A Decade and Change. Leaving Urban Strategies Council

You read that right. After eleven and a half years, I’m moving on from the Council. Ever since I immigrated to the USA twelve years ago, I’ve been blessed with this job, my one and only paid job in this country.  I’m leaving with a heart full of sorrow and plenty of strange emotions, feelings of guilt, betrayal, selfishness in me making this decision and leaving an organization that has given me so much, and a team that is truly wonderful. The only thing I can compare this feeling to is that of breaking up with a long term partner. You heard me, it feels like that. This has been a special place for 30 years, and now it won’t be my home every work day, and it’s taking some time to process.

And then my new job starts sending me gear, making the whole thing feel very much like cheating.

But I do know it isn’t any of those things, I’m just so proud to have been part of this work, these fights for justice for so long, in a city I had no claim to, but now call home, my earthly spiritual home at least.  And now I’m moving to another nonprofit. something that had started to feel impossible, like there was no job I’d rather do than mine at the Council, but finally it happened, and after years of thinking Linkedin is a bit of a time suck with no real point, I stumbled across a job posting that led to the creation of me new role at my soon to be new home. Well, again, not real home, I’ll be working out of my actual home mostly, and that is special at this time of life with all those little blonde girls running around our home. So farewell commute for the most part too.

I’ve felt some bitterness growing about the Council over recent years, and I’m happy to be leaving before that grows too much, because the truth is, with all it’s failings and imperfections, I have learned so much here, and I’ve learned so many critical skills from our past CEO Junious Williams too.  The power of community, the important of people’s voices and their stories, how to be a solid facilitator, the need to speak truth to power and when to pull a punch if it makes strategic sense, and when to go after a mayor publicly and call bullshit on their bad planning and messed up data, oops. That was kinda fun, even if we didn’t really want to do it.

I’ve learned much about managing people, some by good examples, some by learning not what to mimic, and so much about design of data, apps, content and recently a ton about communication of both data and of stories.  I had the distinct pleasure of serving on the NNIP Executive Committee and being an active part of that awesome network, and got to travel to dozens of cities and make new friends across this country.  So while yes, I could make more in the private sector, the benefits and experiences here have been just invaluable.  It has really been a blessing.

Seeing people move on has always been hard for me, so I’m intimately aware of what I’m doing to others, but I still know it’s the right time to leave. My new work will be as the Data Evangelist for Measures for Justice, working to open up the myriad of criminal justice data across the country, and this seems like a perfect next step.  A hard next step too, this isn’t going to be easy, but I’m really excited to be part of their team now too.

So to all of you who have worked with and for me here, thank you so much, for listening, correcting, arguing, teaching and being part of this decade and change; to Anne G, Randolph, Eron, Anslem, Ofurhe, Andy, Junious, John G, Adrian, Calvin, Cindy, Linda, Jennifer, Rebecca, Miguel, Kathy P. Leah H, Hilary, and especially Nate, Sarah, Rania and Steve K.

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