Last week I attended the graduation ceremony of our Immigrant Civic Leadership Program and was reminded first hand of Coro’s impact. Even though I was meeting our newest alumni for the first time, I immediately recognized their sense of purpose, stories of growth, and strong bonds with one another from my own experience as a Coro Fellow more than 25 years ago and many conversations with all of you.
I needed that inspiration because, like many of you, I have been demoralized by so much that I have seen and heard in recent months. The harshness of the political dialogue, the rise in fake news, the widespread mistrust of our leaders, the decline of shared purpose, the deep divisions in our country- all feel like deep challenges to our democracy.
The Board and I have been talking a lot about Coro’s role at this moment- and I know many of you have as well. As part of that conversation, we are reflecting on what prompted Coro’s creation in 1947 in California. At the time, Coro’s founders were concerned about the future of democracy and if it could withstand the forces abroad that had just ravaged Europe and Asia in World War II. Their response was to build a training program that prepared our leaders to move our country forward in diverse, complicated political environments. As an alum, you have experienced this training firsthand. The skills you learned at Coro: listening and observing carefully; asking effective questions; harnessing a range of perspectives to generate the strongest solutions; managing through ambiguity; and building cross-sector collaborations are the exact ones that seem to be in the shortest supply at this moment. These are the skills of leadership and they are critical to a vibrant democracy.
What can Coro do to share its strengths at this point in history? The first is to do what we have always done- create amazing, thoughtful, strategic, ethical leaders in the most diverse city in the world. And then support you to tackle our country’s toughest problems. In the coming weeks, we will launch a monthly drop-in series, Civic Changemakers, spotlighting ways to spark and sustain greater civic action and support one another in our changemaking work. Initial topics include running for political office, high-impact community engagement strategies, and tactics for working in coalitions — but this is designed to be a forum for your projects and interests so we look forward to hearing what you would like to explore. Please offer your thoughts and ideas here.
Join us to build on Coro’s founding purpose to create a stronger democracy. We are now 2,500 alumni strong and can do a lot of good in New York and beyond, especially if we do it together.
Andrew Kimball (Fellows 1990)
CEO Industry City
Coro Board Chair