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Abundant Connection MindOpen’s Quarterly Newsletter

image of collaboratively-created collage, by interns with the Staten Island Urban Center

Dear Reade,

During this winter season, we warmly embrace the theme of Connection, a cornerstone of MindOpen's values. Our introspection has deepened our understanding of MindOpen's role in nurturing connections. This role carries with it the duty to foster vulnerability, build genuine relationships, and create brave spaces for transparency, accountability, and cross-pollination.

At MindOpen, we pride ourselves on cultivating environments where mutual support thrives, through our long-term leadership and career coaching initiatives and field-tested professional development. Our commitment to fostering spaces of bravery and accountability is evident in all our work, from Fair Chance Forward human resources capacity building, to coaching programs like Empowered Career Development for emerging social justice leaders. Central to our mission is the melding of various pedagogical perspectives, a process that not only enriches our learning offerings but also sheds light on inequities that we can address. This commitment is exemplified in experiential curricula like Build to Bloom on confronting levels of racism, P.E.A.C.E. in the House on trauma-informed de-escalation, and Reflective Resilience on power-sharing in supervisory relationships. We continuously strive to bridge gaps and unite diverse strands of thought for a more holistic educational experience.

We invite you to join us in reflecting on the significance of connection in your own experiences. How has this fundamental element shaped your path? Let's contemplate and celebrate the bonds we've nurtured and the bridges we build together.

Have a response to anything in this newsletter, a challenge to share, or an idea for how we could work together? Let’s talk! 

With deep care for the safety and thriving of you and yours,

Elizabeth Speck, Founder & Principal


On Wednesday, February 7, 2024, 1:00–3:00 pm ET, Mind Open will host a virtual Fair Chance Community Conversation with Person Centered Care Services (PCCS), focused on how hiring strategies that include people with past criminal convictions help companies and communities thrive. PCCS participated in our Fair Chance Forward organizational change consultation, and we’re so excited to share the evaluation results of this promising practice! Regster for free here:

  • MindOpen founder, Elizabeth Speck, is “back in school” this semester, joining Cohort 41 of the prestigious 10,000 Small Business Program, a partnership between Goldman Sachs, Babson College, and CUNY LaGuardia Community College. This intensive program helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses for sustainability and social impact, by providing access to education, capital, and business support services. Participants also gain access to a dynamic international peer alumni network. We are in good company in this cohort with frequent collaborator Melissa Elliot of Agape Family Therapy & Coaching, and Cohort 40 graduate Orumé Hays, our bookkeeper and business finance advisor with Hays CPA.  

  • Make sure to check out and sign up for updates on the newly launched website of The Reentry Institute of America, our partner in providing Fair Chance Forward training and consulting. Congratulations to CEO Tarik Greene and team, as they continue to expand their impact in dignified housing and individualized employment services for returning citizens.

  • This season we also say farewell to our talented Communications Coordinator, Samantha King. Throughout the past year, Samantha has been instrumental in broadening our social media presence and fostering connections with our community organizations. Her positive spirit and communication skills have been invaluable to our team. As she transitions from this role, we wish her the best in her future professional endeavors. Sam's contributions will be greatly missed, and we're excited to see where her talents take her next.

  • While working at Mind Open, Samantha wrote this important blog on Imposter Syndrome & Intersectionality highlighting the existence of imposter syndrome, particularly in BIPOC, women of color, and people with disabilities, and how systemic issues including underrepresentation, and workplace inaccessibility exacerbate self-doubt.

  • We are in the midst of Empowered Career Development coaching for the Tow Fellows at the Institute for Justice and Opportunity at CUNY John Jay College. This program prepares emerging change agents to build sustainable careers for social justice. We partner students with civically engaged professionals who provide one-on-one mentorship for professional and personal goal development, including resume preparation, mock interviews, network building, and personal branding. We also provide customized, relevant, site-specific training and workshops that center the lived experience of first-generation and BIPOC students regarding their career search, covering topics like locating the hidden job market, salary negotiation, and informational interviews.

Orientation to our Empowered Career Development coaching with the Tow Fellows, at the Institute for Justice and Opportunity at CUNY John Jay College. (photo credit: Kameryn Rose)

At Rockland Works with our Fair Chance Forward program, training workforce development staff and launching the HR Peer Learning Cohort. (top photo credit: Rockland BOCES)

Returning to Henry Street Settlement to facilitate Build to Bloom: Towards Anti-racist, Trauma-informed Human Services.

Hosting Make Ideas Work’s workshop series on The Essentials of Successful Project and Time Management, for grantees of the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative.

Making time to connect in Gala and Conference season! Proud to support catalysts of change CANVAS Institute, Custom Collaborative, Exodus Transitional Community, Legal Action Center, NY Center for Interpersonal Development, NY Criminal Justice Agency, RISE parent leadership, and membership organizations Nonprofit NY and Nonprofit SI.

Resource directories play a crucial role in connecting individuals and communities to health, human, and social services. Check out this White Paper, Producing Resource Directory Information as a Public Good by the Open Referral Initiative which offers insight into how these directories facilitate connections. Emphasizing community-specific approaches and open standards for data exchange, the initiative makes resource directory information a reliable, sustainable public good, facilitating effective connections between service seekers and providers.

When reflecting on connection, it's imperative to consider our connection to the land. Check out this important episode by the Sum of Us Podcast on Memphis, TN: Environmental Racism & The Right to Clean Water.

Language Justice allows communities across the world to share our struggles, visions, and humanity in the languages and the ways that are truest to us. With a Language Justice framework, we can envision multilingual movements, openings, and opportunities for connection, solidarity, decolonization, and abolition. Check out this Language Justice Reflections Workbook created by the Move to End Violence to reflect on your own Language Justice experiences and praxis as a part of facilitating connections.



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