In July 2018, Build the Bench brought together a powerful group of senior leaders of national worker center and community organizing national and regional networks dedicated to fighting for racial, immigrant and economic justice. The gathering opened with a discussion about what the idea and practice of “Resiliency and Heart” means to us and to our organizations at this challenging time.

Participants focused on how to manage the challenges of holding to long-term goals while dealing with immediate crises in our communities. Using a peer counseling model along with a decision-making/framework quadrant method, Building the Bench leadership helped participants identify topics that would be most useful in their own work. We specifically explored capacity building and training across all levels of staff and membership and identified three key priority areas for future work:

  • Best practices for race and gender justice analysis in our capacity building
  • Best practices for effective strategic planning and reflection
  • Best models for distributed volunteer leadership work for popular education and organizing.

It was great to have the opportunity to share what participants were doing across organizations. Armed with powerful tools and practices, Building the Bench participants affirmed their commitment to remain in communication with each other through webinars and convenings throughout the year.

Build the Bench July 2018 Conference

"The ability to give ourselves the time to reflect on our leadership is invaluable. Build the Bench is like exhaling… we hold our breaths as leaders, day in and day out, and it feels even harder to breath in this political moment. But relationships and tools offered during this convening is giving me an exhale."

- Brigid Flaherty, Down Home North Carolina, Co-Director

"Having the opportunity to solicit and receive honest feedback from peers is priceless. Build the Bench is a community of folks who are invested in each other's journey and organizational success."

- Tanya Wallace Gobern, National Black Worker Center Project

"This was an amazing opportunity to learn from and exchange with other movement leaders about how to strengthen both our programs and organizations."

- Mackenzie Baris, Jobs With Justice, Deputy Director

"As a new Director it's incredibly helpful to develop these relationships and have the space to think through my skills. My work, which I love, can be extremely isolating, so it is wonderful to make these connections."

- Kate Hess Pace, Hoosier Action, Executive Director