Words from Our Executive Director

Dear BK Foundation Community,

Berrett-Koehler Foundation is in the midst of a transition. I am writing this message to invite you into our process, and most of all, to express my gratitude. After three formative years with BKF – including two years as its Executive Director – I will be leaving my role at the end of the summer. I wish I could take your hands and bow to you, but for now this message will have to suffice. Serving this community has been my deepest honor.

I joined BKF in 2014 for a three month contract to cover for Marielle Amrhein, our former ED who was going on maternity leave after the birth of her first baby. At the time I thought I was “just passing through” California, but I quickly fell in love with this organization. As a young person setting out to apply all my systems-changing ideas to the “real” world, I found tremendous hope in BK – I realized I wasn’t alone. Over the years all of you – BK authors, staff, board members, colleagues in the field, program participants and volunteers –  have helped me grow into my own leadership. Every cup of coffee we’ve shared, every survey you’ve filled out, every Leadership Exchange you’ve attended, have all been essential in co-creating the Berrett-Koehler Foundation. During this time I also experienced the heartbreaking loss of two Berrett-Koehler Foundation Board Members: Jamie Showkeir passed away several months after I joined BKF, and we lost Mila Baker only one month ago. Even as I type this letter, I can hear Mila chuckling and reminding me to trust my instincts.

The Foundation has been using this transition as an opportunity to reflect on our past four years of existence and to create a fresh vision of where we want to go next. In true BK fashion, we are exploring a non-traditional approach to filling my role. Tuquynh Tran, our Operations Coordinator, will also be leaving her role to pursue her work as a coach and facilitator (see Tuquynh’s note below). The Board of Directors will be sharing the outcome of our strategic planning process in the weeks ahead. One sneak peek: We are exploring a new low-staff model and will be seeking two part-time positions — an administrative coordinator and a community outreach coordinator. Stay tuned for those job postings – perhaps BKF is looking for you!

The Foundation is in excellent hands. Our nine-person Board includes BK authors, nonprofit and social innovation leaders, and BKF program alumni. We have built a diverse, committed community of emerging changemakers through our programs—the intergenerational Leadership Exchanges, the Experiential Exchange mentorship program, and a wide variety of community events. Our partnerships with mission-aligned organizations are strong, both in Oakland and around the country. I plan to stay deeply connected to BKF. Though the form of my connection is changing, the connection itself remains strong.

As for where I am headed next — that is still unwritten. For now I am focused on tending to the healthy transitioning of my role at BKF. I will continue supporting work that heals organizations, institutional systems, and interpersonal relationships. I plan to build my practice as a group facilitator and social justice advocate focusing on community, spiritual activism, and creative expression. I also plan on spending a lot of time giving back to the communities that have supported me over the past three years. Finally, I hope to maintain the dear relationships I’ve built throughout my time at BK Foundation. Let’s continue to connect please!

Two years ago I wrote a blog post that described parts of my journey leading up to BKF. The words I wrote then still ring true to me: “At times I think of BKF as a beloved sister—we are growing up together, sharing ideas and looking out at the world from our different but connected eyes. Usually I think of BKF as a promise—a love letter to our Earth’s people to stay in the game and keep our eyes on the prize – a world that works for all.”

Here’s to that vision of a world that works for all, and our many paths towards reaching it.

In Community,

Annie-Rose London

New Local Voices from our “Co-Creating Community” Leadership Exchange

We just wrapped up another powerful intergenerational Leadership Exchange in Oakland on May 20th, 2017! Based on the theme “Co-Creating Community For These Times,” this day-long event gathered 36 local change-makers. In this blog we feature two of emerging leaders who made it happen – Daisy Ozim, one of the participants who was joining BKF for the first time, and Kristian Astre, a member of the stelar Design Team who facilitated the day. Perhaps no other group embodies collaboration as deeply as the Design Team – all volunteer, intergenerational, diverse, and mutually committed to creating something beautiful together. This team managed to build trust, appreciation, and creative agility in the short time between their first meeting in April to Leadership Exchange in May.

Check out with Daisy and Kristian had to say below!

Voice from a Participant: Daisy Ozim

Daisy (left) having a conversation with Annie-Rose (right)

“My heart is filled with love and community and my spirit rejuvenated after attending the quarterly BK Foundation Leadership Exchange. Upon entering the space, I didn’t know what to expect. My co-conspirators at the Norcal Resilience Network invited me to the event so I knew it must be an inclusive space and that I would be bound to meet some amazing people. The facilitators were amazing and held space for deeper conversations that could have been very new or uncomfortable for some. We were invited to take care of our needs throughout the day which helped create a safe space. The lunch was amazing and healthy and enough for seconds! The experiential activities, coupled with the deep discussions, kind-hearted participants, and free books from authors published by BK was more than I could ask for. I look forward to attend again in the future and supporting the next Leadership Exchange as a co-organizer. Thank you BK Foundation for creating spaces for healing and community. You are greatly appreciated.”

