Literacy Leader VISTAs advance leadership, equity and community change at regional conferences

Last month, VISTAs represented our Literacy Leadership program in Los Angeles at a CNCS national VISTA conference and locally in St Paul at the Overcoming Racism conference. Both training events provided VISTAs a variety of workshops, lectures and conversations to build skills, network and work on racial equity.

Hiba and Melissa, who attended the CNCS training, both found the event meaningful. Hiba shared that she will use her experience to be successful with her project: “I will build capacity in my tasks and activities to create, expand and strengthen organization systems and processes in our school.” Melissa appreciated getting to know the members of our cohort and said that it was also helpful to meet people who serve in the same state with other cohorts.

Meanwhile, VISTAs in Minnesota at the Overcoming Racism conference heard from Winona LaDuke and Joe Feagin on Friday. On Saturday they were able to watch Aamera Siddiqui perform and discuss an adaptation of “American as Curry Pie.”

Lydia expressed that she “came back with a number of tools and ideas for understanding the impact of white supremacy in organizational settings and taking practical actions for equity – the white culture workshop was especially helpful in learning language for talking about how cultural values show up in the workplace,” while Emma noted that “Winona LaDuke is a role model of mine and it was so amazing to be able to spend so much time learning from her.”

This week, our VISTAs will attend the day-long Literacy Volunteer Management Conference in Roseville to learn new strategies and participate in discussions about volunteer engagement alongside seasoned volunteer coordinators in K-12 and adult literacy programs across the state. VISTA member Andy will facilitate a workshop session on engaging volunteers with disabilities and present on his project to improve systems and resources for Minnesota’s adult education programs to support volunteers and learners with disabilities.

We are grateful for opportunities like these for our VISTAs to participate in community-wide conversations that advance leadership, equity and community change.

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