The past month and nearly two weeks I’ve been writing a blog post every day. When I am in writing mode my overly active imagination goes into overdrive. I have eureka moments, and even an epiphany or two!
This morning my mind messaged me what to write. As I awakened, it dawned on me that the first twenty years of my life, and the last twenty years, I have been profoundly influenced by the leadership of women. So, today, I want to uplift a transformational leader, Carol Faye Burton.
I met Carol in 2002 when she relocated from Michigan to work for the Osborne Association. Carol had been made an offer she couldn’t refuse. The work she was doing with children impacted by the criminal legal system in Michigan she brought to New York. We both worked out of Osborne’s downtown Brooklyn office in Brooklyn Heights, and Carol settled in Brooklyn. In fact, I was the first person Carol hired when she came to Osborne as a leader. Later I would joke that it took five interviews over a couple of months before she hired me, probably a record.
Core Staff: Prison, Reentry & Family Services
For the record, Carol and I built a division at Osborne, Prison, Reentry, and Family Services (PR&FS), that endures to this day. We hired and worked with some remarkable and passionate people, some still at Osborne after nearly twenty years. We can take pride in and credit for hiring people who stayed for the long haul.
PR&FS ran a number of “programs” at various prisons, including Sing Sing, the historic and (in)famous prison. One day, during a snow storm, Carol and I went up the River by way of Metro North during a snow storm. We were the only registered volunteers that made it to the prison that evening, because we had promised the men that we would be there for a closing ceremony for those who had completed a parenting class. This spoke to the passion Carol brought to the work. It was probably this passion that kept us from freezing at the rail station. We could have easily stayed in Brooklyn, had the perfect excuse not to go up the River during a perfect storm.
Carol would relocate to California after about five years at Osborne, not because of New York Storms – she hailed from Michigan! She was given another offer she couldn’t refuse. She left me at Osborne, brought me out to participate in a conference in San Franciso a number of years ago.
My work with Carol took me all across these United States. I remember going to a leadership seminar at Gap International in Pennsylvania. There were six of us from Osborne, and I was the only male. It was at the Gap where I came up with my stand: “I am a change agent for a just society.”
Carol remains in California, with the Jeweld Legacy Group, casting pearls where they are most needed.