Gratitude in Loss and Leadership

I’ve experienced more loss in 2017 and 2018 than ever before in my life. First, my Father passed in May 2017. Then his Sister, my Aunt and only living sibling left of my father’s siblings, passed in July 2017. And all of that was happening while I had to lead Smart Chicago Collaborative through a merger which in many ways also felt like a loss. My Grandmother then passed in July 2018 and now my Mom on November 1st of this year. 240f07edfde5c34c7de5300a89e9609bIT HAS BEEN TOUGH! But I am middle- child tough and have always tried to live a deeply-rooted life, full of good purpose. Even with sadness, I want to be helpful to as many people as I can.

In The Secret Powers of Middle Children, Lynn Griffin, R.N., M.Ed shares on Psychology Today, how middle children are mistakenly labeled as undriven versus first-borns. She challenges that notion and believes middle-children are actually very driven and “more oriented to principles and concepts, like justice, over earning power or prestige.” I align with this frame of thought which has provided the framework for my entire life, inclusive of my career pathway. I am so grateful that I had fantastic parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and mentors who poured into me such love, and sometimes tough love, which I believe has made me a good leader.

f28dad37d5914b4874677d753a103b17When determining what Henry Williams Love Foundation (HWLF) would be organizationally and how we would serve those communities that needed the most help, the Board of Directors wanted to instill a sense of love and gratitude in the provision of services. The hope is that our community co-designers and participants experience healing and build resilience by spreading love and gratitude in their own life’s journey while retaining knowledge which helps with skill building. When the storms of life come, and they will as evident by my first paragraph, people can still find something in their day to be grateful for and keep thriving. Don’t ever underestimate the power of gratitude in difficult times. It serves as an excellent motivator and I believe an answer to the critics who believe social programming decreases resiliency and fortitude.

As I sort through the sadness and continue along this lifelong journey of gratitude, I know there are beautiful things coming along the path for HWLF, our partners, and participants. The Shuri Project has some expansion opportunities locally and internationally and we are trying to secure resources to realize that goal. Global Logo with Date_0We are launching the brother program to Shuri, The T’Challa Project, and currently, have a Go Fund Me Campaign in collaboration with #GivenTuesday that will assist with purchasing laptop computers to ensure we are ready for summer 2019. As we look to our other areas of focus, HWLF will introduce two new programs in December that we are really excited about and have a couple of promising ones that will be announced in January if funding is received.

I am grateful for the many colleagues, collaborators, stakeholders, community-champions, participants and friends who consider the words that I share and work that I do here at HWLF valuable. Building a new organization in the land of non-profits and the current philanthropic environment is tough, but again…I’m middle-child tough. 

Kyla Williams
President and CEO
Henry Williams Love Foundation


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