I am very rarely at the cusp of trends. I tend to watch from the sidelines to see if a fad is here to stay, and then decide my plan of action.
This is something I miss about living in a sorority house. Information travels fast, and at Alpha Gam specifically, I could get ten different takes on a new place, fashion item, class, or topic just by sitting down for dinner.
One of my greatest takeaways that I brought into the working world was how to collaborate and delegate. I learned it the hard way, by drowning in silent auction donations as a freshman holding my first leadership position as Philanthropy Coordinator. I silently made note when I noticed the boundless skills of the diverse women around me.
There was too much to be done, and too much that could be done, to do it alone. If I didn’t have an answer, someone did. If I didn’t have a skill, a connection, a resource, a sister did. Slowly, I realized our network was limitless, and that we might all be able to bring that spark to the communities and groups we encounter.
I remember one day, our alumnae Chapter President, Irene Fernando, and Recruitment Advisor, Ashley Harville, came to the chapter house during Monday night dinner. I was struck by their approachability. They showed me how I wanted to be an alumnae to the chapter. To be involved, relatable, and connected.
In 2015, they stood in front of me and one hundred other senior sorority women, at an event Ashley planned and Irene was the keynote speaker.
She shared how the thought of “if someone is going to graduate and transform leadership, why not me?” changed the scope of what she believed was possible.
This question led her to wonder, in a dorm room with friends ten days into college, wouldn’t it be cool if we changed the world and Students Today, Leaders Forever (STLF) was born. (Find full speech here)
Last week, they stood in front of me again. This time in Ashley’s backyard, introducing Irene, this time as the DFL endorsed candidate for the Hennepin County Commissioner for District 2.
Despite my delayed awareness for trends, once Irene announced her campaign last fall (the first candidate to do so) I knew I needed to be involved somehow.
Now, when I see the Vote Irene lawn signs, I have the reaction of Will Ferrell in Elf finding out Santa is coming- “I know [her]!!!” Working closely with Irene in our community makes me truly certain of her ability to lead, innovate, and transform Hennepin County.
Before this campaign, I didn’t know that the Hennepin County Commissioner was a role. I didn’t know it managed a 2.4 billion dollar budget, which put into perspective is more than the combined income of Beyonce and Jay-Z. I didn’t know how many decisions were being made and dollars allocated that directly impacted my neighborhood and community.
“In the face of outrageous circumstances, we are called to fight for the common good.” Irene Fernando
With this administration and current state of politics, I think everyone is wondering aloud or to themselves, what can I do. Sometimes that question is so overwhelming and the solutions seem so grand, that we do nothing at all.
I was stuck in this place for quite some time. I wanted to learn from all sides of the aisle that I stayed stationary and listened. As someone who rarely stops talking, I had a feeling this wasn’t the worst thing. What I was reminded of in this time, is that we didn’t need to figure this out alone.
For some, the curious question of “Why not me?” will lead to starting an organization or a campaign. For others, it’s recognizing how you can support what already exists.
Ashley and Irene have again paved the way for me, to display how sisterhood evolves. Irene’s #hypecrew is made up of Alpha Gams. And in that crew, there is a role for me, off the sidelines, that answers that scary question of, what can I do?
Today, Hennepin County Distict 2 Minnesotans, that answer is you can take part in a local primary election, and believe in what’s possible by voting for Irene Fernando.
- Polls are open 7am- 8pm
- Am I registered?
- Where do I vote?
- Learn more about Irene
- Do it all again for the general election in November
“My future, and our future, is thanks to the told and untold stories of those who came before us. Ordinary people who chose to pave a path when there was none. Everyday people who risked some of themselves for the opportunity, for the responsibility to make a change.”