– Daisy Ozim, Founder

Voice From A Design Team Member: Kristian Astre

Kristian in action (left)

“When I joined the Design Team, only one thing was for certain — the expectation that we would put together a day of provocative dialogue and discovery for a community of individuals who considered themselves leaders. I didn’t know what to expect but I was willing to dive in because of my two very personal connections to the BK Foundation: my brilliant wife, Kerline Astre, who also serves on the fundraising committee for BK Foundation and Annie Rose, the fearlessly generous and ever-accommodating Executive Director.

Inspired by their unwavering commitment to progressive change, inclusive spaces and intentional community, I was compelled to enter into the mysterious process of designing a Leadership Exchange with a group of strangers even though my introversion begged me to reconsider. Thankfully, I pushed passed my instinct to draw back and instead relied on my intuition. I felt like there was something in the experience that I could grow from and I challenged myself to find it.

Gratitude led the way. Being grateful to be of service, being grateful for the opportunity to influence my community and being grateful to my team for their commitment, honesty, transparency and authenticity laid the foundation for a willingness to be vulnerable, be present and be open to the unpredictable journey of co-creating what turned out to be a potent day of sharing and connecting.

Inside of the whirlwind adventure of collaborating, the frustrations of scheduling times to meet or talk, the relief of seeing that pieces start to come together, the joy of having a team to rely on and the exhilaration of seeing our vision come to life, I found an appreciation for stepping outside of my comfort zone and the beauty of allowing my introversion to tag along for the ride.”

– Kristian Astre
Arts and Culture Writer

A Letter from a Design Team Member for our Spring Leadership Exchange

From left to right: Kristian, Kira, Lisa, and Shawn

Learning how to collaborate can be hard. Especially collaborating with strangers. This can make us feel uncomfortable, asking open-ended questions: What my style of process information? What am I doing here? Why am I working with these strangers? How can I trust these people enough to share my thoughts and feelings? Can you respect me? Can I respect you? Can we work effectively together? Why do I sense these feelings? What is really our purpose in working together? 

All of these questions can trigger negative personal feelings. Sometimes collaborating can make us uncomfortable, uneasy, or insecure. It can remind us of trauma that triggers remnants of our past. This is all hard, but don’t let it blind you from experiencing the beauty of collaboration!

The beauty of collaboration is that you get to challenge yourself and what you think is “normal” to you and take it all in as a new form of humility and learning. It influences our original perceptions by evolving a new “normal”. It challenges us to be open-minded and take a step out of our comfort zone; to question ourselves, our intentions and our abilities. It pushes people to come together, and helps people develop new relationships and ideas.

Which leads me to this upcoming Leadership Exchange: “Co-Creating Community for These Times”. In these times, there are many things that worry us, to name a few: automation and jobs, government politics, education, poverty, inequality. It is times like these when communities should come together and collaborate to find an outlet to overcome our pain and frustrations individually and collectively, as a community.

Yes, we are all different with different personalities, characteristics, values, beliefs, knowledge, and principles. Yes, we identify ourselves differently. Love differently. Learn differently. See things differently.  And do many more things differently. Yes, we are all beautiful in our own way, and embracing the beauty within ourselves and others will help us accept the challenges of collaborating to work in solidarity for a larger common cause or struggle.

At any time, it will be challenging to co-create communities, but there are many of us who are longing to connect and help for different reasons. Let us continue to build this dialogue and movement to lend a hand. Let us continue to share knowledge and wisdom. Let us continue to be open to vulnerability. Let us be a resource to each other. And let us empower each other.

So I extend my invitation to you, by inviting you to share the beauty of your differentness and see if we can co-create a community for these times. And I thank my leadership design team members, Shawn, Kira, and Kristian for signing up to be a part of this effort. I have attached a picture for you to see the progress of our collaboration in knowing each other for only two weeks!

Yours very truly,

Lisa Phan

Lisa Phan is currently working at Perkins Coie, LLP, and attending University of San Francisco for her Masters in Public Administration.

Come join us at the 7th Oakland Leadership Exchange and meet this collaborative Design Team!

