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08 Dec 2014
Erin Howard: Transformative, Grounded Coaching

I had the honor of being coached by Rusia for 6 months. For 10 years, I have dedicated every aspect of my life to the immigrant rights movement and to efforts focused on educational equity and youth leadership development in Lexington, KY. While my passion drives me, there have been many times that I have felt lost in the work and consumed in the many needs. I would wrestle with guilt when I physically could not give anymore, and I would feel a deep sense of restlessness that I, in my leadership, was not enough. I struggled to find balance, prioritize efforts, and respect my own humanity.

Rusia challenged me from our very first session to integrate two new practices into my day – meditation and journaling – as well as to shift my mentality on movement in order to embrace the vision I had for my leadership. The one outlet I have always practiced was movement: working out, dancing, yoga, gymnastics, sports. But more as an effort to stay healthy, not as an means through which I could cultivate my creative, authentic and radically hopeful leadership. By integrating mediation and journaling and embracing movement as a conduit of connecting my mind and body, I experienced and continue to experience a tremendous amount of healing, appreciation, and love for myself, the work I *get* to to do, and those with whom I lead.

I am a commitment to empowering those directly impacted– the youth and their families– for the sake of an inclusive and just community. I forgive myself when I don’t get it right; I seek understanding and keep an open mind when I need to be grounded. I am a commitment to creative leadership, to selfless listening, and to radical hope because my dream, my purpose is to help those that I meet become all they have been created to be.

Until my coaching with Rusia, I had not fully appreciated and embraced the creative, peace-building, and innocent manner of my leadership. I had not imagined and created a vision for my leadership, either. I even went as far as discounting major components of who I am to work within the system of education. Yet, she helped me find the words to articulate my presence; I can say unapologetically that, for this moment in my life, I am committed to working from within higher education to bare witness, to leverage resources and to create spaces for all who the system by nature and structure leaves out. Because this is exhausting and often times a mismatch of values and purpose, Rusia also guided me to ask those closest to me for the encouragement and affirmation I needed to keep going. I found peace and power in seeking this encouragement, and the vulnerability of doing so has deepened not only my leadership but also my friendships and collaborations.

Her coaching has helped me become a better mentor and supervisor. I cannot claim that I no longer struggle with taking on too much and losing myself in the work. My passion still gets the best of me. Yet, I have learned to identify the imbalances and conditioned tendencies that drain and degrade me. My awareness of the needs of others has increased; my concern to seek understanding has deepened; and I have begun to embrace my deep sense of empathy as a strength as opposed to an uncomfortable or embarrassing shortcoming. It takes strength to bare one’s soul and emotions- shared joy, shared tears, shared frustration, shared hurt, shared hope- this helps a community grow.

I have stepped into the mantra that I will fiercely defend spaces, resources and leadership roles for those directly impacted by the issues I passionately work to address. I am a commitment to empowering those directly impacted– the youth and their families– for the sake of an inclusive and just community. I forgive myself when I don’t get it right; I seek understanding and keep an open mind when I need to be grounded. I am a commitment to creative leadership, to selfless listening, and to radical hope because my dream, my purpose is to help those that I meet become all they have been created to be.

Rusia’s coaching helped me articulate this vision. I found my center– my sweet spot, my super powers. And while the struggles are many still and the injustices hurting and dehumanizing our communities seem to be overcoming and overwhelming, the movement, mediation and journaling I practice help remind me that I am connected to a loving, powerful people. Our connectedness is our existence, and even though I can’t fix it all, I have an important part to contribute that depends on my creativity, my humanity, and my passion to mold a rising generation of leaders.

Thank you, Rusia, for teaching me to breath, for teaching me to honor my humanity, for encouraging my creative, movement-based leadership and for empowering me to find the words to embrace and speak life to my commitments and my story.

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17 Nov 2014
#30DaysUP: a buck fifty a day
Rusia
0

snapshot: what’s #30DaysUP + what do you get?

reg_button30DaysUP

are you ready to change your life in 60 days?

we’re ready to take things up a notch in this next round of #30DaysUP! Like, before, we want to challenge + support you to develop superpowers that increase your self-awareness, your awareness or others, + now, unlike before, it’s all about growing happiness from the seeds of our suffering.

what will i get from engaging in this challenge?

other than serious superpowers (do I really need to go further…), here are the concrete offerings of this challenge:

  • the first 14 folks who register will get the DayOne app for free (Mac or iPhone versions), Apple Design 2014 Award winner + the best journaling app out there.
  • video tutorial on how to meditate, narrated by angel Kyodo williams.
  • weekly offerings that will help unpack areas of suffering in your life towards transforming them into happiness that will have a meaningful impact on you + your leadership.
  • a private community for you to share your thoughts + questions + get support!
  • a formal check-in for all participants to share + get support via a video (or audio, if you prefer) conference. will include some key tools to continue your practice.
  • one 1:1 session with Rusia Mohiuddin, by request within the 60 days of the challenge period.

how will this challenge transform my leadership?

the change process this challenge will catalyze is two-fold:

  1. cultivating self-awareness will sharpen your focus, level your mood, + allow you to more accurately see what is, as it is happening. this is essential to powerful + impactful leadership that motivates + inspires others.
  2. beginning to understand our own suffering + how we can create self-compassion from it, will intentionally shape your leadership + your interactions with authentic compassion for others.

like most things, there are many layers to these main takeaways. Lucia Gomez-Jimenez wrote about these many layers after the first round of #30DaysUp.

what do i have to do?

nothing. we want it to be about choice not absolutes. :)
bare bones, we want you to chose to complete 30 consecutive days of meditation in 60 days. this means, you can start on day 1 of the challenge, do 7 days of meditation, perhaps miss a day or two, + still have time to start over at 1 + be able to complete 30 straight days of meditation before the challenge ends.

dope.

essentially, there is one thing you will want to do to successfully complete the challenge… meditate at least 5 minutes every day for 30 consecutive days.
pretty easy, huh?
you can also chose to the following things, as well, that will dramatically enhance + solidify your practice towards embodying your new superpowers:

  • journal every day to log your progress + the many things that come up for you from day to day. since this challenge has a theme of growing happiness from our suffering, journaling your thoughts + experiences will be a healthy + healing way to progress throughout the 60 days.
  • share your progress with the #30DaysUP community or your own community. this is a great way to stay motivated + motivate others. inspiration is a big part of this work, both for you + for others. last round, many folks used the DayOne app publishing feature to post to twitter + facebook to share their progress + inspire many to join or renew their own meditation practice. it was quite the mini revolution!
  • invite others to sit with you! sharing is caring + sitting with others is something rather beautiful.

 need more info?

that’s cool. email us directly at rusia@universalpartnership.org

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07 Nov 2014
#OIS 2015: #freeyourbody
Rusia
0

registration opens 11-7-14

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#freeyourbody

FEBRUARY 27th-MARCH 1st, 2015                       

deepen your self-knowledge + unleash your true leadership potential

no matter who we are, + what we do, our leadership presence + style is deeply shaped by our environment + our contexts. Our soma, (so-mah: the body in its living wholeness) comprising of our biology, socio-economic status, histories, political environment, psychological + spiritual landscapes determine + influence who we are + how we show up in the world. It is by deeply understanding our soma + somatic shape that we can identify what holds us back + help us leap into + live through our true leadership potential.

what

the Oppression in the Soma Retreat uses a somatic lens to un-layer, unpack + reveal the many ways oppression limits our ability to align our leadership with the values + principles that drive our work. By awakening deep understanding, this training enables individuals to generate new pathways towards a wholesome + complete shape that can hold our true individual + collective leadership potential.

how

somatics is a methodology that combines the biological + social sciences to provide a framework for analysis + action. at its core, somatics posits interconnection + balance of mind, body, + mood.

the use of somatics in leadership, begins by examining unconscious practiced behaviors, established by our interactions with family, community, + society throughout our lives, that blocks us from taking empowered action on our own behalf + ultimately aligning our behavior with our values + principles. it continues by establishing physical, emotional, + mental practices that shake up + shed these binds.

who

this retreat is open to anyone interested in deepening self-knowledge + tapping into their full leadership potential. it is particularly useful for those who view + navigate in the world through a socio-political lens including; community organizers, advocates, activists, yoga practitioners, coaches, healers + more.

cost

for a limited period of time, we are offering an EARLY BIRD SPECIAL for $647 per individual.
once this special expires, the regular tuition fee will be $689.

here’s what you will get…

* room+ board at garrison institute

* participant fee for retreat

* jo: a japanese aikido staff for practice (you get to keep this)

when + where

February 27th – March 1st, 2015

Garrison Institute
14 Mary’s Way, Route 9D
Garrison,, NY 10524 (845) 424-4800
At Universal Partnership, we honor each individual’s commitment to personal transformation, + recognize that this work can be at once challenging + healing. Through this retreat, we at Universal Partnership do our best to ensure a comfortable, safe + spacious environment through which each individual can learn, challenge + take care of themselves at their own pace. Join us!

If you have any questions, please reach out to Sethu, out fabulous retreat coordinator, at sethu@universalpartnership.org

facilitators + staff

UP_RusiaRusia N. Mohiuddin, the Principle of Universal Partnership, is a leadership trainer & certified somatic coach, who pioneered the integration of somatics into an organizing framework. Her current mission, through Universal Partnership, has been developing a holistic model for social justice change work that places in its center the necessary transformation of social change agents. Rusia brings a unique style to creating pathways for individuals to bring their best selves forward when enacting social change in their organizations & communities. Learn more about Rusia + UP…

akw-public_PRINTCalled “the most vocal and most intriguing African-American Buddhist in America,” by Library Journal, Rev. angel Kyodo williams Sensei, is an author, maverick spiritual teacher and master trainer and founder of Center for Transformative Change. She has been bridging the worlds of personal transformation and justice since the publication of her critically-acclaimed book, Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace. Her book was hailed as “an act of love” by Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker and “a classic” by Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. Ordained as a Zen priest, she recently became the second black woman recognized as a Zen teacher.

angel is an early shaper and leading voice for Transformative Social Change, and coined the name for the field. She has developed comprehensive systems for illuminating both practical personal change and the profoundly liberating potential of mindfulness, yoga, and somatic practices coupled with wisdom teachings.  Both fierce and grounded, angel is known for her unflinching willingness to sit with and speak uncomfortable truths with love. She notes, “Love and justice are not two. Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters.”  Whether in writing, teaching or speaking, her voice is unique. Learn more about angel…

seeduSethu Nair is a synergist who combines her experiences and knack in communications, relationship building + understanding conflict in her work as Communications Strategist, Mediator + Writer.

 

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04 Nov 2014
#30DaysUP… is back at it again!
Rusia
0

roots-of-the-lotus

we’re getting ready to be at it again… transforming leadership from the inside out is what #30DaysUP is all about.

our first round was a roaring success with 56 leaders across the country, meditating for 5 minutes EVERY SINGLE DAY.

so sweet!

this second round, we’re taking it up a notch… deepening our leadership by creating sincere + authentic happiness in our lives through meditation.

say what, willis?

yeah, you heard me right. mediation, happiness, leadership, humanity, + YOU!

stayed tuned by dropping a comment here on this post or email rusia@universalpartnership.org

it’s about to go down… start the new year off right + set yourself up for leadership success.

 

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28 Oct 2014
a picture tells a thousand words…
Rusia
0

[zoomshowcase name=”#OIS2014″ /]

…but a picture with words can tell the whole story. #OIS

we’re going to do all again in the winter of 2015. tell your friends!

for more info, please email us at events@universalpartnership.org

 

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06 Oct 2014
in the deep end for liberation
Rusia
0

a beautiful Fall backdrop ushered in the weekend of Oppression In the Soma retreat at Garrison Institute on Friday, September 26th, 2014. it was an amazing retreat, with amazing participants, who dove deep in for self- + collective liberation.

over the next few weeks, we will share more on what we did + what we accomplished. for now, here are a few things folks shared with us about the retreat + their experiences.

on the option to fundraise their way to the retreat:

“the crowdsourcing piece of the Oppression in the Soma retreat was truly gratifying and humbling. The process of putting out the call and receiving was a transformative lesson in itself! And it really added to my whole retreat experience to enter with the support of my community. People who have very limited engagement with somatics, buddhism, or social justice are asking me about it with open ears and hearts. Powerful means to broaden the reach of the wisdom you offer beyond the immediate retreat participants! Thank you for providing an easy tool to raise funds. Without it, I would not have been able to join in the fun! Much gratitude and bless.”
- Danielle saint louis

on the personal transformation tip towards self-liberation:

“I feel like I literally have new eyes, choices I didn’t see as choices before, belief in myself, and a reclaiming of lies/frameworks that I no longer need.  I feel very precise with my words. I’m sleeping alot and just want water and grapes (even tho they taste too sweet) and kale.  I feel like I always am telling the truth.  I see love in everything.  I see human bodies with their spirits in them.  I hear what their souls are saying through their bodies through the other stuff that comes out of their mouth.  I feel decisive but not rushed.  I feel light/ease and peace.  And I feel, with a new word to use, spacious.  I feel like making choices that make me better and the world better all at once because they are one decision.”

on self-love + gratitude:

“Signing up for this training itself is an act of self-love. No matter where you are in your personal transformation, healing and commitment to social justice – the ‘Oppression in the Soma’ training is essential to getting started and continuing”
-sethu nair

the right place, at the right time for this life changing experience:

“Attending the Oppression in the Soma retreat with Rusia Mohiuddin and angel Kyodo williams was a truly life changing experience for me. When I entered the retreat I was skeptical, but I opened my mind and heart and put my trust into the facilitators who made me feel very comfortable with them both right away. I came to the retreat exhausted, burnt out, and just not sure what I needed to do to start a process of healing that had been a long time coming for me. By the time the retreat was over I felt like I had learned so much about myself and how oppression becomes locked in the soma that I was finally ready to begin working through and processing both past and recent traumas and start truly start to heal. I will begin one on one consultations with Rusia soon to continue the work that I have started. I have already begun to tell all of my friends about what a transformative experience I have had and I especially recommend this retreat to anyone whose identity is the target of multiple intersecting systems of oppression and who is engaged in various resistance movements and struggles for collective liberation.”
-kat young-stevens

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16 Aug 2014
locked in your body + holding you back
#freeyourbody

 

REGISTER NOW!

#freeyourbody: unleash your leadership potential
9/26-28/2014

a retreat of exploration + change

this is a retreat for anyone, working in any field, who is passionate about social justice. if you have a socio-political lens with which you view + navigate the world, then this retreat is a must for you. Organizers, activists, yoga teachers + practitioners, coaches, dharma community members, advocates alike require this space to deepen self-knowledge + leap into the next strata of personal leadership.

if you are free of unwanted baggage, then this retreat is not for you.

when we think about our leadership in the context of the socio, political, economical, + environmental landscapes, we inevitably come up against the deeply embedded ways in which systems of oppression continually shape who + how we are in the world. oppression is locked in the body. you cannot think oppression out of your body. this retreat aims to explore, with a somatic lens, the many ways in which oppression limits our ability to acutely align our leadership with the values + principles that drive our work. By exploring the impact of social, economic, + political conditions, the oppressive nature of how these spheres function in our society, we can ultimately reveal the depths in which these oppressive societal conditions live in our beings + how it can limit the impact of our individual + collective leadership.

soma (so-mah): the body in its living wholeness

why a somatic lens?
somatics is a sophisticated methodology combining the biological + social sciences to provide a framework for analysis + action. the core ideology of somatics posits the undeniable interconnection + indispensable balance of mind, body, + mood. 

the use of somatics in leadership, begins by examining unconscious practiced behaviors, established by our interactions with family, community, + society throughout our lives, that blocks us from taking empowered action on our own behalf + ultimately aligning our behavior with our values + principles. it continues by establishing physical, emotional, + mental practices that shake up + shed these binds. 

September 26-28th 2014

Garrison Institute

design + facilitation by

rusia n. mohiuddin with angel Kyodo williams 

REGISTER NOW!

many ways to support yourself + others

we want to make giving to + attending this retreat possible for everyone who has a yearning for social justice + self-cultivation. here are some ways in which you can get involved!

retreat fees a hinderance to attending? don’t sweat it! 
email us at events@universalpartnership.org + we will add you to our razoo team so you can raise your individual fees with some DIY crowdfunding… DOPE!

can’t attend but love it so much you wanna support?

kick us a donation at any of the following links:

   

did we miss something?

don’t hesitate to email us with questions or comments at events@universalpartnership.org

“transforming the truth to love requires knowing the truth about our own leadership.”  -Rusia Mohiuddin, Principle @ Universal Partnership

tuition + room fees

registration is a 2-step process: register HERE for the retreat + pay the modest tuition fee then visit the garrison institute to register for room + board

fees for room, food (2 nights) range from $100-$130 per night (not included in the fees listed below)

the remaining tuition fees are as follows + can be paid through the retreat registration process or at our eventbrite page:

individual = EARLY BIRD SPECIAL $300.00. REG. PRICE $389.00 (if you would like to participant, sans any affiliation with an organization)

organization = $240.00 – $640 (if you would like to participate through your organization + with organizational resources. sliding scale based on organizational budget)

  • $150,000 or less organizational budget: tuition fee is $300/person + room & board
  • $250,000 or less organizational budget: tuition fee is $350/person + room & board
  • $500,000 or less organizational budget: tuition fee is $400/person + room & board
  • $750,000 or less organizational budget: tuition fee is $500/person + room & board
  • $1,000,000 or more organizational budget: tuition fee is $650/person + room & board

be an event sponsor = $100.00 (individuals + organizations can become event sponsors by making a donation of $100 or more)

sponsor a friend = EARLY BIRD SPECIAL $300.00. REG. PRICE $389.00 (can’t make it to the retreat yourself? know someone who can really benefit? sponsor a someone to attend the retreat)

make a donation = $20.00+ (every little bit we raise makes it that much more accessible for folks to attend the retreat)

REGISTER NOW!

 

Rusia N. Mohiuddin, the Principle of Universal Partnership, is a leadership trainer & certified somatic coach, who pioneered the integration of somatics into an organizing framework. Read more…
Called “the most vocal and most intriguing African-American Buddhist in America,” by Library Journal, Rev. angel Kyodo williams Sensei, is an author, maverick spiritual teacher and master trainer and founder of Center for Transformative Change. Read more…
casey johanna, Retreat Coordinator, is a human being, born & raised in Brooklyn, NY. A child of the African & Asian diasporas, via family lineage in Guyana, they believed health & well-being are necessary components of liberation. Read more…

 

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limited space, register now

for more information + special requests, please email

events@universalpartnership.org

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14 Jul 2014
a retreat of exploration + change
Rusia
0

 

reg_buttonwhen we think about our leadership in the context of the socio, political, economical, + environmental landscapes, we inevitably come up against the deeply embedded ways in which systems of oppression continually shape who + how we are in the world. this retreat aims to explore, with a somatic lens, the many ways in which oppression limits our ability to align our leadership, acutely, with the values + principles that drive our work. By exploring the impact of social, economic, + political conditions, the oppressive nature of how these spheres function in our society, we can ultimately reveal the depths in which these oppressive societal conditions live in our beings + how it can limit the impact of our individual + collective leadership.

 

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS UPCOMING RETREAT, PLEASE CLICK HERE

 

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20 Jun 2014
ypp: the sum of us is courage personified
Rusia
0

click to watch on mobile device

it is true that what we can accomplish together is far greater than what can do on our own. however, the skills and qualities of the individuals who make up the sum, greatly impacts the effectiveness of what they can achieve together. it is with this intention, that we must cultivate our individual leadership, that the Youth Power Project of Make the Road NY assembled for a staff development retreat to learn about embodied leadership at the headquarters of Universal Partnership.

having worked on aligning their values and principles on an organizational level at a recent staff retreat with the principle of UP, Rusia Mohiuddin, the staff traveled outside of the city to dive deep and explore the qualities of their individual leadership towards envisioning how they want to intentionally show up in the world. what resulted was truly an authentic display of strength, camaraderie and courage.

the training was really impactful… I feel stronger as an individual and as a woman. anyone who has the opportunity to embrace themselves, they way I did today, is truly fortunate.
-Adilka Pimental, YPP Staff

YPP-MRNY-201430

Dana, Cynthia & Jessica share their leadership visions

each staffer explored their historical shaping to learn about their current somatic shape. this is no small feat but rather a huge leap towards embracing their histories, appreciating all of what makes them who they are and accepting that they can chose to change in order to create greater inner alignment to how they want their leadership to be in the world. unequivocally brilliant!

the staff team also practiced the 31 Jo Kata to assess their individual leadership and how it shows up in action. practicing as a whole team, ypp staff gained insight into their group dynamics and learned where they need to make both individual and collective leadership adjustments.

the jo practice makes me feel like a warrior!
-Mateo Tabares

at the end of a long day, each of them had practices developed to inch them towards their vision for their leadership and a set of collective practices to do as a whole team.

cultivating embodied leadership is an act of courage and self-love. the staff of youth power project of make the road ny, summoned this and then some. Check out THIS VIDEO to learn more about ypp’s experience with Universal Partnership’s Embodied Leadership. To learn more about the work of YPP, please visit MAKE THE ROAD NY.

