Blog series (#5) Lessons Learned: Building Networks During a Crisis

Co-Authors: Nikki Uyen Dinh, Audrey Jordan, Leah Ferguson & Dee Washington


The Community Change Leadership Network began with the intention to create a treasured space for RWJF Change Leadership Programs alumni and participants to connect, collaborate and innovate together. 

This project is managed, in large part, by the work of a project team (consultants and CLP alumni) that is tasked with supporting the evolving scaffolding of this emerging network. While our team has deep expertise and experience in supporting network leadership, a pandemic has ways of shifting our collective focus as well as our communities’ needs. Adapting to this moment requires an openness to change and experimentation in approaches and strategies (i.e. taking risks, and growing and failing along the way).

To help unpack some of the behind-the-scenes work of this network, we have created this introspective on our journey as project team staff. It is our intention to use this space to both (1) lean into transparency in a time of uncertainty and (2) share learnings when the journey is not linear. 

July 13, 2020 – Nikki Uyen Dinh

Learnings about the practice of consent: In recent weeks, Circle Forward, a team within the project team has been sharing their framework around the Principle of Consent. It was presented in our project team meetings. In the upcoming weeks, the Design Action Group will also learn and practice this principle. The idea of a third option or another way of visualizing group decision making has really been sticking with me. If our brain works in two systems like Daniel Kahneman shares in Thinking, Fast and Slow (where the first system is fast, intuitive, and emotional and the second system is slower, more deliberative, and more logical) then this consent really helps us slow down and examine. In a time where news headlines alone can spur deeply polarizing feelings and attitudes, and in a time where our belief systems and core are being shifted rapidly, I think it is a welcomed practice to examine what our range of tolerance actually is.