Usually, the Natik board meets virtually, but two weeks ago we arrived in Denver for the annual in-person meeting. Although I have been working with Natik for a couple years, I am new to the board, and this was my first time meeting any member face-to-face.
It was an enlightening experience, and having had time to reflect, I’ve decided the word that best fits it is welcoming. Not only did the board and their families welcome me into their homes con abrazos (thanks Brooke, thanks Rebecca!), but all policy changes were determined from a spirit of inclusion.
For example, during the retreat we tightened the Natik mission statement. Words were debated, pruned, and debated again. It surprised me how long-term members–including university professors, doctoral students, and lawyers–were so interested in my opinions. But it was important, I see now, to hear from the full range of participants, so together we could accurately determine:
Natik facilitates international collaboration between emerging leaders, supporters, and community partners to overcome educational and economic exclusion in Mexico and Guatemala.
It is a simple statement, but vetted from reality. Our long-term members kept it in context, and newcomers like myself got to add a few flavorful words. Appropriately, writing it was a collaboration itself.
We also developed a three year strategy, which aims to better serve our partners by institutionalizing and evolving our programs, tracking systems, and marketing tools. It too was the result of collaboration with opinions coming (quite literally) from around the globe.
Often, I’ve heard people evoking the network of the “Natik family,” and it was inspiring to see it in action. Many on the board have been involved for years, and even those who leave continue to be enthusiastic proponents. Rebecca Perkins, the three-year leader of the board, recently stepped down, but she has already decided how she will continue to help the Natik mission.
There is a Natik family, and it felt good to collaborate with them. They are devoted to valuing people, and they show how effective it is to care and to think. I look forward to continuing to work our mission.