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10 Jun 2014
Lucia Gomez-Jimenez + #30DaysUP

I admit that I enjoy and actually look for a good challenge. I thrive in challenging environments. I make the best of a given situation and feel comfortable assessing and navigating rough waters. Therefore when I saw Universal Partnership’s #30daysUP meditation challenge, I thought – why not? A challenge to sit, meditate, and clear my mind – let’s go! I knew I needed it, my mind was running game all over me!

I will admit, this challenge came in a good time for me – I was prime to do something to better manage my emotional and professional state of mind. I had just undergone quite a brutal beatdown when having to deal with extremely untrustworthy individuals and hoping they would do what is best for the people they represent. Unfortunately, my hopes were set too high and I entered full body, heart, mind and soul without the appropriate gear to manage it all. In the past, I had used meditation as a tool to help me cope with the daily strain on my body and heart when the daily job of LIFE took a toll on me. I will admit that during this time I had some other kinds of support. A friend of mine – let’s call him Smarty, really kicked into gear during this time. He helped me by listening, informally coaching, and highlighting aspects of my thought-process and communication skills that I had overlooked needed major work. Just imagine – I got two gifts from him, a book called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity and the Mind-Map Book. Now, if that’s not an indication of the “troubles” he saw in my flow, than I’m not sure what else could be.

Along comes the #30daysUP challenge and I will admit – it really took me to the next level of my evolution. I started on April 7th and I am still going strong. I can’t lie, there was a moment that I sat up to 18 minutes…then I had to go back down to 3 minutes! I’m now back up to 11 minutes and every day working my way up to my goal of 15 minutes daily. I can see things in a way that I never had before. I’m more open and less reactive. I have noticed that when something is triggering me, I know that breathing can get me through it – so I inhale, take in the moment – and exhale. I then am ready to either respond, or simply let it go until I can really handle the reaction that will follow in a productive way.

Just last week, I knew that if I didn’t meditate every day, I wasn’t going to get through it all – but it was more than just the meditation. Its as if I started paying attention and being more present in all aspects of my life. I have not only kept meditating beyond the 30 days (sometimes more than once a day when I feel the need to reboot), but when I do miss a day – I’m not as hard on myself and immediately get back to it the next day. I have also started to write in my journal, listen to music, and read. It’s as if I’ve slowed down – but not necessarily my work flow or productivity, just what I prioritize and emphasize as needing immediate and stressful attention. Sometimes, my days are jammed with non-stop activity, but I can now stop, take a moment to take-in what is happening, and assess my next steps.

For example, one of the ways I used to manage relationships was going straight to the point without too much fluff or thought on who I was speaking to. So much so that at times I had no filter and it was as if I was interacting with objects that didn’t feel or react as a result of what I was saying and doing. My self-awareness was a bit off…to say the least. Am I 100% aware now? Not 100%, but definitely much more aware than I have ever been and working towards a much clearer and purpose-driven self. The #30daysUP challenge wasn’t the only time I started meditating. I had been doing it on and off for about two years. Yet, seeing the UP’s mind the gap video, the structure, the posts and the tweets got me excited to be a part of something with a community of individuals who were striving to simply become better for the sake of helping others be better. It’s what got me motivated to really try to stick to it and stay on course.

The idea that a daily practice could help re-train my mind to reconnect with my heart, my breath, my body, and ultimately with others is truly fascinating to me. So simple, yet it took me this long to get here.

Meditation was not like other stress-coping mechanisms like when I choose to write in my journal or swim, but it has helped me reflect and re-train my eyes to see, my heart to feel, and my mind to think about what is there in that present moment. I’ve learned to identify in much less time the things that make me happy, mad and those that take me off course and ultimately procrastinate. My mood is much less random, and I can actually feel and understand what is going on with my body and where my mind is. I value the present so much more than I ever have, and I know it can only get better. Thank you Rusia, #30daysUp and all who participated. Let’s keep it going!

Lucia is the Executive Director of La Fuente

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22 May 2014
regarding oneness
Rusia
0

For over a decade, the use of the word transformation has become more and more prevalent in our movements’ work. Whatever the varying definitions of what transformation means, essentially we use it as an indicator for our desire to bring the present toward something more just and equitable… permanently. The institutionalization of the terms “transformation” and “transformative” brought with it the emergence of those who identified themselves as transformational leaders – those who we identified as transformational leaders, and to whom we attribute specific innovation and substantial work bringing transformative practices to the rest of us.

And then, it seems, just like that, some of this work imploded.

In the Fall of 2013, news of inappropriate behavior within one of the more prominent intermediaries in the U.S. sparked controversy that soon ballooned to involve many individuals, as we heard more and more about movement leaders and transformational trainers having unethical sexual relationships. The fallout is huge, yet largely unknown, and continues to affect countless relationships and individuals across and beyond the transformational movement arena.

Over these last 9 months, folks across the country have been grappling with what actually happened, and like any other time something big goes really wrong, folks look to locate the root cause, the exact who and exactly what, of the matter. Typically, when there are gaps in our knowledge of what has happened, we create a sense of safety by making things up to fill the space. And since the main characters have yet to publicly share their own experiences, we’ve developed our own narratives about what happened that, having arisen from our anger and sense of betrayal, serves to only deepen those feelings.

The essence of the situation is this: a handful of people that our movements have admired, to whom we’ve exposed our vulnerabilities, betrayed our trust. That hurts. And that makes us want to turn away and run from anything they’re associated with. And so, folks ran. In fact, folks outright abandoned these leaders, and some shunned the work and concepts they represent. Let’s face it. It is downright scandalous. None of this has felt right to anyone involved. None of this has been right for our movements and we need to do something to change this.

I have been engaged in transformational work for almost nine years; both in my own life as well as an integral part of the work I do in service of our collective movement. I have a personal stake in how these events are interpreted and how we move out of this place of distrust and hurt. I feel a sense of responsibility to give voice to what I have witnessed and to offer a perspective of what happened in the hopes that we can move towards greater understanding and healing.

