by Poonam Dreyfus-Pai, Senior Manager of Network Building and Engagement
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships: who we are within them, how they shape our growth, our work, and our connection to community. This is partially because I am recently part of a new one - in March, my partner and I welcomed our baby, Anaya Dreyfus-Pai. As she’s grown from squishy newborn to an alert infant with distinct needs and wants, my relationships to her, my partner, my family, and my community continue to evolve. Her presence has required us to re-assess our roles, our expectations, the ways in which we communicate, and the things that we need from each other to stay healthy and happy.
Before I left for maternity leave, my role at CoreAlign also changed -- I transitioned from fellowship manager to senior manager of network building and engagement. The fellowship programs gave me the unique privilege of working with the reproductive movement’s boldest and brightest leaders, and coaching each of them toward solving some of the most entrenched problems of the movement. And now that there are nearly 200 alumni, we have the unique opportunity to more thoughtfully connect them to one another and to others in the field doing necessary and challenging work.
CoreAlign spends a lot of time talking about innovation and collaboration. Over the past 4.5 years, we’ve gotten clearer about how innovation methodologies such as design thinking can be molded for use in social change and social justice settings. We have worked with folks in a variety of settings to practice taking risks and experimenting with new ideas in service of creating the world they want.
We have also learned that innovation requires bringing together a diversity of people and perspectives, and creating the conditions for people to work together, across those differences, towards a common vision. Truly innovative ideas and work happen within relationships, not outside of them. So we need more spaces and activities that will allow leaders to collaborate: to try on new mindsets, to practice new ways of working together, to bring in new communities, and to develop and strengthen their relationships so they can work together to achieve their visions for the future.
I’m happy to say that some of our newer program offerings - the Innovation Labs and Innovation Convening -- fit squarely under that purpose. As the program manager for these offerings and others, I am excited to see what can be generated when folks cultivate new, trusting, and generous relationships that can hold the complexities of experimentation, failure, and risk-taking. And I look forward to finding out what epic success can look like for the movement as our relationships grow and flourish.
If your curiosity is piqued by all this talk of connectivity and collaboration, consider applying for the Innovation Labs: the application for our second round of labs opens on September 1!