insights. For some, it was genuinely life-shifting.  

“We need to rest, to read, to reconnect. It is the invisible labor that makes creative life possible,” Bonnie Tsui writes. “Fallow time is part of the work cycle, not outside of it.”

An age-old truth, ripe for a current-day renaissance.

Have A Great Weekend!

If you’re like us, you’re watching (and enjoying) the US Women’s National Soccer Team putting on a clinic in the opening round of the Women’s World Cup. Maybe you’re also enjoying the spate of articles that their consistently stellar performance and consistently unequal pay have spurred on equal pay, women in sports, lingering stereotypes about women, and how much representation in leadership matters. Check them out here, here, and here.

New work and an upcoming panel from Ashley Spillane:

Harvard June 27 Invite.jpg

Bishop Garrison & Sarah Hunt speaking this week at the 9th Annual Breakthrough Institute

Nick Troiano recently featured on How Do We Fix It? talking about Country Over Party. As Executive Director of Unite America, Nick is a leading voice of the reform movement. "We are caught in a democracy that is spiraling in a very negative direction and the question before us is how do we break that.” Among his solutions:

  • End gerrymandering. Independent commissions, not partisan legislators, would decide the shape Congressional districts.

  • Ranked-choice voting. Instead of choosing just one candidate, voters would have the option of ranking candidates according to their preference.

  • Reform primary rules, and allow independents to vote in party primaries.

  • Campaign finance reform. Allow small donors to have more influence at the expense shadowy "dark money" special interest groups.

  • Encourage support for The Problem Solvers Caucus and other bipartisan coalitions in Congress and state legislatures.

  • Voting reform. Expand polling hours, and legalize early and at-home voting. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy

Jeff Buenrostro and Lori Brewer Collins co-facilitating CtK.Leadership Academy’s 1-Day Accelerator. Space is extremely limited. Register now!

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