In keeping with the theme of this year’s Annual Forum, Dare to Fail on the Road to Discovery,
our brave Board Chair, Anita Patel, who is Vice President of Racial Justice & Public Policy at the YWCA of Minneapolis, took the time to answer a few questions about taking risks.
With the Annual Forum just one week away, Anita’s insight offers a vivid portrayal of the benefits of taking a leap to achieve positive and sustainable change in our community.
Tell us about a time you took a risk and it didn’t work out. What did you learn in the process?
I took a risk by taking on a program designed to increase representation of women and people of color on boards of directors. We created the program based on demonstrated need, but neglected to take into account the desire of the marketplace to pay for the program.
While it was a great program calculated on what our community needs to truly become inclusive, we eventually transferred it to another organization that had the capacity to keep the program running based on its mission and funding capacity. I learned that it is important to leap—to develop programs and to set goals, which look to what needs to be built, and one must understand the real appetite in the marketplace. In addition, it is important to recognize when partnerships and mergers are in the best interest of the ultimate goal.
What is a little bet you’ve recently made in your life that helped you accomplish a goal?
There was a particular detailed policy issue this session that deeply and negatively affected children, families and businesses in our community. Bringing together a coalition to get the policy issue fixed was automatic, what was new was getting the children involved.
On the day the final decision on this policy was being made, we brought children and their families to the capitol to thank legislators for their effort and for making the right decision, before the decision had been made. In the end, the policy was fixed and we introduced a new group of children and families to the capitol. We already have some of the kids telling us they want to work there one day and I believe they will!
Why do you think it’s important to take risks?
Risks are the way we grow. I truly believe that the status quo does a disservice to what can be. If we are to reach our potential as individuals, organizations and communities, we must encourage one another to take risks.
This year’s Annual Forum will bring together a diverse group of leaders from nonprofit, government, and philanthropic organizations. Partnerships across sectors increases our ability to approach and tackle issues, while also providing a network of people taking leaps for the benefit of the whole community. The opportunity to learn from others like Anita, who have taken a risk and seen their efforts grow to impact the lives of others in a positive light, is certainly something that you won’t want to miss.