Posted by on June 2, 2019

Compassionate Atlanta, Jambo!

Yeah, that is Swahili for “Hello.” Just wanted to add some African flavor to our newsletter. I can’t help it. It is in my blood. My name is Iyabo Onipede (pronounced Eee-yah-boh O-nee-peh-day) and I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. I am the new Co-Director of Compassionate Atlanta! Leanne approached me late last year and asked me how we could weave in compassion in leadership into the very structure of this organization. We talked about indigenous models of leadership where power is shared and not hierarchical. We agreed to work together and co-direct CA. (Shhh…. Don’t tell anyone. She is still the executive-director and I am the co-director! Ha!).

So, we are on an adventure, figuring it out as we go, knowing that we are both committed to centering compassion in our lives, work and communities. We bounce ideas off each other, brainstorm and dream together, and share the load of what needs to get done. We actually have staff meetings along with Gunawork! I bring my diverse background to the table and Leanne challenges me with her extensive background in the non-profit sector. We have very different strengths but together, we dance well together in our work.

That’s the thing about compassion – it requires interaction with other precious humans. Even self-compassion prepares you to deal with the rest of the world. Modeling compassion can be risky and scary in the world we live in because there is no prototype. Sometimes we can’t relate to the big “names” and religious figures such as the Dalai Lama or Mother Theresa. We don’t feel especially endowed to be empathic or relate to the problems of others. And when the daily pressures of life pile up, making the choice to be compassionate can be a challenge.

It’s the small steps that matter. Taking that small risk and doing something you have never done, thinking about things from a different perspective and making the choice to live out your values, even if you have never seen it done. Supporting each other, leaning on each other and figuring it out together – that is what co-directors do.

More about me? Well, if you were at our fundraiser last year, you heard my colorful story. Suffice to say, I practiced law for about 20 years, then I went to seminary at Candler School of Theology. Who does that? Phew! I became intrigued by inter-faith work and social justice and now, as a cultural development consultant, I help organizations develop inclusive and equitable practices. And now, I get to share my gifts with our incredible organization, Compassionate Atlanta.

I am excited about co-directing and working with the Board, Leanne and Gunawork. You can expect to hear more from me and please, reach out if you would like to. My email is iyabo@compassionateatl.org.

In the meantime, what risk towards compassion are you committed to taking this summer? Tell us about it. We want to know what risk-taking with compassion looks like for you.

Peace and incredible hugs!

Iyabo Onipede
Co-Director/Compassion Cultivator
Compassionate Atlanta

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