In early 2023, Coro’s revamped Women in Leadership program will celebrate its 5th Anniversary! We sat down with Senior Director of Training Claudia Paredes to talk about this milestone anniversary, the state of the network, and the vision for the program moving forward.
Claudia, you took on your new role as lead facilitator and trainer for Women in Leadership (WIL) earlier this year. We’re so glad you’re here! What moved you to bring your skills to Coro, and to WIL in particular?
I am so happy to join the team! I had the privilege of working at Coro’s New York City center, and learned so much about the Coro tools and how closely woven the community is. When I moved back to the Bay Area, I networked with the Coro Northern California folks. Working at the San Francisco Foundation with the Multicultural Fellowship Program, I was inspired by the tools and frameworks I learned at Coro New York, and continued to build friendships with local Coro staff and alums. The opportunity to join the team here was an organic decision when the role opened up, because I had such strong alignment with the Coro staff and culture. I am also such a big fan of my predecessor, Masharika Prejean Maddison, that I was excited to carry on her legacy with the program.
In your view, what’s the “special sauce” that differentiates WIL from other leadership programs?
The people who join WIL are asking themselves lofty questions and willing to put themselves in positions to get them answered. They are motivated to find a community of women to support them as they find these answers and, inevitably, discover new questions. This energy of discovery and wonder is the specialness that I feel when surrounded by our participants.
The program is unique in that it sets up a learning environment that includes new frameworks and tools that everyone learns and applies together. The circle that is created is influenced by the unique experiences and perspectives of women from different sectors and backgrounds, applying the same tools in their individual, authentic ways.
How would you describe the vision for WIL’s next five years of evolution?
A strongly and beautifully woven network of women supporting women. I would love to lengthen the program so we all have more time to build together. And create more ways for alums to connect and build long lasting relationships.
We’re about to enter another stressful period: election season, holidays and family gatherings, and more. Can you recommend a tool or practice that you’re leaning into, to stay focused and grounded?
BREATHE! I often boil down the Coro tools as invitations to get ourselves out of autopilot and to be more aware of our decisions and thinking. Remember that there are multiple truths and perspectives — and that IT’S OKAY that there are. Focus on centering our humanity and valuing the other person enough to suspend assumptions and biases, and instead be curious and ask 4WH (who, what, where, when, how) questions. Allow ourselves to be surprised by answers and hear new information that might be different than what we’d assumed. With Coro tools, I’ve learned and benefited from all of these practices.
Also, when it’s time to exit a conversation because it no longer serves your wellbeing — DO IT.
Flash forward to the year 2048. The Women in Leadership network is 30 years old. What have all those WIL alums been up to? What does the WIL network look like in your best possible vision?
WIL alums have just gathered for a two-day, national event featuring alums as speakers and facilitators. The power of the network is on full display.
Folks have had opportunities to connect and mentor each other. There is at least one WIL alumna on everyone’s Board of Advisors. We all have a newly generated Leadership Narrative that we love sharing with others. And we all have the good sense to ask ourselves and each other “What’s next?” — while also celebrating where we are in life.
In 30 years, we’ve also worked to get our systems to a more equitable place by closing the wage gap and amplifying the voices of women in multiple sectors.
Interested in learning more about Women in Leadership? Check out these resources: