Igniting Inclusive Leadership at Bioneers 2016

At this critical time, the world desperately needs leadership – from all of us – to transform how we live on Earth and with each other. The kinds of leaders we’re highlighting at this year’s conference create a regenerative loop that’s energizing, inviting and joyful. Each of them inspires leadership in those around them.

Some of these leaders have been role models for me. They have used their own pain, traumas, and learning to inform and transform how they show up in the world. Their vulnerabilities have become their strengths. By walking through the fire of the worst challenges life has thrown at them, they’ve become beacons that illuminate ways toward liberation, equity, healing and democracy.

Three women who embody that kind of leadership open this year’s conference on Friday, October 21:

Eve Ensler has become more compassionate, more connected to nature, and a more effective leader after undergoing treatment for cancer. She will perform Coconut, about reclaiming our sacred relationship to our bodies. She’s also hosting two afternoon sessions: a conversation on intersectionality with the dazzling Kim Crenshaw (who coined the phrase), and a conversation with three remarkable men on the tyranny of masculinity.

Ericka Huggins’ personal transformation took her from political prisoner, Black Panther leader and human-rights activist to an advocate for integrating spirituality with engaged action, whole-person education and restorative justice. The light that shines within her is truly transformative. Her keynote should not be missed: The Role of Spirituality in Social Justice Work.

Katsi Cook, an environmental-justice researcher and midwife from the Mohawk nation, is weaving Indigenous women leaders across Turtle Island into a network. This will exponentially strengthen their efforts to protect and defend their cultures and communities, as well as our collective home on Mother Earth. Given the fierce commitment, relational intelligence and community-organizing skill of many of the Indigenous women leaders I’ve encountered, this makes me feel incredibly hopeful.

I’m particularly enthused about this year’s experiential workshops. That is how I learn most deeply, and I have learned that inner awareness often translates into outer effectiveness. In Cultivating Women’s Leadership, we’ll offer a taste of the kinds of practices we offer in our six-day residential intensive, to experience what leading from the feminine feels like. When we prioritize relationship ahead of tasks, all the work gets easier and more fun.  In Engaging Leadership: From Insight to Impact, we’ll explore varied lenses into the kinds of inner insights that can liberate greater leadership results.

Leadership in Service to Healing

Many of us are being called to leadership that’s about cultural, social or individual healing.

For me, today’s most vital leadership is guided by relational intelligence, which features arts, embodiment and social repair as essential elements.  Climbing PoeTree, the luminous performance arts/activist duo, titled their keynote Creativity – The Antidote to Despair. Here’s a preview from Alixa, one half of the duo:

Relational intelligence at every age, to bring our whole selves to this time, is also featured in The Science Behind Trauma and the Art of Healing Relationships,  Multicultural Women Explore Social and Ecological Healing and Revolutionary Medicine.

All of Bioneers’ Council sessions are designed to surface collective wisdom in the presence of each others’ brilliance, and I’m especially eager to participate in the session on Life in the Balance, about restoring equilibrium through the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine.

Perhaps our greatest social wound is between women and men. Studies reveal that the deepest bias within the human psyche – deeper than race, faith, class or age – is about gender. Will Keepin and Cynthia Brix will be offering a keynote, workshop and intensive on transforming gender oppression, which promise to help with this much-needed healing.

And at the center of all relational intelligence is equity. This year’s conference is abundant with opportunities to explore gender, race, class, economic and intersectional justice as it emerges in many movements, including climate justice. Green For All’s Vien Truong will share her wise perspectives on how to build a new clean-energy economy that brings prosperity and justice to low-income communities and communities of color.

Many of today’s most effective movements and groups are practicing distributed leadership, where the responsibilities and burdens are rotated or shared.  For my way of seeing, the relationship economy and practices of generosity, respect and reciprocity will be hallmarks of this emergent leadership. Women are leading much (though by no means all) of it, and these voices exemplify the leadership I hear Mother Earth herself calling us toward.

You won’t want to miss it, and I hope to see you there.

Register for the 2016 Bioneers Conference here »

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