Otherness. Otherness is what really happened.

Otherness on the leader level: we are not immune to the trappings of power and being seen as other than everyone else. It is easy to create an ever-widening imbalance in our relationships that propels our individual identity, our needs, and feelings above those who we are charged and trusted to serve. This happens when what we desire, on behalf of others, is overcome by our desire to be seen. And then it’s just our egos with little to no room in between. Tragically, the first thing to go here is the discipline of being the change we seek to manifest in the world.

The lowest bar for a transformational trainer is to be authentic by practicing what we preach. A high bar is to engage in guided transformational personal practice. Without either of these, there is otherness. Practice for the sake of practice serves the ego and rarely anything else. Stand-alone practice, without purpose and guidance does not achieve transformation, regardless of the time and effort put into it. It is true that 3000 repetitions may indeed achieve physical mastery but all this means is that the repetition will be in our bodies. That is it. It does not mean that the kind of embodiment occurs in which we transform our emotional or spiritual bodies. This is one way practice in service of ego happens.

When we serve our egos, we create otherness to distinguish ourselves. To elevate our egos, and make true our false narratives that we are better and more evolved, allows us to use others, whose service we are truly charged with, turn it on its head, to further serve our egos. Teaching practice in absence of our own intentional practice is the failed attempt to deeply understand that which is beyond our own experience. This is not transformational. Not even close.

Our work is truly righteous and thus has inherent opportunities for bigger ethical trappings. We wear the armor of the high moral ground that fighting for a just society affords us. When that armor is affixed with badges of freedom-fighting slogans, they become mere rhetoric because we use that as our grounding instead of continued, cultivated inner strength and knowing.

And, no individual does this on their own. We help by unwittingly servicing otherness.

Otherness on the witness level: Our complicity in creating and sustaining otherness is multifold. Psychologically, we do so by drawing distinct lines between ourselves and those we look up to as leaders. We create hierarchies that falsely place our leaders above us, rather than as an extension of ourselves, which adheres to a narrative of personal inadequacy while also attaching a superior status to these leaders that can deprive them of their humanity.

Like the masks we can wear to hide ourselves from the world around us, we similarly throw masks on leaders to hide big and small flaws alike. This, too, is complicity and perpetuation. We compromise our own principles to maintain loyalty, as if they are competing factors when they are, in fact, one and the same. Our principles largely hinge on being loyal to ourselves and each of us to everyone, regardless of anyone’s particular role. Exercising that loyalty means calling upon each other to authentically claim our humanity, including missteps in our own actions. We further exercise that loyalty by lovingly and openly holding each other to account, and testifying to disruptive and hurtful impacts when they occur.

Like all magical illusions, eventually, there is a big reveal. The moment, in which we can no longer hold up the masks and our own blinders, where “what really is” lies before us as surely as the sun shines. And we are shocked to our cores. We are consumed with disbelief, anger and betrayal. We don’t stay in relationship. Of course, we don’t. We run. We run and that creates yet another layer of otherness.

I believe it’s normal to run because we need to take care of ourselves and make sense of the disrupted things around us. Fine. Run. It can be healthy. But when we run and stay running, are we really creating a world that is just? That is fueled by and centered on love? It is these very moments, where we chose to create great distance, when what we truly believe becomes distorted. Here we fail to see that the things we aspire to be, that is emulated in our leaders, is already inside of us, waiting to take seed and grow within our own beings.

In all this, there are three really big openings for our movement:

One, these leaders need to own the disruptive impacts of their actions and make public offerings of apology for perpetuating the hurt by not authentically claiming their humanity and proceeding to realign themselves with the movement’s best practices and principles.  Accepting and embracing our missteps, working through them both personally and in collective communication, is an essential part of acting as true agents of transformational change.

Two, as a collective, we cannot remain silent and collude. We must raise up our voices and say what must be said: “We witnessed and here is what happened.” As we do this, we create a large container for all of us to be more forthcoming and speak our truths. From this place, we can individually and collectively heal.

Three, it’s a needed right of passage to desire wanting to be the embodiment of something big like love. A lot of us struggle with this and often find ourselves knowing “the what” but not really knowing the how.

Here is my offering… “the what” and “the how”. “The what” is fearless radical love. “The how” of fearless radical love requires us to step towards and lean in. Way in. So much so that the very thought of something negative about the person who has wronged us feels like a dis-ease inside of our bodies. Keep stepping toward and leaning in until our compassion overrides our anger, hate, and our desire to distinguish ourselves from the other. This is oneness. When leaning in reveals to us our pain, the pain of the one who has wronged us and how these pains are our collective pain.

The antidote to otherness is oneness because we understand that changing ourselves is changing the world. Because we understand that what happens in some silo, in some part of our larger movement, deeply impacts all of us. If we are to embrace our own work and the vision and purpose that drive us individually, me must also embrace the complete sum of us including all that we are capable of as human beings.

Ultimately, transformational work is a path we must all journey on. If we are to transform society, we must transform ourselves first. These lessons are not meant to rationalize and okay the wrongs, or to spark fears of what this path will mean for us, and possibly scare us from being on our own transformational path, but rather to say we will make mistakes and that we can fearlessly claim them as a part of our transformational process to authentically be in our full humanity.

(Photo Credit: Zenquility)

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06 May 2014
Day 30 of #30DaysUP: wax on, wax off
Rusia
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for those who have kicked it with a sit every day from giddy up, this is day 30. so sweet.

how do you feel? what leadership superpowers surfaced for you? drop a comment + share with us how you did.

if you are still at it, that, too, is pretty awesome. keep going + get your 30 days in. I am with you + will continue my sits to keep this virtual sangha going.

if you have reached your 30 days, challenge number two is to join me + the others like you + continue your sit for another 30 days. let’s support those who are still going, sitting to reach 30 days of leadership excellence.

drop a comment + let us know how you are progressing.

getting my sit on…

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01 May 2014
mind the gap snapshot video
Rusia
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mind the gap snapshot video

You’ve been waiting for it… You’ve been aching for it… Your leadership has been thirsting for it… and now, yes NOW, it’s here in all its splendor and glory!

MIND THE GAP snapshot video is here to virtually teach you how to meditate, just in time for Universal Partnership’s #30DaysUP meditation challenge.

Geared for social change agents, this is Universal Partnership’s 2nd snapshot video. Narrated by angel Kyodo williams, mind your gap is a step-by-step how-to on meditation as a tool for developing leadership superpowers!

We want to know what you think. Tell us. Please leave a comment here and share the video… there is still time to spread the awesomeness and add to our growing community of superheroes!

Finally, I want to give  special, love-filled thank you to my mentor and homie, angel, Claudia Horwitz and to DayOne app for all the support it takes for this kind of dopeness to be brought to life.

Let’s get our sit on and mind the gap!

