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December 3, 2021
 
Mass. Nonprofit Leaders Told They Can Help Heal Divisions
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October 5, 2021 — Increasing polarization of American society could lead to a national crisis within the next three to four years, and Massachusetts nonprofit leaders attending a virtual statewide conference today were told they can play a key role in putting the country on a more positive path by engaging in compassionate dialogue.

David Campt, founder of The Dialogue Company and expert on inclusion and equity and civic engagement, told attendees they can be effective catalysts for change by shifting divisive conversations “to the important conversations we need to have.”

Leading up to the 2024 elections, he said, nonprofit leaders can spur positive action by engaging in public advocacy and “building bonds of connectivity so that we are less enemies to people on the other side.”

Describing nonprofit leaders as “society’s caretakers,” Campt said, “Dialogue is critical for people who want to build a bridge to a better future, as it leads to greater self awareness and collaboration.”

Doing so, he added, means those leaders will need to call on all available resources to help them foster greater inclusion within their organizations, as well as across larger community.

The annual conference of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, the state’s nonprofit trade association, drew 440 attendees for a four-day series of virtual meetings, starting today. This was the second year that the annual conference was held virtually. In previous years, approximately 600 people usually attended what had been a one-day, in-person meeting.

Campt said the most important qualities of inclusive leadership are candor, compassion, and courage, as follows:

  • Candor admits acknowledging one’s weaknesses, or flaws. “Candor invites other people to own a piece of the problem,” he said. “Think about what would happen if you disclose your part of the problem.

  • Compassion means working to bridge divisions by cultivating ties “to the other side,” even though it often is hard to deal with the complexities of people’s reactions.

  • Courage is the willingness to change one’s own narrative to create a better future, and is key to having a dialogue and being an effective leader.

Campt suggested that nonprofit leaders ask themselves, “What shifts might happen if I was more willing to take action, or to update the agreed upon narrative about a problem we are facing.”

To get started at a personal level, he said everyone can decide to take an action related to candor, compassion, or courage within the next week. To help the country, he suggested restarting a dialogue with someone on the other side ideologically that “you have been rude to.”

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