Hi My Name Is…Owning Your Expertise

Guest post by Center For Global Policy Solutions Greenhouse Participant, Dennis Worden. 

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I’ve heard on several occasions that Native Americans don’t brag about about our skills or achievements. Sometimes this is said in the form of a “we should get over that shortcoming” tone, but often in the way that infers we are proud of this shortcoming because it means we are humble. I think it is generally true that we do not voluntarily offer up our expertise. Self-promotion is not part of our cultures. By doing so, we are highlighting our individuality in cultures that value community.

When we do highlight accomplishments, it’s often in the form of the dreaded humble brag…and it’s the worst.

The problem is that we often operate in environments that are outside of our communities on a regular basis. Even in a Native environment, young Native professionals may not feel that they can step up and demonstrate their knowledge in a setting with others that are older or more experienced.

We have real value to provide the world and we need to tell people about our areas of expertise so they know who to turn to on a specific topic. This isn’t bragging — this is offering your resources, including your knowledge and expertise, to others. The key is to get comfortable with telling people who you are and what you do in a matter of fact way, without exaggerating or overstating.

If you don’t establish your voice, the world doesn’t get to learn from you. With all of the work to do in Indian country we need more people to step up and be experts for our communities. It is also an opportunity to define who you are and what is important to you.  If you don’t do this you are doing yourself and the world a disservice.

Read the full post at NextGen Native.

“Consider your Contribution:” Thoughts on Opposition

Guest post by OpEd Project Facilitator Deborah Douglas.

deborahd1Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  ― William O. Douglas

From the Department of Why do you do what you do (WDYDWYD)?: According to NYT writer Tara Mohr, “If a woman wants to do substantive work of any kind, she’s going to be criticized — with comments not just about her work but also about herself. … And yet, many women don’t have that tool kit.”

As author of the upcoming “Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message,” Mohr highlights research that shows women are judged more harshly in workplace evaluations, with a focus on aspects of their personality

She says, “Women today inhabit a transitional historical moment. We have tremendous new freedoms and new opportunities, but the legacy of a very different past is around us and inside us. Learning to respond to praise and criticism — without getting hooked by it — is for most of us, a necessary rite of passage.”

I offer Mohr’s thoughts for your consideration, first, to strengthen your resolve against those who vehemently disagree with you as you push your voice and ideas into a more expansive marketplace of ideas. Second, please consider your contribution to this transitional, historical moment and how your thoughts, words and expertise can be leverage into this transitional moment.

And while I don’t have the research to back this up, my gut tells me, minorities face similar circumstances. This is our time; let’s use it.

Deborah Douglas is a veteran journalist and an OpEd Project Fellowship Leader. In 2014, Douglas has led OpEd Project programs across the continent, including our Public Voices fellowships at Dartmouth College and University of Texas at Austin.

For more advice on dealing with negative feedback, see this post by OpEd Project Fellowship Leader Chloe Angyal

To learn more about the photo project WDYDWYD, see here.

Bay Area Experts Come Together at our Fall Core Seminar


Bay Area experts gathered this weekend at the offices of the ACLU of Northern California for a high-impact training around themes of voice and influence.

The program brought together participants from Emerge California, the California Center for Research on Women and Families, the National Crittenton Foundation, the University of Cambridge, and the Stanford Consulting Group.

Experts in the room are working to change the debate around a range of topics, including child welfare law, urban forestry and infrastructure, health policy advocacy, and interacting with women who have experienced trauma.

After the program, we enjoyed the company of some of our favorite Bay Area alums over drinks and appetizers.


Yale Public Voices Fellows – Year Four

YMS2413_0727_M_Juthani-MehtaOn Friday we launched the fourth year of our Public Voices Fellowship at Yale, a university which holds a special place in our hearts and history. Thanks to the brilliant and visionary Yale professors Meg Urry and Laura Wexler, who took a leap of faith with us, Yale was the first university to pilot our Public Voices initiative 3 years ago. The Public Voices Fellowship is now a multi-year national initiative in partnership with top universities and institutions across the country, with some of the most brilliant thinkers on the planet.

Thanks to Yale and all who have made this possible.

We’re thrilled with our newest cohort of 20 fellows who have expertise in the abstract rules of grammar, social norms on college campuses, video games and social media, and more.

2014-15 Public Voices Fellow and Associate Professor at the Yale School of Medicine in the Section of Infectious Diseases Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta shares her thoughts on the first convening, and the spectrum of voice and influence:

“Academia is full of many expert and knowledgeable women, and yet, most of us choose to share our expertise with our colleagues alone. This fellowship program has made me realize that we can each choose to pigeonhole ourselves into our own spheres of influence. The alternative is to become champions for the broad range of topics we know best in the national dialogue.”