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OP-ED: Lessons in Leadership by Regina Jackson, Outgoing Executive Director of EOYDC

Leadership is not just a position or a title, it is action and example. To effectively lead and make a lasting impact in our communities, we must tap into our passion for service in a way that creates value in the lives of others. This charge begins with one specific attribute of emotional intelligence: self-reflection. As leaders, it is critically important that we know ourselves. We must ask: who am I and what do I stand for?

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President and CEO Regina G. Jackson has set the strategic direction for the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) for 27 years.
President and CEO Regina G. Jackson has set the strategic direction for the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) for 27 years.

By Regina Jackson With Phylicia King

President and CEO Regina G. Jackson has set the strategic direction for the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) for 27 years. With a platform focused on character-based leadership development, her youth-led initiatives have empowered thousands of young people to achieve academic and career success.

Now, as she prepares to transition from her EOYDC leadership role this month, Regina shares lessons in leadership from her lifelong journey toward fulfilling her life’s purpose. She speaks in her own words below.

For nearly three decades, I have focused my efforts on investing in and helping to nurture the potential of youth across Oakland. Like so many areas across the nation, East Oakland is a vibrant community brimming with possibility that is often overshadowed by the very real impact of higher poverty and crime rates.

In a community where many families struggle to meet basic needs, the kinds of enrichment activities that can inspire kids to explore, discover and develop their gifts and talents are often financially out of reach.

And that’s why, now more than ever, the efforts of community-based organizations are so important. They are not only a conduit for developing the social and leadership capacities of our youth, but they also provide safe spaces that uplift them as they navigate life circumstances that can be overwhelming to face without meaningful support.

As I approach the end of my time leading EOYDC, I wanted to share some important lessons that can benefit nearly any organization seeking to improve its community. Given the challenges we’re facing, there is no more important time to understand how we can act in the lives of young people and set them up to thrive.

Know Who You Are and What Drives You

Leadership is not just a position or a title, it is action and example. To effectively lead and make a lasting impact in our communities, we must tap into our passion for service in a way that creates value in the lives of others. This charge begins with one specific attribute of emotional intelligence: self-reflection. As leaders, it is critically important that we know ourselves. We must ask: who am I and what do I stand for?

Thinking back, my passion for service began in my early years as a Brownie in the Girls Scouts. Earning my first merit badge lit a fire in me to continue to serve and, in doing so, I developed a strong sense of accountability and responsibility that remains at the core of who I am today. As a spiritually grounded, purpose-driven leader, knowing who I am and what I stand for upholds me on this path I’ve been called to walk. I accepted my role at EOYDC because I felt aligned with the center’s mission, fueled by passion and sustained by a work ethic that allowed me to face challenges with determination, lead with integrity and inspire others to join me along the way.

As leaders, what we discover about ourselves creates the foundation of our character, purpose and authenticity — all vital keys to our success in leadership. We must take time to reflect and assess who we are, what we value and how we show up in the world in order to truly make a difference. When we’ve done this important internal work, we can effectively lead others toward a common vision or goal.

Challenge the Notion of What’s Possible 

There is power in possibility. Leaders who aspire to break barriers look at their surroundings, circumstances and the people they lead through the lens of possibility and set expectations based on that perspective in order to shape the future.

I meet every student I mentor where they are mentally, physically and emotionally — and I walk beside them on the path to endless possibility. Through EOYDC’s summer program, we place young people in positions to lead through exposure and opportunity.

Youth as young as 13 design curriculum, teach classes and manage people. We put the power in their hands and offer positive reinforcement to guide them along the way. As a result, students gain independence and self-confidence — and that is exactly what a successful leader should aim to influence.

As leaders, when we set expectations for the people we lead and challenge them to stretch and grow to meet them, we help unlock their potential and change how they view themselves. This process is not without discomfort, but we must encourage those we lead to embrace discomfort as a byproduct of growth and remain focused on the goal at hand.

Leave a Legacy

A leader’s legacy is only as strong as the foundation they leave behind that allows others to continue to advance. True leadership is not about the role, it is about the goal — and with service as a goal, our work is never done.

At EOYDC, we guide youth into new opportunities by exposing them to new concepts and practice areas and helping them develop the skills they need to succeed. Many of the students I’ve mentored who have gone on to work in prominent positions in the public and private sector point to the supervisory experience they received at EOYDC as critical to their subsequent success as working professionals. I’ve seen kids sit up straighter, walk into rooms with more confidence, and continue to serve because we helped them realize possibilities.

When it is all said and done, leaders raise up other leaders. This is our legacy. One of the things I’m most proud of is the fact that the majority of current EOYDC leaders are EOYDC alumni — and as I move on to the next chapter in my journey, I feel confident that I am entrusting my work to the next generation of leaders who will carry the mission forward.

To follow the next phase of Regina’s leadership journey, reginagjackson.com. To learn more about the East Oakland Development Center’s programs and initiatives, visit www.eoydc.org.

