Getting to the Core (Values) of the Work

By LIFT on August 25, 2014

Categories: First Person Perspective, Our Work


What can a group of young 20-somethings actually do to make change? For me, my answer to that question is what can’t they do? I’m still searching to find an answer because at LIFT, we inhabit a world that is filled with a Sense of Possibilities. It’s one of our six core values, in fact.

As the Senior Manager of Talent and Culture Development here at LIFT, I recently had the pleasure of managing interviews for our 48 AmeriCorps positions across our six regions and national headquarters. (We had over 200 applicants!) During these conversations, I share LIFT’s six core values and ask questions designed to explore how candidates emblemize those values. For example, I asked candidates to tell me about a time when they collaborated with a team to meet an ambitious goal. As a steward for LIFT’s core values, I don’t just take the six core values off the shelf when conducting interviews and put them back up once the interview is over never to be touched again. The values are our guiding principles for how we do our work each day and I help ensure each person at LIFT touches, interacts with, and feels our core values.

When we tackled a collaboratively ambitious goal of bringing together our entire team from across the country for our first ever Fellows Convening on July 15-17 in DC, the guiding principles of our core values shined through for all of us.

The Fellows Convening was an opportunity for LIFT to train our 48 AmeriCorps National Direct and VISTA Fellows and our 48 full-time staff members in technical areas such as program evaluation, development training, and communication. The Fellows Convening was also an opportunity for us to celebrate and share our culture. Bringing together our team of nearly 100 people became a beautiful celebration of diversity. Our diversity statement, and diversity as a core value at LIFT isn’t just something we wrote to sound inclusive. Our commitment to diversity means having the panoply of thinking, experiences, backgrounds, technical abilities, emotional intelligences and approaches it takes to lift people out of poverty for good. It also means being intentional about building bridges of trust with one another and learning from one another. That intentionality is what allows us to work in concert to change the dialogue about poverty in our country.

Kirsten Lodal, our CEO, commenced our Convening by underscoring us all that we have the human potential to tackle poverty in America. As we all looked around the room, we understood what she meant: that this year was going to be transformative–that we were the team to put our efforts behind the sea change happening in our country around ending poverty. That potential we felt within ourselves and for our team members was accentuated when we heard from AmeriCorps VISTA Director, Paul Montero, as he emphasized the importance of service as a meaningful contribution to bettering our communities and ending poverty.

Our core values were brought to bear at the Fellows Convening even in between trainings and working sessions as we sat side-by-side at lunch and joked about the long lines at the soft-serve ice cream machine. While we shared stories, laughs and hugs, we deepened our relationships with one another—relationships that will prove vital to a team engaged in such critical work across the country.

For me, it’s not difficult to see the impact that our team members at LIFT have on our mission each and every day. I see how we all become better as one unit, and I know that for the rest of the year I’ll continue to be inspired, and I know I’ll forever continue to have no response when thinking about what this team can’t do.