THE NONPROFIT LEADER AS A STONE CATCHER
To catch a stone is to prevent harm and provide support.
Each and every nonprofit is created to do this work.
The work of every nonprofit and every nonprofit leader is that of catching stones. Advocating for the disabled, women, people of color, young people, seniors LGTBQ+, open spaces, the incarcerated, and survivors of torture or trafficking, is stone catching. Retraining workers, reducing violence, supporting creativity, telling stories, building affordable housing, supporting education, increasing access to health care, protecting our environment and nurturing literacy and civic engagement is stone catching. Protecting animals, cultivating peace and conducting research is stone catching. The list is endless. While the activities are all encompassing and varied, the common denominator is that nonprofit organizations and those who lead them, are accomplices in social justice and equity across all parts of society. That makes us stone catchers. It is who we are, intuitively.
Although we are natural stone catchers, it doesn’t mean we don’t need occasions to learn and to develop our leadership skills and courage to do this work. We absolutely do. And that is the intention of Project Stone Catcher.
Project Stone Catcher provides opportunities for nonprofit leaders to develop the skills and understanding necessary to lead nonprofit organizations in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion and to advance social justice issues for the broader community. In alignment with our mission, Project Stone Catcher aims to build a community of stone catchers who trust each other, offer support to one another and provide safe space for exploration and discussion of issues that have historically been difficult to discuss.
The name of this effort is inspired by Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson calls upon those with power and privilege to catch stones – to stand between those who “cast stones” and those who are daily injured by circumstances or structures that encumber one in living their best life. Thus, to be an accomplice in advancing society for all, requires one to be a stone catcher.
Being a stone catcher is not easy or glamourous. More often than not, it is a difficult role to assume and a difficult place to be. Thus, we need to develop our ability to be in these places and to carry the mantle. A supportive community of and for people who stand up for others is essential.
Our instincts call us to community, to working to increase access to resources and experiences that enhance our lives and to encourage and assist those who are struggling. Fieldstone Leadership Network San Diego has always been about supporting nonprofit professionals to do this better. Project Stone Catcher is intentionally intertwined in every program we design and offer because we understand that the call of the nonprofit leader is, in its simplest form, to catch stones.