Reflecting On 2017

IMG_4789

Professor David Donahue, Director of the Leo T. McCarthy Center

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Sankofa, the African word that means we need to know and understand our past to head intelligently into our future.  Sankofa is usually symbolized by a bird whose feet are moving forward but whose head is looking back.  Sankofa is an apt metaphor for the McCarthy Center as we head to the end of 2017.  This year marks our 15th anniversary.  It also marks a year of strategic planning to chart the course for the next five years.  

High-Res-Sankofa

As with Sankofa, there is much wisdom in the McCarthy Center’s past that can inform what we value: integrity, knowledge, and service.  Recently, we have been conducting oral history interviews with some of the people who knew Leo McCarthy well. Over and over, we hear about Leo’s humanity, his compassion for those who were marginalized by society, and his commitment to doing what is right. At our 15th anniversary celebration on November 9, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi described Leo as a person who could see the “divinity” in everyone.  If only this generosity of spirit were the norm in politics now.  In the meantime, it animates the kind of community we create in our programs at the Center.

Leo’s values speak to us as we look ahead.  We began this new school year with a sense of heaviness and anxiety as racism and white supremacy, which have always been part of the history of this nation, became especially visible and were given permission to manifest by our nation’s president. That heaviness has as women have come forward to tell their stories of sexual harassment, including by our elected officials.

As 2017 ends, we are resolved to engage for racial, gender, and other forms of justice.  Our strategic planning process will give us direction toward those goals as we support students eager to engage in their community and in political life.  We are developing a new program for next year to connect USF students with community organizers and advocacy organizations.  We hope to engage students in city government as we continue to recruit students for state and national government internships.  Since the start of the fall, we have registered over 800 USF students as new voters who are ready to make their voices heard.  Early in 2018, we will launch our gubernatorial speakers series, bringing candidates for the “second most important office in the nation” to campus so they can engage with students, staff, and faculty.

We are eager to hear your ideas about what you see as strategic directions for the McCarthy Center.  Please feel free to share your thoughts with us any time.  Our efforts are stronger when they reflect a collective vision.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section here or email ddonahue@usfca.edu

Advertisements

Random acts of kindness

rmcdowell

Rebecca McDowell
Master of Public Affairs and Practical Politics candidate ’16

There’s a quote I frequently think of that’s often used when tragic events happen in the world – the Boko Haram kidnapping, the Paris attack, Newtown shooting, Boston bombing, Colorado shootings, Kenya attack and countless others. This quote is well known if you grew up like I did watching Mr. Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
― Fred Rogers

The reason I mention this is because December brings around holiday feelings and the season of giving. Helping others and sharing kindness to the world should be a year round tradition, but often times it can be lost with the business of living or is only noticed during tragic events. The holiday season brings with it a reminder for us to pause and notice those around us and the joy of giving instead of receiving. Growing up in school my principal always reminded us that giving does not necessarily mean only expensive gifts, but through acts of kindness – letting someone know how important they are to you, lending a listening ear, etc. These lessons were instilled in me from a young age and I continue to try to live them out in my everyday life. As a candidate in the Master of Public Affairs program in the Leo T. McCarthy Center at the University of San Francisco studying politics, ethical leadership and what it means to serve others – I continue to see how important these lessons of kindness are in the way of how people work together and help others.

These thoughts and reflection prompted me to create a random acts of kindness calendar for the month of December as a reminder that kindness goes a long way and truly does help make the world a better place. There are some open spots left – what random act of kindness would you suggest? Write your ideas in the comments below!

DECEMBER Random acts of kindness 2015(1)