This was a weird blog post to sort through. I didn’t expect it to be so hard but I am in a very different situation than most students I feel. I grew up in Europe and that in many respects has kept me from feeling like I really fit in once I got back into the US. I have always felt that my progressive views kept me from fitting in within my own family so the idea of finding someone in a leadership position that I admired was hard. I have worked for the Democratic Party through very unsuccessful times and hugely victorious ones and have been lucky to meet charismatic and highly intelligent policy makers who try their best and believe in doing what’s right. So many of these in fact, it is difficult to pick just one.
In struggling with that, I though about an amazing boss I had when I was first living away from home as an adult. As a child of a seriously dysfunctional family that caused me to almost always be an adult in dysfunctional relationships, I didn’t have much of a grasp on how to be a grown up but I tried. Part of that was applying to work at the Civilian Personnel Office in Fort Meade, Maryland when I came back from Germany. Once hired, I was assigned to work at the One Stop under the supervision of Janine Sinclair. Janine was a force of nature, vibrant, compassionate, and wicked smart. She loved her family and treated each one of her employees as such. On every holiday, she gave each of us gifts, but not the standard stuff, very specific to each one of us. She learned our personalities, dreams and strengths and worked hard to celebrate those qualities in each of us. When I mastered my assigned duties and told her I would like more responsibility, she delivered, seeking training, certifications and promotions for me as much as I could take. She knew that she was not just accomplishing the mission of her particular position but she was helping to mentor and grow valuable long-term employees. I excelled far past what I thought I would there and it was 100% due to her kindness. I left the area and relocated with my spouse at the time and I regretted leaving her many times over the years. Every boss since has been measured against what I knew was possible in a supervisor. Most have fallen short.
As I have grown up, become a parent, been in professional capacities and learned to motivate people, I most hope that my friends and contemporaries look at me much they way I viewed Janine…an advocate in the highest order for sparking possibility in those around me. It is not always easy because some times, people don’t take the opportunities that you offer or don’t capitalize as much as they could. I am trying still to cope with the disappointment that sometimes makes me feel. Hopefully, it makes us all better community members just because we try.