** Phylicia King is an associate with SMJ Communications.

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Activism

Moms 4 Housing Hold Sit-in Demanding County Supervisors Extend Eviction Protections

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms. Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

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Participants in the sit-in, which began Tuesday afternoon, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.
The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

By Post Staff

Moms 4 Housing held a sit-in in the nonviolent civil disobedience tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., to demand that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors uphold their original vote to pass permanent Just Cause eviction protections for the 60,000 tenants living in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County.

The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms.

Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

The Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), ACCE and EBHO, along with other local activists, are mobilizing outside of the Alameda County Administration Building to stand in solidarity with Moms 4 Housing, an organization focused on uniting mothers, neighbors, and friends to reclaim housing for the Oakland community from the big banks and real estate speculators.

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Activism

Following More Mass Shootings Democrats Introduce Assault Weapons Ban

On January 22, a gunman opened fire on a crowd celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 and wounding 9. The Democrats’ proposed Age 21 Act would make it illegal to sell or buy an assault weapon to anybody under 21, bringing it in line with the legal age for purchasing handguns. President Joe Biden has publicly stated his support for the legislation.

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The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans
The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans.

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire

Two proposals aimed at curbing the spread of assault rifles were submitted today by Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein of California, and Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

The Assault Weapons Ban seeks to prohibit the commercialization, distribution, production, and importation of assault rifles and other firearms designed for use in military operations, as well as high-capacity magazines and similar devices.

On January 22, a gunman opened fire on a crowd celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 and wounding 9.

The Democrats’ proposed Age 21 Act would make it illegal to sell or buy an assault weapon to anybody under 21, bringing it in line with the legal age for purchasing handguns.

President Joe Biden has publicly stated his support for the legislation.

Biden said that the number of mass shootings declined during the decade that the Assault Weapons Ban was in effect.

“In the 10 years that the Assault Weapons Ban was on the books, mass shootings went down,” Biden remarked.

“After Republicans let the law expire in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled,” he declared.

Both houses of Congress were urged to take quick action by the president.

According to Biden, “the majority of American people agree with this rational measure.”

“There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our children, our communities and our nation,” he insisted.

In the House of Representatives, Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline said he plans to introduce a companion bill to the Senate’s Assault Weapons Ban.

Feinstein said assault rifles “seem to be the unifying denominator in the seemingly endless number of horrific shootings.”

“Because these firearms were created for maximum efficiency in mass murder,” the senator noted.

“They have no place in our society or educational institutions. It’s time to take a stand against the gun lobby and do something about getting these lethal weapons off the streets, or at the absolute least, out of the hands of our youth.”

Blumenthal added, as the gunman at the Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park demonstrated just days ago, assault weapons are designed for one and one purpose only: to murder or hurt human beings.

“These military-style combat weapons – built for the battlefield and designed to maximize death and destruction – have brought bloodshed and carnage to our streets and continue to be the weapon of choice in countless mass shootings,” Blumenthal said.

“Guns don’t respect state boundaries, which is why we need a national solution to restricting the ownership and use of assault weapons. Now is the time to honor gun violence victims and survivors with this commonsense action.”

Rep. Ciciline argued that it is long past due to reinstate an assault weapon ban and remove these “weapons of war” from civilian areas.

The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans,” Ciciline noted.

“We need to come together to enact this commonsense, effective, and proven policy to reduce gun violence and save lives. I thank Senator Feinstein for her partnership in this fight and look forward to introducing the House companion bill in the coming weeks.”

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Activism

With a 97.3% Strike Vote, More Than 500 Richmond Educators Rally Before School Board Meeting

“We don’t want to strike, but we will if it means doing what is best for our students. Over 90% of all union members who participated in the strike authorization vote are ready to meet this crisis created by a board and management team not working in the interests of the district. We are hoping our actions through the fact-finding process will show WCCUSD that we are serious about fighting for the best resources for our students. They deserve the best, and nothing less,” UTR President John Zabala said.

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Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day
Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day

By Post Staff

United Teachers of Richmond (UTR) held a rally urging West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) officials to reach a “fair settlement” and avoid a strike.

Teachers, school psychologists, school nurses, school counselors, program specialists, librarians, and speech-language pathologists are calling for a settlement that includes community schools, shared decisions, and competitive compensation that keeps outstanding educators in the community — and brings the next generation of educators to the district.

The rally was held at Lovonya Dejean Middle School, 3400 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond.

“We don’t want to strike, but we will if it means doing what is best for our students. Over 90% of all union members who participated in the strike authorization vote are ready to meet this crisis created by a board and management team not working in the interests of the district. We are hoping our actions through the fact-finding process will show WCCUSD that we are serious about fighting for the best resources for our students. They deserve the best, and nothing less,” UTR President John Zabala said.

In mid-November last year, the Legislative Analyst Office of California announced additional guaranteed, ongoing funding for the 2023-24 school year. The district intends to only provide less than half of the percentage of ongoing permanent funding it receives from the state for educator compensation, according to a statement released by the UTR.

Despite that projection of continued funding by the state, the school district declared an impasse in negotiations with UTR. Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day.

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