Nonprofit on the Rocks - Michele Broadnax

Season 3, Episode 7

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“[If someone tells me they want to be an executive director] my first question is ‘what is your why?’ Are you willing to set aside some of your own ambitions and really lead people from behind? … You really do have to learn to set yourself aside and some of your own agenda aside in order to allow for the collective to bring some of their work forward as well, because that is empowering. It's good for the mission; it's good for the organization. And then I think my advice would be: be prepared to learn what you were not expecting to have to learn.”

Matt talks to Michele Broadnax, CEO of the Los Angeles Education Partnership, a 38year-old educational equity nonprofit organization. primarily partnering with LAUSD, bringing forward education transformation from “diapers to diplomas.” 

The pair discuss the importance of being a good fundraiser, how to best support teachers and your colleagues during the pandemic, and how being a mediocre student doesn’t keep you from being successful.

Plus, Matt “Mattsplains” how to best use celebrities to advance your organization. 


Michelle Broadnax:

CORE, which is our acronym for our cultivating organizational resilience and empowerment, which is our trauma informed work that we bring forward with school site administrators and leaders, and all of that really comes together to shape educational trajectory and support equitable outcomes for all students, regardless of zip code.

Matt: 

So, you just use some terms that I think people don't understand. And so, if you would, in terms of CORE you said trauma informed, right? Can you explain what that means to our listener? 

Michelle Broadnax:

I will do my best. I am not an expert in trauma informed practice, but it’s the idea of understanding that both students and teachers have trauma that they contend with on a regular basis, particularly in schools that are low income schools or in communities that are typically or traditionally have been underserved.

And it's the awareness of that trauma when you're interacting with both a student and a student with a teacher that there are certain practices that you can bring forward that support that awareness and facilitate learning and growth. So, our trauma informed practice is really to make sure that teachers are bringing that awareness forward when they're in a classroom full of, let's just say, seven-year-olds who are maybe in a classroom for the first time since COVID, right, possibly? And that they're equipped to manage like what that means for a student on a day to day basis.

Matt: 

Thank you. Thank you. That trauma informed care is really important. And people talk about all the time and I don't think people necessarily know what that means.

How are we going to come out of COVID and get kids like back to pre COVID levels? Right? Like how are we going to fix what this is broken for the last two years?

Michelle

Yes. I think that is the question of the day. I, I sit in a number of meetings, statewide, local, you name it where that is, where we center ourselves as practitioners. How do we recover from this epic disruption? And, and I don't know that anyone has the answer for that, right? Like that is what the pandemic has done I think for all of us. It's like really brought us down to like exploring answers and doing that discovery together, and as it's unfolding, if you will. So, I think that we bring forward, obviously expertise in trauma informed practice, but we don't bring forward a tremendous amount of expertise in knowing what happens when students lose instructional hours for not just, you know, a semester but years at this point.

So, the learning loss; I don't have the answers for that. And I don't know that anyone does, but what we do know is that we have to connect, on a human level, with people and meet those basic needs that will allow for students to come back into a classroom, feeling seen, feeling cared for and feeling prepared to learn.

And that is, that is not what educators have traditionally been trained to do. They've been trained to teach and educate. They haven't been trained to necessarily behave from the perspective or from the position of a social worker. But I do believe those two concepts and ideologies are going to have to come together in some significant way in order to address this for this generation of students.

That's the best answer I have at the moment. And I think we're discovering it as, as time goes on for sure.





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