Spring Leadership Exchange Event Details

Co-Creating Community For These Times

Saturday, May 20, 2017


~Registration includes a delicious lunch & light breakfast~

**RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY by registering through Eventbrite.**

Check out our event page on Facebook!

Global Diversity & Inclusion Benchmarks Launch Was a HUGE Success!

Click on this link to view a 2:26 minute video of the GDIB launch event, April 12, 2017, in San Francisco.  It was sponsored by the Equity & Inclusion Division of UC Berkeley and LinkedIn and held at LinkedIn headquarters.  Berrett-Koehler Publishing, Inc. was a Contributing Sponsor and there were 19 Promotional Sponsors.

Our Executive Director, Annie-Rose London, hosted a wonderful break-out discussion for the even. It’s called, “Let’s Play It Out – Playful Approaches to Serious Issues.”

If you are interested in GDIB: Global Diversity & Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for organizations Around the World by 95 Expert Panelists, Julie O’Mara and Alan Richter, go here to download and learn more http://diversitycollegium.org/globalbenchmarks.php.

Sam & Kris: Intergenerational Partnership

By Sam Clayton & Kris Schaeffer

Sam Clayton, an Emerging Leader, and Kris Schaeffer, an Experienced Leader, first met at a Berrett-Koehler Foundation (BKF) workshop on Intergenerational Communications. The workshop’s goal – participants will find one person in another generation to work with. Together they select a project – from either partner – and then, while completing it, also observe how they worked together, worked out their differences, and share the experience.

Here are BKF’s steps in the Partnership Process and what Sam and I learned about working across generations.

“I bet you run with a lot of young people,” Sam said to me. “What a compliment! I may just not retire,” I replied. Sam and I were debriefing our first four months of working together and some of the key lessons we learned.

Matching / Pairing

Finding a partner takes a mix of luck and skill. The workshop was designed to match people up using a form of intergenerational speed dating. But speed dating gives you only a brief glance at a face and a business card. We didn’t have much time to explore our interests, our projects, our expertise.  There was just enough time to make an initial impression – Sam’s British accent; my name tag that said “Mindfulness.”  So we scheduled a longer meeting to see if we were a match.

Sam: “At the BK workshop, I gathered several names of potential partners and had already met with some of them before I met with you. I really didn’t know what you had to offer and how you would fit into my project.” 

Kris: “Aha! That explains why you were making me prove myself. You were asking some pretty tough questions.” 

Sam: “I had already rejected one coach who didn’t have the skill set that I needed. The situation felt somewhat unpleasant so I didn’t want to have another experience like that. I guess I made you prove that you were self-secure. And you are.”

Kris: “That’s learned from a lifetime of being a female consultant in some very male organizations. Some clients behave like truck drivers in suits.”

Sam: “Clearly you are a badass.” 

Kris: “You flatter me too much.”

Tip: Not all coaches are the right fit. Search until you have an appropriate match.

Tip: A good match may be either someone who has the content experience or who is a personality fit. A great match is when the partner has both.

Getting to Know You

To find a partner, go deep. What does the person value? What sparks joy? What they are excited about? We had more time in our first meeting to learn about each other. We talked about the work we were doing, found our common interest, and chose which project to work on.

Sam: “I began to see a connection when you told me about your project – writing about using mindfulness on your healing journey.” 

Kris: “While I was enrolled in a year-long mindfulness program for social change agents, I was injured. Mindfulness kept me sane during all the grueling physical therapy.” 

Sam: “You are involved in social action and spirituality. That’s not only key values for us Millennials, but also they are two of the elements of the future model I was working on. We were very aligned.” 

Kris: “You started with a killer model for imagining the future –a new vision that inspires deep optimism, shared purpose, and collaborative action. I’m quoting from your web site, Sam. This is beautiful.” 

Sam: “You got it right away.”

Kris: “What I loved was that your future is optimistic and interconnected. I wanted to work on your project, not mine.”

Tip: Shared values build a strong foundation for a partnership.

Tip: The Experienced Leader needs to be on the cutting edge of culture. The project moves quickly because both partners are using the same and compatible skills and information.

Setting Ground Rules

Ideally, the partners have compatible work styles. In reality, that is rare. Partners need to work out their differences in how they work. For most of the project, Sam and I worked virtually from two different locations. He’d write; I’d edit in a back-and-forth exchange. Then when Sam’s work had progressed to a point where he was ready, we got together to discuss the project face to face. Kindly, Sam came to my office so I didn’t have to commute.

Our own ground rules evolved as we continued to work together. It was a natural urge to have an agenda and outcomes for our meetings. They started and ended on time. We focused on the task at hand and had the same work-first-before-play ethic.

