“Challenge is the Crucible for Greatness” was the theme of our January Leadership Kenosha day.

2020 has brought challenges for every single one of us nationwide and so far 2021 isn’t looking much better, but there is hope when looking at the opportunities of growth and change that was brought on by this unthinkable year we’ve endured together.

During our Leadership day, we were able to take a breath of fresh air and take the time to acknowledge the silver linings as well as reflect on how grateful we are for so many resilient people who keep going despite the difficulties to keep our community strong.

We were also able to hear from some amazing and inspiring leaders from our community who took the time to explain how they have taken the challenges from this year, found solutions and pushed through with their teams.

First, we heard from Cameron Swallow from Braver Angels. Braver Angels began in 2016 to work to build bridges of understanding between red America and blue America. She spoke about the importance of listening and coming together on different issues and perspectives. We started the process of depolarizing by identifying our own inner polarizer. When talking the other side of an argument, stereotyping, dismissing, ridiculing, and contempt only further polarizes us and threatens our democracy. Cameron taught us the skills needed to depolarize conversations and then we were able to apply what we learned by practicing with each other.

This topic couldn’t have been more timely or appropriate with what is currently going on with the election and situations that have been escalated by politics. Here’s to hoping more people can work on their inner polarizer when discussing relevant issues.

We can see the change that needs to happen in our country, but it does not take away the hurt that has been experienced. We need to listen to who we are speaking with, see the person for who they are and be willing to learn. “Our side isn’t perfect either, but with the correct facts we can make informed decisions.”

Next, we had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Jen Freiheit from the Kenosha Health Department. Public health is the agency behind the scenes that protects the community and boy have they been busy protecting us during this pandemic! I want to take this opportunity to thank them for all their work. Thank you for all you do to protect, prevent, and serve the residents of Kenosha County. We appreciate you!

Jen was transparent when she spoke about her experience with the pandemic. She shared that she has been trained how to deal with pandemics and disasters, but could not have prepared for how political and ugly this pandemic has been. She also spoke about her leadership struggles during the pandemic and left us with some great advice. This year has been about flexibility and pivoting! She inspired us to become public health advocates so that we can get on the other side of this pandemic together. Read the science and don’t believe in the hype.

Finally, we heard from Pam Halbach from Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency (RKCAA) who provides public health and wellness to Wisconsin residents. RKCAA’s team has been on the front lines during this pandemic making sure families have proper food and nutrition, health care, housing, and much more. RKCAA has helped 708 households prevent evictions in Racine and Kenosha during the pandemic! Thank-you Pam and everyone at RKCAA for all your work you do not only during the pandemic, but all the time.

Our Leadership Kenosha cohort left feeling inspired and hopeful after the insight and information we took in from our local leaders. Every day is an opportunity to grow and challenge is change!

—Davin Moulis

Leadership Kenosha — January 2021