Today's post comes from Amina Cooper, 2012-2013 Wolf Trap Foundation Fellow.
I’ve always been fascinated and perplexed by the concept of leadership. Do some people naturally have some perfect combination of skills that predestine them for leadership positions? Can leadership skills be cultivated? What do leaders have in common? I contemplate these questions because my professional goals require me to become a leader. I want to be able to drive change, influence policy makers, and open doors for diverse groups. My goal? Increase diversity among arts audiences and arts organizations.
Many organizations that profess to value diversity only do so on paper. Actively managing diversity through programming and hiring practices takes/requires a deeper commitment. I was initially drawn to the Fellowship at Wolf Trap because of its reputation for taking the professional development of young arts managers seriously. With a new Fellowship Program intently focused on the professional development of arts administrators of color, I believe Wolf Trap is also one of those special places that actively manages diversity. As a “double minority” (a woman of color), I am honored to have been selected as the first Wolf Trap Foundation Fellow, and I intend to use my experience here to help lead efforts to increase diversity in the arts industry.
Since last September I have been working on special projects with managers across the organization, fine tuning my skills as an arts administrator while receiving invaluable mentorship. As I have rotated through several departments, I have gained a comprehensive understanding of the organization and the processes that must be managed in order to sustain an arts organization of this scope, breadth, and reach.
Most importantly, my experiences working among Wolf Trap’s stewards have guided my reflection of leadership. The leaders I’ve worked with at Wolf Trap actually don’t have a lot of common. They represent many different backgrounds, experiences, and areas of expertise. What unites them is their shared passion for Wolf Trap and the work of presenting the arts. I’ve discovered that what leaders have in common could never be defined demographically. They share those special intangible qualities that reside deep within the spirit and mind. We affirm and embody these qualities when we manage diversity.
Are you interested in the Wolf Trap Fellowship? For more information and to apply, click here!