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Scaling Your Leadership – Learning from our Virtual OHBD Future Leadership Computer Science Boot Camp
Ellenore Angelidis, OHBD Executive Director

Last year we were awarded a grant from the US Embassy American Corners to run a leadership program for young people with a focus on Computer Science and Business/Entrepreneurship. The American Corners are located in key urban areas, have skilled & dedicated staff, equipment, and space to allow for optimal learning and engagement with those in the communities they serve. I reached out to a friend who had led our first coding camp for girls at Lebawi to ask if he wanted to be one of our leaders. He immediately agreed and recruited some of his former students with technical backgrounds and leadership skills to design and deliver the curriculum and recruit the learners we thought would most benefit and contribute to the effort.

This project had a lot of challenges in an ideal situation. But add on Covid and regional conflicts and the challenge level increased exponentially. When faced with the choice of delay until next year or launch virtually, the team decided to move forward because the need was great and the enthusiasm even greater. As the team navigates each of the challenges, we are all reminded of the importance of scaling your leadership.

All of our leaders are amazing in their own right. Each one can do things that are outside my skill set and experience. Yet, we are better together and when we operate as a team. Part of our goal with the program was not only to contribute growth to future leaders in Ethiopia but also contribute to leadership growth for each of our OHBD team members and volunteers. The learning has been intense and multifaceted.

Here are some highlights we wanted to share because they are generally applicable.

1. A plan on paper can be perfect but the people part is always the hardest when you move to implementation. Be ready to adjust your plan many times.

2. Volunteers have a different relationship with the project and can sometimes commit to more than they can reasonably do, or experience unpredictable life changes. Expect the unexpected.

3. Communication is key to leadership and is more challenging when you are virtual and most have never met each other. When in doubt, overcommunicate.

4. Identifying people's strengths and putting them in positions where they can use them is key, although not always simple to do. You need to invest in really getting to know each of your team members.

5. Making hard work joyful and providing affirmation is a key to sustainability. A simple thank you for a job well done should happen frequently.

6. Owning mistakes and failures as learning and opportunities leads to continuous improvement. Everyone should model this behavior, regardless of their role.

7. Delegation and providing ownership opportunities allows everyone to benefit. No one can do it all alone, and most people dislike micromanagement.

8. Perfect is the enemy of the good. Waiting for perfection can be paralyzing. The American expression, “launch broken, fix live” allows people to move faster and without fear.

9. Listening to everyone will help you identify trends as well as see new paths. Listening should not be hierarchy based.

10. If your vision is sound, the mechanics of delivering “the how” may change, but everything you learn through the process will validate the mission.

Growing skilled, gender balanced, inclusive leadership is our mission, and we are honored to do this work. It has its ups and downs and challenges a plenty. But the joy and enthusiasm of the learners and the team has not waned. We are excited to watch these leaders continue to emerge and make their contributions to their lives, communities, country, and globe.

We are so grateful for our OHBD leaders and those from the US Embassy, as well as all the generous volunteers and supporters who have made this possible. We are thankful for all the leaders in this program and across all our efforts. Your commitment and generosity both inspires and empowers so many.

Ready, Set, Go Books in the Seattle Public Library!

We are deeply grateful to Seattle Public Library for carrying our bilingual Ready, Set, Go books in every language we publish (Amharic, Tigrinya, Afaan Oromo and now Somali plus English). Libraries are an essential resource in every community; they are places to discover new ideas, new knowledge, and new adventures. They are sanctuaries where anyone can access opportunities to learn and grow. We cherish all the libraries who carry our books, and we're so grateful to benefit from these essential resources. Do you know a library that could use our bilingual early readers? Connect us!
Over 200 Ready, Set, Go Books reach Jonah's Library

Thanks to Roots Ethiopia and Jonah's Hands for delivering over 200 Ready, Set, Go books to Jonah's Library in rural Ethiopia, where Jonah Larson was born. Jonah is a young crochet prodigy who is using his success to help support literacy and education for kids in Ethiopia. We're so proud of his incredible passion and drive to make the world a better place, and we're thrilled to support his work with our books.

Jonah writes:
"These books are going to help the children ELEVATE! Thank you for your support of Jonah's Library and over 2,000 students! The kids couldn't WAIT to open the books and start reading! OHBD provided 12 copies of each title, in support of literacy, group reading, and library read-aloud time!"
Jane Kurtz nominated for IBBY Outstanding Reading Promoter Award

Congratulations to Jane Kurtz on being nominated for the IBBY-iRead Outstanding Reading Promoter Award! Thank you to USBBY for nominating Jane for her work with Ready, Set Go Books and Ethiopia Reads. The best way to support our literacy and innovation projects is by sharing the word about our bilingual early readers, many of which Jane authored or helped shape through her extensive knowledge. In addition, she's tireless in her efforts to get our books to the kids who will benefit from them most. Her childhood in Ethiopia inspired her to support literacy through culturally relevant stories in Ethiopian languages like Amharic, Tigrinya and Afaan Oromo. We are so grateful for her generosity, her wisdom, her passion, and most of all, her talent! Thank you and congratulations!
Sponsor Locally Printed Afaan Oromo Titles

Afaan Oromo is the second most widely used language in Ethiopia (after Amharic), and we offer dozens of beautiful bilingual early readers in this popular language (with English)! We're looking for generous individuals or organizations willing to sponsor local printing of our books in Afaan Oromo directly in Ethiopia so that Ethiopian students can access relevant books in their languages. Do you know someone passionate about literacy in Ethiopia who could sponsor a printing of Afaan Oromo titles? Connect us! Do you know people who would enjoy these bilingual books? We offer over 100 titles on Amazon and each purchase helps us print and distribute more books in Ethiopia!
Betty's Ethiopian Cuisine is Back!

Betty's Ethiopian Cuisine is BACK to teach another online cooking course! This time we'll learn how to make chicken tibs with lentils, a savory delight full of Ethiopian spices. To sign up, make a $35 donation and we'll send you the Zoom link and ingredient list. A portion of the proceeds will fund more locally printed Ready, Set, Go books for Betty's new library in Ethiopia! Course will be held through Zoom on August 1st from 2-3 PST.
You Can Help Support Literacy in Ethiopia!
  1. Sign up for monthly giving – every $2 represents another book in Ethiopia.
  2. Leave reviews for our Ready, Set, Go Books on Amazon, Good Reads and anywhere else they are offered.
  3. Follow our YouTube Channel. We will send a new book to volunteer readers willing to make a video for us! Contact us for details!
Copyright © 2021 Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund, All rights reserved.

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