“Stay With the People” | Leadership Lessons

June 8, 2021  • Aspen Global Leadership Network

Joseph Tomás McKellar (Civil Society Fellowship: A Partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute Fellow), is, at his core, a commuity organizer.

As co-director of PICO California, he mobilizes faith-based communities in California to use their voices on various issues of inequity including transforming the criminal justice system, protecting and promoting immigrant families, increasing affordable housing, and creating an inclusive economy. As the pandemic brought the systemic issues Joseph strives to dismantle into sharper clarity, he turned to those communities who were being impacted to listen to their lived experiences for guidance on the path forward.

“Many of the families in the communities we work with never had the luxury of shifting to a virtual organizing or virtual life environment… We can’t go back to quote, unquote ‘normal,’ because what was ‘normal’ was deficient, was insufficient, was unjust, for so many of the people in our communities and congregations where we organize.”

Hear Joseph share his leadership lessons from a time that created a “paradigm shift” for his organization and the communities he works with as well as how staying “with the people” has helped him navigate uncertainty.

Joseph Tomás McKellar is is co-director of PICO California, the largest faith-based organizing network in California focused on racial equity and promoting a culture of belongingness. In his role, Joseph provides strategic leadership to 10 multi-faith, multi-racial community organizations representing 450,000 Californians, and accompanies a talented staff team running power building and leadership programs for 2,500 volunteers. He also helps lead PICO’s “Faith Votes” program, which seeks to engage one million more young voters, low-income voters, and voters of color by 2020 around a vision for a State of Belonging. Joseph is a Fellow of the inaugural class of the Civil Society Fellowship, A Partnership of ADL and The Aspen Institute, and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

The Civil Society Fellowship, a Partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute, is a leadership development program preparing the next generation of community and civic leaders, activists and problem solvers from across the political spectrum.

Leadership Lessons – a Video Series from the Aspen Global Leadership Network

The impacts of COVID-19 continue to challenge our communities. However, through these challenges, there’s a lot to be learned. In “Leadership Lessons” hear from leaders who have stepped up in new ways and remained steadfast in their values through this crisis. How did they make the tough decisions? How have they changed as leaders? Tune in and gain top insights from values-driven leaders – Fellows in the Aspen Global Leadership Network – who are battling trade-offs, creating rapid responses to community needs, sharpening new skills, and more.

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