Wishes for change in 2015

December 23, 2014
Donna Ladd

"Be the change." Those are three such simple words, yet so powerful. Gandhi's call for each of us to just go become the change we want to see around us is truly the first step to creating stronger communities and bridging the division we've recently seen come out of the woodwork, and scream at us from Facebook and Twitter.

It's also key to spend time around, or "fellowship" as we like to use in these parts as a verb, with positive people who don't live inside their own heads all the time, talking about people instead of ideas. If we want a better world, we have to step outside our heads and go create it. Right now, I'm in love with a simple phrase that one-half of a dynamic BOOM power couple, Yoknyam Dabale, said to us: "There's much more to life than one's self."

I've been blessed this past year to enter into a fellowship of people, the Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network, who believe exactly that and are working together to face our weaknesses, accentuate our strengths and try to become the types of community leaders who can share the tools we're collecting through this three-year fellowship. Our focus is that of the foundation: helping vulnerable children and their families overcome societal and systemic challenges.

My immediate circle of influence among the 120 fellows—who are from Michigan, New Mexico, New Orleans and Mississippi, as well as a race equity cohort from around the country—are the 24 fellows from Mississippi and our four coaches. We are laughing, crying, learning and growing together.

Allow me to introduce them to you. I've asked each to share his or her wish for 2015 (and added my own). Please go to jfp.ms/wkkffellows to add your wishes or ideas for making ours, and yours, come true. We're here to connect all of you to the needs of Mississippi's vulnerable children; please come dream big with us, and then help those wishes become reality. We can do it.

Kimberly Jones Merchant
Greenville
Director of Educational Opportunities and the Managing Attorney, Mississippi Center for Justice, Delta office
2015 Wish: "That the education-funding ballot initiative makes the ballot with no alternate or competing language."

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For a full list of Mississippi fellows' 2015 wishes for change visit JacksonFreePress.com