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My Evolution in NLC and Your Revolution in Your Community

Convention Welcome Remarks from NLC’s President CEO, Clare Bresnahan English

August 3, 2022 //Clare Bresnahan English

New Leaders Council is a leaderful movement. That means that rather than a top-down, one-way leadership model, we are powered by a network of leaders who connect and collaborate to guide their chapters. Local leadership, as well as a robust volunteer leadership group at the HQ level called the National Programs Committee (NPC), help inform our staff’s decision-making too. 

To talk about this model and NLC’s direction with our alumni and volunteers, NLC President and CEO Clare Bresnahan English addressed 2022 NLC Convention attendees with the below message. 

 My Evolution in NLC and Your Revolution in Your Community.

Twelve years ago I got a rejection that would transform my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. A friend had recommended I apply for this amazing new leadership program, an NLC chapter in DC. I learned more about the organization through its alumni. It was a grassroots movement of young leaders who wanted something different for this country. Who chose to invest in their own leadership since institutions kept overlooking what they had to offer.  It was a chance to be part of something bigger than myself – it was not only a network in DC but a community across the south, the Midwest, over to California. NLC sounded like a place where I could find my people, my path. 

So when I didn’t get accepted when I first applied, I knew I wasn’t going to give up on NLC. I applied again – and when I got into the 2012 class, there was no looking back. I was hooked. I was committed.

A decade later, I have never been more sure that NLC is both the place that fulfills me and a place where I can make the most impact. 

We’re living through a scary moment. The overturning of Roe. An ever-warming climate. Rights for women and people of color are continuously taken every day. Our country’s regression only grows more terrifying as the years go on. Our leadership is needed more than ever.

We are 10,000 strong across 50 chapters. This movement built by local leaders with their own hearts and hands. I know from experience that this leaderful movement works. 

As a LEAD trainer, I’ve witnessed the impact of our stories. In LEAD, every single Fellow has this shared experience of witnessing and being witnessed in how their personal story drives their leadership. 

These stories transform themselves and one another. Out of those stores comes a depth of connection and belonging we don’t experience in many places. Out of those stories comes possibility, action, and impact. 

Our stories have the power to not only transform hearts and minds but policies and systems. 

Now as NLC’s CEO, when I’m introducing NLC to a new applicant, or supporter, I ask them to think of any issue that keeps them up at night. And I can guarantee there are NLC Fellows working on that cause. 

For example, among our alumni, we have Jose Alfaro, Director of Latinx Leadership & Community Engagement at Everytown for Gun Safety. We have Maria Town leading the American Association of People with Disabilities. Sara El-Emine at Lyft driving the corporate sectors’ response to the overturning of Roe. And elected public servants across the country, including Reps. Lauren Underwood and Nikema Williams in the U.S. Congress. 

This is who we are. We are a new kind of leader. 

Take a moment and imagine how our country’s story would change if it looked like the people in this room at Convention. In our state capitols. In the pitch rooms at major news publications. In the boardrooms of our country’s top businesses and foundations. How would the world look different?

When I look to the future, I envision you in the room where it happens. I imagine you blasting through the doors, opening them wide for your communities. Building new rooms we haven’t yet designed. 

Consider: What room do you want to be in? What room do you want to change? What room do you want to create?

We come together in this room committed to progress, to our community, to one another. In this space of possibility, in this community, surrounded by each of your steadfast commitments to this work and one another – Progress feels inevitable. But for it to be inevitable, we will have to be indomitable. We’ll have to stick together. We’ll have to fight for each other. We’ll have to be relentless in our vision for progress. 

This is not a moment. It’s a movement. Remember this movement is here for you as you make change in the room where it happens