Healing in the United States: Wonder and Grace? | Two-Part Episode

November 28, 2020  • Aspen Global Leadership Network

The Presidential election in the U.S. revealed deep divisions across political and ideological lines. Many are now asking: what will it take to bring the country together? The Civil Society Fellowship – a partnership of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Aspen Institute – answers that question by engaging the next generation of community and civic leaders, activists and problem-solvers across these divisions to build deeper relationships with one another and tackle pressing issues head-on. 

In this special two-part episode of the Value of Leadership, we talk to two of those Fellows – Jenifer Sarver, Founder of Sarver Strategies in Austin, Texas, and Isaiah Oliver, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint in Michigan. These are two leaders are engaged in very different work. They come from very different parts of the country and hold very different identities. Yet, they’ve built a relationship of respect and understanding. 

We caught up with Jenifer and Isaiah after their week-long virtual retreat – called an UnSeminar – with their Civil Society Fellowship class, named “Mission: Redemption”,  and a digital town hall where they engaged with community leaders from across the United States. During the UnSeminar, the Fellows reflected on readings and speeches from leaders of past and present like Martin Luther King Jr. and President Dwight Eisenhower. The experience prompted them to further explore their personal roles in creating a more civil society today. 

In part one of this conversation, Jenifer and Isaiah reflect on discovering their commonalities and how lessons from their experience could be a model for how other Americans can find common truth. Could the key be to infuse wonder when we enter into these deeply divided spaces? 

In part two, we talk about what it’s going to take to heal these deep divisions. We’ll hear how exercising grace and leveraging one’s individual power – at any level – can aid in reconciliation to create a better country for all Americans. Jenifer and Isaiah also reflect on what values all Americans still share. 

Listen to both episodes for a special meditation on what truth and reconciliation could look like in the United States in this deeply divided time.

About The Value of Leadership

At the Aspen Institute, we believe leadership comes from those whose motivations are grounded in values and whose actions are rooted in purpose. That all sounds nice, but what does a values-driven leader actually look like? How does ‘leading with values’ change their day-to-day decision making? How do they react when they’re tested with a challenge? And how does it make them a better leader than the next person?  

We ask our Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows to look inward, to understand themselves, to challenge their thinking. In the new podcast, “The Value of Leadership,” they’re ready to get vulnerable with you, and share mistakes made, lessons learned, and how the values they’ve honed in on are expressed in their actions when faced with challenges. So, if you’ve ever questioned why you’ve done something that way you did or are trying to dig a little deeper and tap into your own values – tune in and learn from leaders who are doing just that. 

The Value of Leadership is a podcast from the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN). AGLN’s mission is to develop authentic, high-integrity leaders. People who are committed to proactively confronting societal challenges, individually and collectively, in order to create a more just, free, and equitable society. And Fellows are putting their values to work all across the globe. To learn more about the network and the work of our Fellows, visit And explore more episodes of the Value of Leadership here.