One of my favorite guest speakers during our weekly DCERP meetings was the first speaker we had from Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision, Raquel Garcia. Through her talk, I could tell that Raquel is very passionate about the work she does as SDEV’s CEO. It was also interesting to hear about the workplace structure of SDEV, because it is quite different from the site I have been working at.
First, it is incredible that such a small group of people can have such a profound impact in the community. As Raquel pointed out, there are only a handful of full-time staff at the organization. While this can pose challenges at times, it also allows each and every person to play a central role in the work of the nonprofit. Moreover, it seems like there is a very close bond between the staff members because there are so few of them. I think having a smaller organization can allow everyone to get to know each other and to feel comfortable around each other.
Second, I really admire the horizontal leadership of the organization. In one of my recent Spanish classes, we learned about a type of organization called a cooperativa, that also utilizes a horizontal leadership structure where there is no one “leader” of the organization, but rather everyone is on the same level. It was really cool to see that model mirrored at SDEV and to hear from Raquel herself about why it is important to have a structure like that.
I truly appreciated all of the speakers that joined our meetings because it allowed me the opportunity to learn about the other sites, and other nonprofit organizations in general. It was also really useful for the work I was doing at NSO, because it opened up the door for us to create partnerships between NSO and the other nonprofits that fellows are working with.