March 23, 2020
Dear Coro Community,
Enough words have been written in recent days about the current situation we find ourselves navigating. I want to share how we are moving forward here at Coro. As an organization that brings people together for group leadership experiences, our entire program model has been upended. Yet we are focusing on opportunities to innovate and support our city and communities as we collectively navigate this disruption. I have already seen several promising examples this week that make me hopeful.
Here is the WIGO, one week in:
- Coro staff are all OK. Like many of you, we have been working from home all week and experimenting with new tools and practices to stay connected with each other and with you. The entire Coro team has worked very hard to quickly adapt to our new reality, and I have been inspired by their commitment and creativity.
- We continue to run our current programs. Right now, the Coro Fellows Program, Leadership New York, Participatory Budgeting Youth Fellowship, and Neighborhood Leadership are all in session. After much thought and input from our participants, we have decided to keep our programs going, shifting all activities virtually. Our participants told us this is what they want to do not just for the leadership tools, but also to maintain the community of their cohort. We have already had two successful experiments: We held an all-virtual Fellows Selection Day for 75 judges and candidates last week. It was a remarkable accomplishment, designed in just 72 hours, and an inspiring example of how Coro training could be translated online. Similarly, the Infrastructure and Environment Team designed and executed our first virtual Leadership New York Issue Day with great success.
- We want to support our alumni community. We have spoken with several alumni this week, and they all expressed how much they value community at this moment — to share resources, to ask for help, to partner together, or simply to see familiar faces in our suddenly isolated world. This week, Program Directors will reach out to their respective alumni groups to schedule Community Check-ins to discuss ways we can be helpful to one another right now. Look for an announcement from Elaine, Garrett, Maya, or Francesco shortly. Coro Partners is also developing some virtual training options for remote teams.
- We are still recruiting for the next Leadership New York, Immigrant Civic Leadership Program, and Workforce Systems Leadership Program cohorts. Application deadlines will be extended and programming will be virtual until it becomes safe to once again meet in person. Participants come to Coro because they have a vision for a better New York, and right now the city really needs more Coro alumni. Key decision-makers and leaders throughout New York City will need new tools, skills, and a supportive network to navigate the myriad challenges to come in the wake of COVID-19’s impact on their organizations and communities, and we know our programs are perfectly positioned to meet those needs. Alumni referrals are always our largest source of candidates, so we need your support to help your colleagues understand the value of Coro’s programs, especially at this time. Look for program-specific recruitment announcements in the coming weeks.
- We still intend to have a gala. I hope you agree that bringing the Coro community together to connect is of vital importance. Look for an update in the coming weeks about a virtual gathering later this spring.
- The Coro community is a resource. You may be home, but you are not alone! I see many cohorts are organizing virtual happy hours and peer consultancies through their Google groups (which remain active). The Coro Commons is a great tool to connect with alumni with specific areas of expertise or put out asks to the community. If you are not already a member you can sign up easily here. We have started a Member group in the Commons for alumni to share their Asks and Offers for leading their organizations at this moment.
This pandemic is the ultimate adaptive challenge, and we will need to develop new strategies and abilities to successfully exercise leadership in this environment. I want to remind you that whatever situation you might be facing in the coming weeks, you have a great set of leadership tools and a community of alumni to help. We don’t know where this journey will take us but Coro will continue to be your partner along the way. Please know that I am grateful to all of you who are leading — and inspiring leadership— at this difficult time.
Scott Millstein, Executive Director