 

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01 May 2014
jadu mia: magic man
Rusia
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Yesterday marked the 35th death anniversary of the founding father of the Bangladeshi independence struggle, Mashiur Rahman “Jadu Miah”, my maternal grandfather.

The people are the source of all power.

Today, our movements understand & have experienced the kind of power ordinary citizens across the globe can wield- from electing officers to the highest positions of leadership & political power to passing policies & laws countered by big corporations. History, however, has sparse examples of men already holding political office who remain true to the very people whose faith & admiration elevated them to such positions. That was the heart of my grandfather & the man that the people of Bangladesh lovingly called, Jadu Miah or Magic Man.

At the face of public demands release of (Jadu Mia's release), the trial court in Nilphamari got suspended, Jadu Mia was brought back to Rajshahi Jail from Nilphamari overnight.

At the face of public demands release of (Jadu Mia’s release), the trial court in Nilphamari got suspended, Jadu Mia was brought back to Rajshahi Jail from Nilphamari overnight.

As a child, I vividly remember gazing with awe upon a series of pictures which began with my grandfather (Bhaiya Moni, as we called him) conversing with one man on the street. As I imagine the click of the camera continuing during this simple & common encounter, the pictures show more & more of our people gathering around Bhaiya Moni to listen to him speak. The last photo showing droves of people, spontaneously assembled to talk to the venerable Jadu Miah. Even now, so many years after laying eyes upon those pictures, I have a visceral reaction to the memory, in which the meaning of the kind of man Bhaiya Moni was, ignites chills throughout my body.

I dream of you, Bhaiya Moni. I’ve felt & experienced the impact of your love for our people & our country. I continue to see & be moved by your life’s work in all that my mother does & in the lives of my aunts & uncles. Even your grandchildren, we who were lucky to have you in our lives, though far too short & fleeting, and the children of your children who suffer the loss of never experiencing your love and kindness, we, too, embody the strength & courage we know to be the grounding force of your leadership.

There are many who continue your legacy & many more who share the stories of Jadu Mia. We will forever miss you, forever love you but more importantly, forever live your legacy in our hearts, minds & actions.

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21 Apr 2014
Day 15 of #30DaysUP: all is lost
Rusia
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we are officially on the other half of our 30-day challenge. fifteen days into cultivating our leadership superpowers. two weeks from changing ourselves + our world from, at minimum, 75 minutes of accumulated meditation. so simple, so incredible.

this is your work. this is the work of our virtual national sangha.

are you letting go of all that has held you back? are you letting go of your ego? doing so allows us to deepen our connections to ourselves + thereby allows you to be open to the vast connections available to you in each of your relationships + every single interaction you engage in. true beauty lies in our ability to show up, as we are, ready to be moved, ready to move others.

when all that contains us from reaching our vast potential is lost, we emerge transformed.

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19 Apr 2014
map of the human heart: #uwd style
Rusia
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We often talk about working towards a liberated society. That we are organizing for a just & equitable world. But when do we stop, join in community & collectivity define & envision what these phrases mean to us in the context of the work we do? When do we create a vision for what a liberated society looks & feels like? When do we take that vision & develop a concrete map of our work, to do our part of movement work to get to our vision of the world?

Saturday, April 19th 2014, thirteen United We Dream boardies threw down, got creative & innovative, & created a pictorial manifestation of their organizational commitment.

“We are a commitment to building a transformative, inclusive, immigrant youth-led organization for the sake of a liberated society”

Using Universal Partnership’s new tool to map out a developed vision, “Arc Of Change”, UWD boardies began by developing a somatic representation of a liberated society. The results were amazingly beautiful (see scrolling pictures above/below). And then this happened…

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“In our daily survival-mode lives, we can’t stop & think about what are the images of the kind of world we are fighting for? What does it look like & how do we get there? We have to dream our vision so we know what it looks like when we get there. We have to envision what a liberated society looks like so we know what we have to do to get there!”

It’s not just a roadmap to what UWD will do, in the context of their work & their slice of the broader movement… it’s the map of the human heart, the center of gravity for a liberated society. 

 

 

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18 Apr 2014
where in the world are you?
Rusia
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#30DaysUP is UP & running with 57 people across the country participating in our 30-Day meditation challenge. Surely, people are feeling & flexing their superpowers by now!

I want to ask each of you to take a quick moment to leave a comment on this post, indicating where you are in the world.

As you may know, #30DaysUP is a beta version for the kind of work we want to engage you & many more social change agents to continuously cultivate our individual & collective leadership. As such, we want to be able to tell the story of what we did here as the trailblazers.

Looking forward to hearing from you all here in the comments section & connecting with each of you, every day, on my zafu & zabuton!

Solidarity In Struggle
Rusia N. Mohiuddin
Principle, Universal Partnership (UP)

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08 Apr 2014
#30DaysUP tweets
Rusia
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06 Apr 2014
t-minus 1 day… are you ready for #30DaysUP?!
Rusia
0

are you ready to get your sit on? cultivate those leadership superpowers?

we are just one day away from #30DaysUP meditation challenge! with 55 folks across the country signed up to participate, we wanted to drop some quick info on the container we will create to keep us all on track, motivated and supported.

first things first… how do you meditate? by now you all should have taken 6 minutes to watch the “mind the gap” snapshot video to quickly learn the best & easiest way to build a new meditation practice.

mind the gap snapshot video

next, you should have received your free copy of the DayOne app, one of the many ways in which we will track & share our progress. if you haven’t, make sure you follow these quick & easy steps to grab your copy of the best journaling app out there. you do not need the app to participate in this challenge.

so are you ready to get started? make sure you pick a time to start your practice & stick to it!

  1. pick a time to meditate for at least 5 minutes (I will do my practice first thing in the morning) then PRACTICE!
  2. take a few breaths after your practice to settle into whatever you may be feeling. this is a great time to jot down some reflections into your practice journal. i do so in DayOne. you can also chose to write a reflection any time during the day. remember, this is YOUR practice & it should suit YOU!
  3. each day, use the hashtag #30DaysUP to share that you got your practice on! you can do this on facebook, twitter, the UP site (leave a comment in the top news story) or through the DayOne app. what you share & how you share it is completely up to you.
  4. lean on the support community & allow yourself to be inspired by the work you & the others are doing!
  5. and MOST IMPORTANT, if you take a bit of a stumble & miss a day… NO WORRIES… just pick your practice back up & start from day 1 of practice again! :) we will all have 60 days to do 30 consecutive days of practice. how awesome is that? all sorts, my friends, all sorts!

all right! if you got through this message, you should be all set to rock & roll! should you have any remaining questions/comments, reach out to @1worldup or the UNIVERSAL PARTNERSHIP PRACTICE GROUP.

HAPPY SITTING!
Rusia Mohiuddin
Principle, Universal Partnership (UP)
“at the heart of sustainable movements, must be the beat of sustainable people.”

