(originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)
Thought Leader has become a popular term in 2018. It sounds impressive and timely, even if we’re not sure what it means. At one level, the term is meaningless. If you aspire to be a thought leader, does that mean you’re currently a thoughtless leader? Joking aside, Thought Leader has come to refer to an expert in a given field who’s been able to monetizing that expertise. Some look at the reference as the result of inflated ego, but also as a useful marketing tool for increasing visibility and recognition.
Continue reading Trends in Thought Leadership – by Deborah Levine
Why have women waited so long to tell their stories of sexual harassment, discrimination, pedophilia, abuse, and discrimination? How do we as individuals and as a nation process this tidal wave of information as people come forward? I’ve hesitated to tell my stories of sexual harassment because I’ve never been able to comprehend and digest them. The first time I experienced my feminine vulnerability, I was only four years old. I was playing outside in the garden of our home in Bermuda, when a teen-age neighbor squatted down next to me as I was playing with my favorite marbles in the garden. Smiling at me, he reached under my skirt and stroked my privates through my underpants. Before he walked away, he made me promise not to tell my father, silencing me.
Continue reading #MeToo, Three, Four, and Five: A Thought Leadership Moment – by Deborah Levine
Religious Diversity is one of the most challenging, controversial, and complex issues of our time. Few diversity professionals speak on the topic, but it’s my passion and I recently gave a seminar on it at a conference at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Why had these business professionals and administrators chosen this particular session to attend? Some were curious, “I have a general interest in religious diversity, especially learning about other religious traditions.” Others were focused on the application of new information, “I want to understand more about religious diversity so that I can better interact with people from all religious backgrounds.” Our discussion focused not only on the university, but also on business, “I need to increase my understanding and ability to competently work with clients who identify as religious.”
Continue reading Calendars & Religious Diversity – by Deborah Levine
Any discussion of monuments and cultural symbols tends to be highly emotional, regardless of which side of the controversy you’re on. Here in Chattanooga, the controversy features the statue of General A.P. Stewart at the county court house. For some, Stewart represents post-Civil War bridge building and the creation of the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park. For others, his Confederate uniform and the monument’s funding by the Daughters of the Confederacy symbolizes slavery followed by Jim Crow laws.
My experience with historical monuments began thirty years ago when I was hired as the junior of three assistant directors in the American Jewish Committee’s Chicago office. It was August and when a reporter from The Chicago Tribune called, I was the only staff person not on vacation.
Continue reading History, Monuments, and Culture Clash – by Deborah Levine
Islands at Risk
Refugee International reported a few years ago that a Kiribatian man tried to convince a New Zealand court to make him the world’s first climate change refugee. Kiribati is an impoverished group of Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels. He didn’t succeed, but many experts predict a growing number of displaced people seeking asylum because of global warming. The planet has limited drinkable water, fertile land, clean air, and food. The planet’s current supplies are steadily shrinking.
Continue reading Refugees: Are We Eating our Young? – by Deborah Levine
What happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas. Domestic terrorism is a national issue. I often write about how the byproduct of economic dislocation is an increase in violent attacks. When people feel they have little to lose, they lose their socialization and their humanity. The result is a rise in domestic abuse and acts of violence on strangers, whether individually or in crowds. The anger and divisiveness that now permeate our culture take the phenomenon beyond the disenfranchised. Incidences like this attack on a concert in Las Vegas parallel the rise of traditional terrorism and are symbolic of the desire to deconstruct society.
I cannot accept the explanation of mental illness which implies that this massacre is just a single individual with no takeaway that impacts the country. Nor can I accept that Las Vegas was punishment for criticizing Trump and not standing for the national anthem, as one religious figure is saying. Neither denial nor incitement should be acceptable if we are to confront domestic terrorism in our midst.
Continue reading Our Domestic Terrorism – by Deborah Levine
I have been puzzled in recent weeks by colleagues congratulating me on my humility. What are these folks talking about? People who knew me years ago would definitely be amused by that. At best, I was described as “Sweet but Stern.” At my boldest, I was told that I could terrorize entire cities. Community leaders had a white-knuckled grasp on their chairs when I tersely announce my intention to speak off-the-record. Not even a voice from the back of the room calling out, “Oh ho, this should be good!” slowed me down.
Continue reading Nurturing and Humility in Leadership – by Deborah levine
After my father’s eightieth birthday, he told me that he was transcribing his World War II letters for me. My father, the son of an immigrant traveling shoe salesman, went to Harvard, and was trained at a secret US military intelligence camp. He wrote to my mother when he was a military intelligence officer deployed to France, Belgium, and Germany. Assigned to interrogate Nazi prisoners of war, he saw more than one death camp in the process. His letters are now more relevant than ever.
Continue reading The Liberator’s Daughter Writes Post-Charlottesville – by Deborah Levine
I often hear that leadership is greatly needed in these challenging times. But what does leadership mean? Is it a matter of personality? Is leadership defined by mission and goals? Are leaders inspirational figures who leave the nuts and bolts to others? The more we try to define leadership, the more the concept undefinable. “There are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept,” said Ralph Stogdill, a Professor of Management Science and Psychology known for his research and publications on the Personal Factors Associated with Leadership.
Continue reading Leadership in Our Challenging Times – by Deborah Levine
Kim is a key member of the Wayans clan that created TV’s In Living Color. The ten Wayans siblings grew up poor in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Elvira, Kim’s mother, was a homemaker and social worker who took the kids everywhere, no nannies, and no babysitter. Their father was a supermarket manager and the Jehovah’s Witness in the family. With no background in the entertainment business and little money, the Wayans’ success is an unlikely story.
Continue reading Interview with Kim Wayans: Comedian & Advocate – by Deborah Levine