It’s my first week at a new job which feels a lot like the first week at a new school.
“Where will I sit, who will I vibe with, what will I be doing, will I fit in”?
Those are some of the questions that raced through my head as I took the train downtown to the beautiful and inspiring Bezos Family Foundation office. But really the bigger, deeper questions I have been asking myself are:
“How can I help inspire scholars?" “What is the true meaning of an advocate and ally and how can I know what that looks like for each individual?" “How should the Scholars program evolve to meet the needs of participants while staying true to its mission?"
Though I don’t have answers to those questions yet, as I sat in a meeting with my new team, I looked down at the notebook I always carry with me and re-read the statement I had taped to the outside of it many years ago:
To make visible.
To ignite an idea.
To transfer energy.
To find direction.
To give guidance.
To provide new perspective.
To shine brightly.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember where this statement came from to give credit to who wrote it, but I have carried it with me now through three different positions at various organizations throughout my career. It does not matter what I am tasked to do, what outcomes I need to meet or what challenges and joys I encounter in the work; my purpose is to shine brightly and encourage others to do the same. I am thrilled to be in a position that allows me to walk alongside young people as they recognize, practice, hone, speak and act on their inherit gifts, light, and power to make their community and this world better.
Youth Speaks has a local chapter in Seattle and is a huge source of inspiration and motivation for me and many others. They are one of the world’s leading presenters of Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development programs and they create safe spaces that challenge young people to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices as creators of societal change. At BFF and in the Scholars program I look forward to employing their tag line, “….because the next generation can speak for itself” and in learning from and with all the Scholars I will get the opportunity to know and build community with.
Molly Pencke leads with the heart and finds joy in encouraging leadership in others and celebrating their accomplishments. Folks she works with can expect a relationship and practices that are conducive to creativity and innovation and where healthy conflict and feedback are normalized and individual growth is nurtured. Molly likes to utilize and cultivate a social justice analysis, community building rituals and practices, skills that foster shared learning and leadership, and a culture of gratitude. In some of her previous positions, she developed and led employment readiness programs for youth to explore issues impacting their communities while engaging in activism projects as well as coached and lead after school program teams in learning how to assess programs and use data to set goals to improve quality. Molly enjoys reading, writing fiction, listening to R&B and soul music, cooking, camping, and traveling. She lives close to where she grew up, in south Seattle, with her 5-year-old son, Cyrus, and 1-year old daughter, Sabrina, and husband, Eric.