5303 S. Cedar
Lansing, Michigan 48910
Power of We Consortium coordinator Peggy Roberts works to improve conditions and access to resources for Ingham, Clinton and Eaton County’s most underserved populations – with social justice, equity and sustainability always at the forefront.
Michigan Nightlight: What does being a leader mean to you?
Power of We Consortium Coordinator Peggy Roberts
: Effective leadership is a multi-pronged approach. For me, a good leader allows his or her staff, partners, and stakeholders to step forward and take credit during the good times, but steps forward to face the questions and take the hits during the hard times. I am a proponent of leading from behind.
What is your dream for kids?
My dream is that there be a “no wrong door” system that allows kids to have replacement pieces to the puzzle that is their life.
My dream is that there be a “no wrong door” system that allows kids to have replacement pieces to the puzzle that is their life. For example, a child that is moving from home to home – or even shelter to shelter – is challenged to be successful in school. Nothing functions well with missing pieces.
What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for
social sector work in Michigan?
The Power of We Consortium co-chairs and I believe that there should be more inclusion of grassroots and community-based organizations in social sector planning and resource allocation.
We understand the need to restrict lobbying activities of nonprofits, but there could be a more supportive infrastructure for grassroots advocacy and policy reform. People closer to the ground should be helping to shape priorities and potentially preventing policy-making that is disastrous for vulnerable children and families. These organizations are well positioned to advocate on behalf of their constituents with more effective capacity and social capital. The challenge is where to find the dollars to support the work. Government funded or supported policy councils are potentially compromised by the nature of the source of support, while private foundations can potentially provide the support without the political strings.
Collaborative entities such as the Power of We Consortium are freer to plan and implement strategies without the constraints other organizations might face. While trying to reach collective impact is not easy, we believe the work may be more effective in the long term.
How do you know you’re making progress?
The Power of We Consortium has been tracking 33 indicators of well-being, developed by a community data committee, for Ingham County, as well as the two surrounding counties (Clinton County and Eaton County) over the past 10 years. What affects one county tends to affect the others, and the Power of We Consortium believes that a regional approach to solving complex social problems is more effective than only thinking within one’s county lines. We are all inter-related.
I watch our resources – human and environmental – being relegated to an afterthought at the expense of the gross domestic product.
Times have been very tough, so it’s difficult to see improvements in certain indicators, but these guide the direction of our work. The consortium also collects program-level data for various initiatives to track outcome measures. We are learning that the work of laying a solid foundation of relationships, trust, and education is often hard to measure, yet is critical for future change. Ultimately, when all people have equal access to community resources, services, and education, we will know progress has truly been made.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the growth in the consortium’s diversity of active members from formerly under-represented sectors and ethnicities. Only by hearing these diverse voices can the consortium truly understand community needs. One example of this is getting the voice of parents who are raising young children of color – our Infancy to Innovation program is intentionally seeking these parental voices to guide the work.
The Power of We Consortium is not a 501(c)3 organization with by-laws or articles of incorporation. Rather, it is truly a collaborative “network of networks” that responds to community will. Our consortium is made up of 12 separate community coalitions, and each one is focused on an area of significant need.
The consortium is engaged in a wide variety of community initiatives, such as Infancy to Innovation with our partners – including MSU, the Capital Region Community Foundation and Capital Area United Way – which allow us to impact systems that perpetuate inequities.
What keeps you awake at night?
The United States’ priorities continue to be growth and productivity at all costs, without regard to aspects of social justice, equity, and sustainability. I watch our resources – human and environmental – being relegated to an afterthought at the expense of the gross domestic product. When you take the number of children that are not being supported in their successful educational achievement, the ultimate impact on our whole society is negative. This direction simply cannot be sustained, and we will all eventually pay for the outcome.