Through the ups and downs of his campaign, Barack Obama impressed me with his unwavering vision, judgment and discipline, not to mention his skill as a public communicator, and ability to mobilize people with diverse interests - all qualities I look for in a leader regardless of institution or sector.
But, it is a group, not an individual, who I want to recognize for its collaborative leadership in the toughest of circumstances. The Parents Circle-Families Forum is a grassroots, nonprofit organization of Palestinians and Israelis who have lost immediate family members to violence in the region.
I met members of the Parents Circle during their recent visit to Georgetown University. Their mission is to promote reconciliation as an alternative to hatred and revenge, and transform the extraordinary loss and pain of bereavement into a catalyst for peace. Parents Circle members travel the world in teams, sharing their stories to advocate peace-building, but most of their work is done in Israel and Palestine. In community centers, schools, homes, and increasingly through the media, they provide reconciliation support for bereaved families. While the rockets fall and the tanks rumble, they stay true to their task.
Recognized for their significant contributions toward "bridging divides between people, finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems, and providing inspiration, and hope where often there is none," the Parents Circle members received the 2008 Search for Common Ground Award.
Leadership is not necessarily measured by the work of one, but if a group has the same power to produce change, that's a standard to consider.
By Kathy Kretman | January 2, 2009; 7:59 AM ET .
Kathy Postel Kretman is the Director of Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership, where she leads the University’s nationally-recognized Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program.