Corrina Grace On Her AGLN Journey And The Courage To Lead

Corrina Grace, Founder and Executive Director of SERES, highlights her experience as a Fellow of the tenth class of the Central America Leadership Inititiative and its effect on how she sees herself as a leader. 
 
5f4a0406e2bc89c733472382d2e258b6-huge-cg
Photo Credit: SERES
 
Which Fellowship and Fellowship Class do you belong to?
Central American Leadership Initiative, CALI X: X-Potential

When you joined the Fellowship, what was your inflection point?
I was invited to join in the Fellowship in 2014, coming up to the seventh year of living, breathing and spending every waking moment bootstrapping SERES, the non-profit organization that I started in Guatemala in 2009. At the time, I sensed that we were nearing the end of an important cycle in our work and that the next round would be significantly different. We had proof of concept, had trained hundreds of youth and had an innovative, cutting-edge educational model for sustainability leadership. Most importantly, we had results that demonstrated impact. I knew that it was time to take this work to the next level, but I was hesitant. I didn’t feel like I had the skills, experience or network to do this and every time I thought about the next phase, I felt overwhelmed.
 

I have a daily mantra - “all that I am, and all that I have, for all that I love” - that both invites me and challenges me to stay present, to listen, learn and lead.


Describe the problem you are trying to address and why it needs solving.

The world’s most vulnerable regions and poorest communities sit on the frontlines of increasing planet vulnerability. Within Central America, it is the countries that make up the Northern Triangle – Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras – that are amongst the most vulnerable. Plagued by overwhelming social, environmental and economic issues, increased pressure from climate change places stability, peace and prosperity at great risk.

With over 65% of the population under 30 years of age, the future is bleak for the next generation. More than one million of these youth are neither in school, nor employed. For them, contemplating a future at home is contemplating a future without hope.
 
c908a6fd9d9d4042a2fee150d362ce95-huge-25
Photo Credit: SERES
 
Investing in youth opportunity while simultaneously finding creative ways to address the sustainability crisis is essential to providing youth with a reason not to migrate. If action is not taken to address the root causes of migration while simultaneously building climate resilience, the United States and Central America – this unique region of interwoven lives, economies, food sheds and cultures – could end up facing a tragic humanitarian crisis in the years to come.

What inspired you to tackle this issue?
There have been no words so poignant to me in the last few months as those of Bryan Stevenson in his address to the 2016 Aspen Action Forum when he so passionately advised us that “there is no path to justice that is only comfortable and convenient. We will not create justice until we're willing to sometimes position ourselves in uncomfortable places and be a witness.”

I understand what Bryan is talking about. For almost ten years now, I have lived in poor and marginalized communities with the folks on the frontlines of climate change, seeing time and again how those least responsible pay the highest price in loss of life and livelihoods. It has been a profoundly impactful experience. While often difficult, it is also my source of inspiration. I have a daily mantra - “all that I am, and all that I have, for all that I love” - that both invites me and challenges me to stay present, to listen, learn and lead.
 
83f9af5343bee9b69b705abc6a34be14-huge-cg
Photo Credit: SERES

How influential has the AGLN been in guiding your journey?
Being in the Fellowship was instrumental in helping me to understand and recognize my inflection point, creating the space to allow closure for what was finishing and then sense and shape what was emerging. It also pushed me to really acknowledge the overwhelmingly complex challenges the region faces “with eyes wide open”, as we say in our youth leadership trainings. Most of all it solidified my conviction that transforming this crisis is the work of not only a handful of leaders, but a movement of leaders - a leaderful generation - reaffirming my commitment to this work and giving me the push to jump into the next phase of this journey.

6. If you could share any insight with other Fellows, what would it be?
During the Fellowship I realized that being a leader is very different to having leadership, which I define as “the way I work and walk in the world”, and that the challenges of our times calls for a leadership that is distinct from that which has brought us here and shaped the predominant world view. I believe that this leadership must be based on an understanding of the world that is deeply rooted in our common humanity, our connection to each other, and our connection to this Earth, committed to working authentically, inclusively and transformatively, taking responsibility for fellow human beings and translating it into actions to will create a future that we can all live with. Everyone, everywhere, no-one left behind.

 
Posted by Shaquila Williams on Sep 9, 2016 4:27 PM America/New_York
Back to Blog Home

Most Recent Blog Posts

2020 CF
This year has had no shortage of critical challenges and has laid bare the entrenched inequities and structural barriers that communities across the world face. The McNulty Foundation and the Aspen Global Leadership Network are excited to announce the 2020 recipients of the McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund - all leaders who are fearlessly and uniquely ... more
Posted by Sam Cherry on AGLN Blog Oct 20, 2020 7:50 PM EDT
2020 RAAF Slide - love letter
The last day of the 2020 Resnick Aspen Action Forum coincided with the anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Throughout the program, participants carefully reflected on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to meet “the fierce urgency of now,” and what it means to be a global citizen. Hildegard Vasquez , a Central America ... more
Posted by Victoria Scheffel on AGLN Blog Aug 29, 2020 10:49 AM EDT
2020 RAAF Plenary 3 headshots
“Justice delayed is justice denied” is an ancient legal concept, but it’s been cast in stark relief in the last few months. The new pressures of the current pandemic have heightened the reality of inequality and injustice. Systems that most of the world contently ignored have reached a breaking point—or, perhaps, a boiling point. Now is the time that ... more
Posted by Victoria Scheffel on AGLN Blog Aug 28, 2020 2:03 PM EDT
Plen 1_IG_2
Immediate action. Given the confluence of a global pandemic, crumbling economies and livelihoods, and reckonings on widespread racial inequities, that is what the world needs. It is also the reason the 2020 Resnick Aspen Action Forum chose Martin Luther King Jr.’s words “the fierce urgency of now” as its theme. Since 2013, Fellows of the Aspen Global ... more
Posted by Victoria Scheffel on AGLN Blog Aug 24, 2020 3:45 PM EDT
McNulty Global Response Fund 2020
When crisis strikes and the situation requires the few to respond swiftly to protect the interests of the many, high-integrity, purpose-driven leadership makes all the difference. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the globe, Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN) Fellows stepped up to act and meet the needs of their communities. Many Fellows ... more
Posted by Victoria Scheffel on AGLN Blog Aug 21, 2020 3:55 PM EDT