Social Impact Leaders Celebrated Excellence while Harnessing Collective Power at Maven Rising

May 30, 2023


Social Impact Leaders Celebrated Excellence while Harnessing Collective Power at Maven Rising

Social impact leaders across issue areas convened on November 4 to spark collaboration in the pursuit of a more equitable future at Maven Leadership Collective’s annual Maven Rising. Maven Rising took over the New World Center to facilitate insightful conversations, inspire change, and celebrate the continuous work being done in the community to uplift and elevate queer and trans people of color.

“We’re going to pour into each other today, and we’re going to do it in a way that is nourishing,” said Corey Davis (he | they), co-founder and executive director of Maven Leadership Collective during his opening speech. “We’re gonna want to continue to do that in our daily practice.”

Maven Leaders’ characteristic care and intentionality imbued the gathering with warmth and familiarity that is often-times missing from conferences. Immediately, guests were reminded of Maven’s restorative power–the ability to communally heal through collective learning, individual coaching, and organizational consulting. After a brief pause, Davis grounded the room in a mindful meditation, setting the tone and tenor for the intentional conversations that would be had–everyone was reminded that reclaiming their breath is always crucial.

“When I look out, and I see the folks who are in this room, showing up to be able to say that equity matters, that justice matters, that community matters, that throwing down together matters, these are the moments that really restore my soul,” Davis said. “And so I just want to say thank you so much for being here today.”

Following Davis, Anthony Sis (they | them), Nadege Green (she | her) and Adam Ropizar {he | they) shared intimate and inspiring stories during the “Power of One” session where the three speakers opened up about how they found their own power through sometimes gut-wrenching experiences but most importantly with the support of what Green coined “community love”. Afterwards, guests were encouraged to choose their breakout session from a list of four sessions ranging from sound healing to reimagining philanthropy.

If guests needed some time to unwind, a sensory room was waiting for them on the rooftop. The sensory room was a place for people who might be overstimulated by crowds or process information differently to reset using various tools and access to peer support professionals. Hidden behind New World Center’s native pine rockland landscape, Peer Support Space transformed the rooftop room into a cozy haven. Coloring books, squishmallows, and essential oils filled the room where guests were allowed to simply be. Yasmin Flasterstein (she | her) started the organization while she was in a Maven leadership cohort.

“Maven does a really awesome job at uplifting organizers, and a lot of times, I think capitalism tells us that we have to really hustle, but part of care work is also refilling our own cups,” said Flasterstein. “Rest is productive. We’re really promoting a space where people can take a break from socializing, take a break from learning and just rest for a little.”

Afterwards, the closing panel between Mavens Dejha Carrington (she | her), Jasmen Rogers (she | her), and Linda Cheung (she | her), moderated by Davis was a boisterous and cathartic conversation that unpacked the institutional harm latent within even the seemingly benign industries, namely the nonprofit industrial complex. The candid and forthright conversation had poet Arsimmer McCoy (she | her) jokingly announce, “turn the cameras off!”

“We don’t talk enough about what we as practitioners, as the storytellers, as the people that are holding so much space for other people deserve,” said Rogers. “How many people do we know that hold space, that find themselves in the hospital and alone. Everybody is allowed at your house all the time. But then when it’s you that needs it, no one can pick up the phone. We deserve the community we’re providing to other people. It’s because of places like Maven, it’s because of people like Dejha and Linda it’s because of people in this audience that we have created a cycle of ‘community love’, I pour into you, you pour into me, and we pour into somebody else and that way all of us can do so much more than survive.”

With an underlying thread encouraging self-care and restoration in order to continue doing the crucial work to uplift each other, the guests held space for the difficult truths while imagining a restorative path forward.

“What’s the difference between faith and hope?” Cheung posed during a question and answer session. “Faith is just believing and trusting that something is going to work out. Hope is the thing that gets touted as a good thing, but it’s actually based on doubt. Anxiety is one of the most paramount emotions that we face all the time and I feel that when I lean into faith more, that anxiety goes away.”

The night winded down as the sun set on the rooftop and guests sipped cocktails provided by Tito’s Handmade Vodka who sponsored the event. Drag queen Khloe (she | her) ended the night with crowd favorite renditions of “I wanna dance with somebody”, as guests were reminded to refill the cups that directly support them by donating to Maven.

At the beginning of the day, Davis established a set of community guidelines ranging from moving with respect, assuming good intent, repairing if there’s been unintentional harm, but one felt particularly poignant at the end of night: “release expectation of finality”.

“We’re not going to wrap all of these challenging conversations up in a nice bow at the end,” Davis said. “We know that the work is a daily practice, and that we will have to continue to explore, interrogate, and do the work beyond what might happen here today. So sometimes, it’s not satisfying. That’s not a happy ending. But what we’re asking for is that we are open to the possibility that the exploration and discovery continues.”

Maven Rising 2022 was made possible with partial support from sponsors AIDS Healthcare Foundation, ViiV Healthcare, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, New World Center, and Contigo Fund.