One of the scariest moments of my life was the first day of business school. I spent more than a decade in the nonprofit sector and decided to go back to school full-time to get my MBA at Duke University. Although I had had a series of successes for Phoenix House and the American Heart Association, I must admit I felt very small and inconsequential when I filed into the auditorium, surrounded by captains of industry, to hear the dean speak. I was just a small-town girl from Texas who had a dream of making a difference in the world. Would I know enough? Was I smart enough? Could I compete with folks from the corporate world? I was lost in a haze of my own thoughts and doubts until the dean said this: “There is no growth in comfort, and there is no comfort in growth.” When I heard this, my back straightened and I realized I was in exactly the right place. I was just growing. Since then, I have pushed myself to keep growing and never stay too comfortable.
After earning my MBA, I came home to Dallas to start Social Impact Architects and, more importantly, to use my skills to create a better Dallas. I continued to grow and pursued social change with passion. Yet, the poverty rate in my community was getting worse, and no one seemed to have a real plan for moving the needle. I did what we social entrepreneurs do – I dove in, developed ideas and presentations, held meetings and talked to policymakers about options for system change. However, change was slow – too slow. In mid-December, the board member from my district got a new job as Education Commissioner, and in that instant my life changed. I began getting calls encouraging me to run for his vacant seat, and the rest is history. I announced my candidacy for Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees on January 19, 2016, and suddenly, the nervous exhilaration I felt on the first day of business school had been eclipsed.
As my loyal readers know, I love Theodore Roosevelt’s quote: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena… who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Being a woman in this very public arena is scary, but also incredibly exhilarating. I have learned so much in the last two weeks – drinking from the proverbial fire hose. I’ve met people who will be friends for life.
I struggled with whether to tell my readers via this blog. But, this blog has become such an important part of my life, and, through your messages of support as well as ideas each week, I feel we are connected as a family in our commitment to be changemakers. I couldn’t not share this next step in my changemaker journey. I also hope through my journey many of you consider taking the same leap – we need more innovative, thoughtful and capable people running for office.
I have also learned campaigns are a great way to connect people around ideas and aspirations. I welcome your thoughts as I develop my platform – what would you do if you could be a school board trustee for day? I really would value your suggestions.
Social TrendSpotters, as my family of changemakers, I’d also love your support between now and election day on May 7th. You can go to my new campaign website (www.smith4disd.com) and endorse, donate or send words of encouragement. For those who live in North Texas, I will be sending a separate email on how you can help volunteer and support my campaign.
You can bet I’m out of my comfort zone by entering the arena, but I am loving every minute. Many thanks for being loyal supporters and readers for the past three years. Whether I am elected or not, I will continue sharing my journey as well as the latest trends in the social sector with you via Social TrendSpotter. I look forward to continuing to learn, grow and raise awareness about issues important to our communities for many years to come.