New York, NY — I’m a big believer in kicking your day off with a shot of inspiration and a great big dose of positivity. What that usually means for me is a 20 minute prayer/meditation session and 10 minute yoga. But last week “good morning” took a whole new meaning when I attended Auburn Seminary’s Lives of Commitment Awards. The ceremony, hosted by Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, took place early Wednesday morning ( I mean, really early — 7am early) at the beautiful Cipriani in midtown New York. This year’s honorees were absolutely inspiring: Yara Allen, Wanda Bryant Hope, Sarah Kureshi, Lekha Singh, Mamie Kanfer Stewart, and power couple Melissa Harris-Perry and James Perry.
As each honoree graced the stage, sharing their words of gratitude and wisdom, I sat there in awe, hoping to absorb some of their greatness. Moment after moment was filled with incredible inspiration. Johnson & Johnson’s Chief Diversity Officer, Wanda Bryant Hope, shared a heartwarming story of how her mother would use jail cell toilet paper to write letters from jail during the civil rights movement. Other powerful moments include James Perry telling how his mission to fight for others led him to meet the love of his life, queen of #NerdLand, Melissa Harris-Perry. The acclaimed journalist touched on the controversy surrounding her departure from MSNBC, stating the importance of staying true to your voice and standards.
Of all the excellence throughout the morning, the most profound moment was during the Q&A panel discussion when the honorees revealed their vulnerabilities, fears, and ways of staying motivated in times of uncertainty. It was during that moment that I realized that those super important, super successful, super influential leaders up on the panel were just as human as everyone else in the room. Each honoree shared what kept them afloat despite obstacles and challenges; my favorite response was from Hope who said her mantra for getting through each day is “show up!” Simply, show up for yourself and be your own hero. Another favorite moment was meeting Allen. After the event, I introduced myself to her, gushed about how much she inspires me (because we really don’t have enough creative, soulful, artsy ladies out there representing and Yara is just absolutely awesome), and asked her a few questions about leadership.
Dedicated to bridging religious divides, building community, and pursuing justice, Auburn provides bold and resilient leaders with the tools and resources needed to make this world a better place. The annual Lives of Commitment Awards honors outstanding leaders of faith and moral courage who heal the world.
Learn more about Auburn here.