Keira Wilson is a leader and a mobilizer whose approach to her work and life is rooted in empathy, an abundance mentality and a bias to action- all central pillars of human-centered design! Read our Q+A below for more on Keira, and be sure to check out her spotlight feature in this month's newsletter!
This month's theme is all about human-centered design. Tell us about how you interpret this theme, and how it has played a role in your personal or professional life.
I think about this as a set of tools that help us reframe how we, individuals and teams of folks, learn problem-solving and ultimately become decision makers in our communities/professional spaces. So much of our day-to-day is following along the with previously-laid tracks/foundations that have been designed and aim to serve only a few (often former decision makers). Human-centered design practices are giving us pause and the opportunity not only to reframe the issue, but also to acknowledge and take action in our role within the system.
Tell us about your most significant professional moment since the start of the pandemic.
While our professional spaces transformed at a great rate, I was encouraged by the adaptations my last place of employment, Grinnell College, took to ensure the safe movement and harboring of students, the adaptability of work for staff, and specifically the care from the Center for Career, Life, and Service. I count the professional relationships that transformed into personal friendships, and for my Quarenteam, a kind of family as the most significant parts of the pandemic. We learned to cook almost exclusively vegetarian meals, celebrate birthdays (50 years of life!), an adopt, cherish, and mourn the passing of our greatest dog companions. My Quarenteam re-shaped my language around family and put to practice the kind of family traditions I had always hoped to share.
How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook from pre-pandemic times.
I certainly think that the creation of my Quarenteam family changed the way I think about building networks, community organizing, and the role of empathy/authenticity in the world re-designing. The strength of our social fabric, connection, and ability to “sit in the shit” with someone at their lowest points (growing points) are ultimately our success factors. “Bringing your whole self to work” is still tedious and fought with plenty of places where that's said but not practiced. My hope is to educate/support/inspire/promote a generation of supervisors that are skilled and able to encourage authentic selves at work (and encourage that in our home and communities).
What is one competency or skill you hope to develop in 2022?
Honestly, hunkering down to learn Spanish (again? 8th time's the charm?). In reality, I can understand the language and move around as a tourist in all sorts of countries. But real deep work moves at the speed of trust, and trust is built on relationships, and relationships take communication. Soooo, back to learning Spanish.
What inspires you these days?
Unionization efforts. We are a HUGE country and getting folks on the same page is a feat! I think our working class is hungry, pissed off, and adaptable… AND are flexing their weight in the labor arena. Union organizations are building relationships (and trust!) faster than ever and I can’t wait to see how this work reshapes our relationships.
At OutGrowth, we believe in preparing the next generation of leaders. What is one resource (book, podcast, article, anything!) you'd recommend to those looking to carve out the time for growth in 2022?
We Will Not Cancel Us - Adrianne Maree Brown
What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2022?
Collecting all my resources to share with all of you! Catch me on the internet with a late 2022 website for key Life Design and social innovation resources like how to build your own community social justice tour.
Keira is a full-time celebration enthusiast, civic boundary spanner, and career coach. She is the Assistant Director of Life Design at Johns Hopkins University, leveraging creative spaces of service with community through a futurist and feminist lens. She believes we learn who we are through a tenacious pursuit of self-knowledge, the letting go of fear to offer our unique form of generosity, and living genuinely through challenging spaces. Utilizing Quaker values in her work, Keira is a host for The Dinner Party, navigating conversations on grief, and community engagement coordinator of Philadelphia's Vaudevillian New Year Brigade.