 

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who we are

jadu_mia“My grandfather was the founding father of the Bangladeshi Independence struggle. He was an organizer & politician popularly known as ‘Jadu Mia’ (Magic Man). He would often tell his children,

‘The people are the source of all power!’

My mother raised her children with this as a foundation for understanding the world & what united peoples were capable of doing.”

The development of UP was a direct response to a call from Wanda Salaman, Executive Director of Mothers On the Move, & women of color leaders on the East & West coasts whose work is hampered by the economic, social & health disparities that plague the communities they serve & live in. Our work aims at untangling the internalized oppression, trauma & violence at the heart of this problem. We understand the importance of creating safe spaces & training that bridges healing & social justice in order to have well-grounded, effective leaders in the non-profit world.

rusia2Rusia N. Mohiuddin, based in New York, is a trainer, facilitator, & somatic coach who pioneered the integration of somatics into an organizing framework. Her current mission, through UP, has been developing a holistic model for social justice change work that places in its center the necessary transformation of social change agents. Rusia brings a unique style to creating pathways for individuals to bring their best selves forward when enacting social change in their organizations & communities.

Over the last 18 years, Rusia has primarily worked in non-profit, community-based organizations across the U.S. Her organizing career started with 8 years as a street-level community organizer, & grew to leading organizations, notably helping to establish Families United for Racial & Economic Equality & co-founding the national intermediary, Social Justice Leadership. Through this experience & her many years as a trainer, coach & consultant, Rusia brings a well-grounded expertise of basic to advanced organizing training as well as organizational & leadership development.

Rusia is also a proud nerd & is skilled in graphic design, photography, website development, video editing, & has worked with many organizations across the country as an IT specialist.


 

 

Dayanara Marte is a first generation Latina, Dominican Immigrant from Washington Heights, & mother of two dedicated to social justice & humanity. She is a Master of Public Health graduate of Columbia University with over 15 years’ experience working with womyn, girls & the LGBTQ community on reproductive health, mental health & violence prevention. She is nationally known for her work as a trauma prevention specialist, internalized oppression healer, & as a trainer & facilitator in emotional release; organizing healing circles of self-healing from the impact that oppression, trauma, violence & poverty has on the mind, body & spirit. As a certified addiction & recovery counselor, she holistically addresses addictions as the result of internalized oppression & as dis-ease that manifest in our bodies as a result of institutional racism, homophobia, xenophobia, classism, & sexism.

She recently founded In Bold Rebirth Consulting, providing personal & organizational health care for the mind, body & spirit. This work includes spiritual development & transformational leadership, executive coaching, identifying capacity building & systems management needs, creating accountability structures & systems, & specifying personal & organizational performance evaluation systems.

Dayanara has developed Conscious Accountability: a trauma informed resiliency model that supports young & adult womyn & the LGBTQ community on the front lines of their lives in creating healing spaces, self-care action plans & systems of personal accountability. Dayanara envisions a world where women young & elder powerfully exist in the face of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, incest, rape, relationship/partner abuse, & domestic violence within our homes, our organizations & within movements.  Dayanara has been working for 1 4 years in Mott Haven creating programs that reclaim the cultural/spiritual aspect of change to social justice movements towards the empowerment, healing & transformation of women of color.

In 2010, Dayanara became a citizen journalist for World Pulse, Voices of Our Future Correspondent & Global Connect: A Gender Justice writing project with Women E News & the Global Press Institute, founding the Behind the Movement Newsletter.

Learn more about In Bold Rebirth & Dayanara’s work.



some folks dropped us some love. check out the dopeness.

 


mission+vision

at the heart of sustainable movements, must be the heart of sustainable people

At the core of our work at Universal Partnership (UP) is the deep belief that at the heart of sustainable movements must be the beat of sustainable people. Our mission is to provide innovative self-healing tools, life & leadership skills to support movement workers in sustaining their humanity, & the humanity of the communities they serve, by organizing from a place of wholeness.

Our work uniquely introduces the practice of somatics into an agency’s organizational & organizing practices. Somatics is a sophisticated methodology combining the biological & social sciences to provide a framework for analysis & action. The term derives from the Greek word “soma”, which means the body in its living wholeness. The core ideology of somatics posits the undeniable interconnection & indispensable balance of mind, mood & body.

The use of somatics in organizing begins by examining unconscious practiced behaviors, established by our interactions with family, community, & society throughout our lives, that block us from taking empowered action both on our own behalf & on behalf of the communities we serve. It continues by establishing physical, emotional & mental practices that shake up & shed these binds.

Somatics allows us to see & adjust patterns that can directly inform our organizational & movement strategies. The structural impact on organizations that prioritize the full health & humanity of staff springs from a radically improved depth of trust & rapport among colleagues. Resulting is an expanded optimism in goal setting, heightened confidence driving individual & team performance, & high staff retention that allows sustainable leadership development within the agency.

The integration of somatics into a social justice organizing framework is also rooted in embracing the full humanity of our communities. It provides fresh tools for exploring in depth how & why individuals & collectives are primed to take some actions & unlikely to take others. By broadening analysis of our communities with a somatic lens, we become increasingly capable of moving our communities from a collective center, rather than relying primarily on identifying & rallying around time-limited self-interests.

Ultimately, we believe that changing 'you' is changing the world. By engaging in self-transformation towards embodied leadership, social change agents, organizations & communities can begin to align themselves, their beliefs & actions with their vision for the world.

united we dream
united we dream
UP

united we dream


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ypp leadership development
ypp leadership development
retreat
ypp leadership development



oppression in the soma
oppression in the soma
#OIS

oppression in the soma


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#OIS'14 @ garrison institute. many thanks to Ian Dudley of POV Productions for shoot + documenting this breakthrough event.
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practicing justice
practicing justice
retreat

practicing justice


  • practicing justice
  • practicing justice

In November 2013 we held a by-invitation contemplative retreat for activists entitled “Practicing Justice: Transformation for Social Change” curated by Zen teacher Rev. angel Kyodo williams and co-facilitated by Claudia Horwitz and Rusia Mohiuddin    



what we do

We believe that each organization & individuals are unique & therefore require customized support designed specifically for them. UP specializes in creating innovative development & plans suited for the individual organizations & communities.

We don’t follow a cookie-cutter philosophy to consulting. that’s why all our tools are vetted through numerous iterations.

But we take it yet another step…

Every time we do a gig, we learn, right along side our clients. We learn how our tools impact those we serve, how folks orient to our styles & methodologies, and then we make adjustments. This means that every time we do our work, every single time, we bring our internal lessons forward to serve individuals & organizations moving forward.


services



UP | comrades

  • Rusia N. Mohiuddin

    Rusia N. Mohiuddin

    Principle
    Rusia leads all the services + focus areas offered through UP. Her special UP+love is about customizing every training, project, + everything in between, to each + every client.

  • Sethu Nair

    Sethu Nair

    Retreat Coordinator
    Sethu is a synergist who combines her experiences in relationship building + conflict resolution in her work as Communications Strategist + Mediator. Sethu works on #OIS.