An important element of our partnership was telling the truth, giving honest feedback in a constructive way. Sam did shift his idea from change maker dinners to a web site.

The How you work is as important as the What you are working on.

Kris: “Sam, you made it easy for me. You came to my office; you were always on time, and you stayed only as long as needed. I felt that you respected my time.”

Sam: “Of course. I felt I owed you that.”

Kris: “Your progress on your project drove our timeline. We’d meet when you were ready. We’d talk and then you’d go away to digest it.”

Sam: “Work unfolds in fits and starts. Creativity can’t always conform to the clock or calendar. I appreciated that you were available when I needed you and that you didn’t impose a superficial structure that would not have been suited to my creative enterprise.”

Kris: “I see no reason to meet for meeting’s sake.”

Sam added: “You were pretty challenging and told me the truth. Honestly, I don’t want someone to give me praise when I haven’t earned it.”

Kris: “Well, you certainly have earned my admiration.”

Sam: “But I don’t know if I would say that to any coach at the beginning of a relationship – please, be tough. That has to come from the coach.”

Tip: Create a structure and ground rules that work for both partners. Ground rules may evolve as the work moves on.

Tip: An idea blooms with skillful pruning. Keep the best parts of an idea and use that root stock for the rest of the plant to grow upon. The coach is a gardener who provides light and food for the plant.

Tip: Ask questions; don’t tell your partner what to do. In this way, the new idea remains his own.

Tip: Provide guidance and honest feedback. Provide the feedback in a style that fits the partner’s readiness to listen.

Working on the Project

Sam had a big idea – the strategic thinking should include four elements of technology, ecology, social justice, and spiritual awakenings. And Sam’s vision included engaging with other change makers and futurists. His initial idea – to have change maker dinners. His ultimate idea – to build a web site with these ideas to spread, engage, and collaborate with others.

So we worked not only on Sam’s articles but also the design of the web site. I helped by pointing him to others who had done similar work – writing and speaking. I networked him with them so he could learn his own way forward – write first and then speak? How to get speaking engagements? I’m not the subject expert myself, but I could get him lined up with others who are.

Sam: “For me, the most important part of our working together was that you never smothered my idealism. And you never told me that I was wrong.”

Kris: “I’m still an optimist. Martin Luther King said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it slowly bends towards justice.’ I admire that you quit your job to pivot your entire career toward this big idea. That takes a lot of courage and commitment.”

Sam: “Did you ever do that?”

Kris: “Yes, I took a pay cut to teach in an alternative school that taught service learning for social change. Now I’m working for corporations who believe in social change and conscious capitalism.”

Sam: “Optimism isn’t just for the young, is it?” 

Kris: “That’s exactly right, Sam.”

Tip: Use your experience and network. Share freely.

Tip: Your project may morph into another direction. Be honest about what you can and cannot do to help.

Tip: Stay alert that you are not encouraging old thinking onto a new idea.

Deepening the Relationship

Lessons learned. Debrief. The project ends. Will the relationship continue?

One of the exciting elements of working together was not only the excitement of seeing the project come to fruition, but also to reflect on the lessons learned. This was a true partnership – the Experienced Leader learned from the Emerging Leader.  We spent an entire meeting talking about the project and what we got out of the relationship.

This article is one aspect of our sharing. We hope that others in different generations are open to opportunities to work together , and that you gain some ideas about how to do that.

Kris: “You know, I wasn’t kidding when I said that I had been thinking of retiring. You have been a great help to me, Sam.” 

Sam: “That’s good. I wanted this partnership to be balanced.”

Kris: “You let me know that I have what it takes to work with Millennials, with younger people. I’m not going to retire. Not only am I going to continue working, but I also will change the focus of my consulting work. Now I’ll consult to Conscious Capitalists and social entrepreneurs. They’re trying to do good in the world.”

Sam: “That’s quite a shift.” Kris: “Well, you helped me remember that I did the same thing before. I can do it now.”

Kris: “I guess I need to change my web site.” 

Sam: “I’m glad you say that. Honestly, your site reeks . . . of an old-fashioned business model. It doesn’t appeal to Millennials.”

Kris: “Now you tell me. You’re right, Sam.”

Sam: “Let me work with you on that.”

Kris: “I see that this is leading to a long -term relationship.”

Tip: Get connected to working with Millennials. They are your next friends, customers, and confidants.

Tip: Leave your heart open to working with other generations.

Check out Sam’s new website at www.SamClayton.io.

Kris’s website is a work in progress. If you want to see the Before version, it’s at www.KrisSchaeffer.com.