  • angel Kyodo williams

    angel Kyodo williams

    Ally + OIS Facilitator
    angel is a leading voice for Transformative Social Change, + coined the name for the field. angel is the co-lead for the Oppression In Soma retreats + UP works with angel + cxc on NY-based 3|One + Practicing Justice.

  • Ian A. Dudley

    Ian A. Dudley

    Videographer+Photographer
    Ian is an experienced, award winning cinematographer. With 18+ years of experience, Ian approaches each project with a unique creative perspective that bridges the technical with the aesthetic.


focus areas

folks are talking about us
  • "I decided to participate in 3|One because I needed to re-center my life. A whirlwind of personal & professional change had knocked me off balance & left me disconnected from my sense of personal power. Through the series of 3|One trainings, I became aware of the real connection between mind & body & how my lived experience literally shows up in my body. I also learned how practices (like centering, somatics & jo-kata) can help to create new experiences & new shapes. thanks to 3|One, i am ready to face the world in my full power - grounded with integrity & extended with dignity."
    - Shaun Lin, Civil Rights Organizer Picture the Homeless -
  • "You are a blessing in my life. I am so grateful that your wisdom came across my pathway. Thanks for this + all the wisdom-sharing you have invested is us, me."
    - Carlos Amador, Board Member United We Dream -
  • "I'm sure you will all agree that the challenges ahead of us now seem less daunting since we have a better understanding of who we are as organizers, point staff, + individuals."
    - Danny Peralta, Director of Arts & Education @ the Point -
  • "Thanks for making this happen. It was a game changing workshop."
    - Earl Skinner, Youth Programs Coordinator @ the Point -
  • "You guys created a welcoming space.. as soon as I walked through the door, I felt welcomed and eager to share. I wanted to learn from the other participants and get to know new faces. the retreat was everything I expected and more... your tentativeness and dedication to us to liberate ourselves shine throughout our time together."
    - Nova Stratchan, Housing Organizer @ MOM -
  • " Oppession in the Soma gave us permission to be human too and challenged us to trancend our own coping mechanisms with intention for long term sustainability."
    - Taleigh Smith, Climate Change Director @ NWBCCC -
  • "Accommodated different types of learners through different activities, created a warm and welcoming environment with a feeling of safety, used accessible and relatable language."
    - Meredith Gray, Restorative Justice Program Assistant at New York Peace Institute -
  • "Signing up for this training itself is an act of self-love. No matter where you are in your personal transformation, healing and commitment to social justice - the 'Oppression in the Soma' training is essential to getting started and continuing."
    - Sethu Nair, Consultant -
  • "Attending the Oppression in the Soma retreat with Rusia Mohiuddin and Angel Kyodo Williams was a truly life changing experience for me."
    - Kat Young-Stevens, Founder & Content Curator at Groundwork for Praxis -

some of our clients




our approach tools

Self-Neglect as Service
The work imperative within social justice organizations – taking action (working) as much as possible – ironically & tragically ends up sabotaging an organization’s capacity for effective action. We push ourselves, our work, & those around us, becoming increasingly ineffectual because we have not stopped to replenish our physical, emotional & mental health. This deterioration promotes cynicism, strains temperance & trust within relationships, & thus diminishes both our desire & our ability for collective vision & action.

This same cycle of self-neglecting service is also pervasive within oppressed communities, as citizens take on the burdens of economic & social disparity.  Many of us come to this work because we, or the people we love, have experienced deep injustice. These experiences shape a negative understanding of our self-worth & potential for empowered action. When instinctual mistrust of ourselves & others goes unchallenged, we end up taking actions that reinforce/recycle the wounds of oppression within ourselves & within our relationships.

At the heart of this dynamic is the thinking that self-care is an indulgence. In the social justice work ethic, it is a waste of otherwise productive time.  At the “macho” end of this thinking, self-care can even be seen as harmful; making us less effective by “softening” the rigidity of our focus & resolve. Most importantly, behind these canards lies an oppressed worldview – internalized from our own experiences and/or from the communities we serve – that convinces us we do not deserve it.

Our self- & community-narratives are a psychological state, but also significantly shape our emotional state, or mood. Finally, both of these shape our very bodies, as pessimistic thoughts & emotions bend our postures & lower our heads. Going the opposite direction, the stresses we put on our bodies produce moods that sour our opinion of ourselves, relationships, organizations & communities.

It is hard to imagine that liberated individuals, communities, societies or worlds can emerge from these broken fragments that make up the individual & collective bodies driving the work today.

Shifting the Paradigm
audre_lordeIn the venerable words of Audre Lorde’s radical self-love, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation & that is an act of political warfare.”

UP’s approach to social change, ignited & sustained by social change agents, seeks to push this ethos to the outer most edge. We want to challenge movements & change makers to claim our individual & collective beings as shaped by the very systems of oppression & injustice that we fight against. Without self-reflection & understanding that we, too, are a product of these insidious cultures & systems as are the materials conditions that our communities & the communities we fight for are living in, we cannot begin to imagine & change our society & world to be more just & equitable. At least not in a long lasting, sustainable way. We believe that each of us needs self-care, healing, & transformation to become the embodied leaders our visions require us to be.

No longer can we drive ourselves, beyond our capacity, & expect that our own trauma, our own shaping, will not rise to the surface & overshadow our good work & principles. We must understand our individual, organizational & community’s historical shaping as the basis of reinventing our selves & our leadership as the methodology towards deep societal change.

Our approach, in this respect, is simple- we believe changing you is changing the world. That self-reflection, -work & -transformation are the most radical change any one individual can commit. Our work deeply integrates this approach on every level & kind of training & development we do.



UP|orgs

Universal Partnership is a national consulting practice. We have worked with numerous organizations, big and small, across the county. Here is a list of organizations we have and continue to do significant work with.

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fierce!
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FIERCE is a membership-based organization building the leadership and power of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth of color in New York City.  We develop politically conscious leaders who are invested in improving ourselves and our communities through youth-led campaigns, leadership development programs, and cultural expression through arts and media. FIERCE is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of social justice movement leaders who are dedicated to ending all forms of oppression.

Design & Train on Webinars (2012)

Organizational Development (2012+2013)

Planning & Implementing Culture Change (2013)

Effective Individual & Organizational Communication (2013)

Executive Coaching (2013)

Staff Coaching (2013)

Wellness Retreat (2012)

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roadmap
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At RoadMap, we believe that social justice organizations are critical to creating transformational change in our society. We also believe that in order to achieve this transformational change, organizations need support to adapt to new challenges and changing conditions.

Download RoadMap's Brochure

United Workers Congress (Coaching & Organizational Development)

UNITY /IAD (Executive Coaching, Retreat Dev & Facilitation & Organizational Development)

La Fuente (Executive Coaching, Staff & Organizational Development)

ROC United & ROC NY (Organization Development & Conflict Resolution)

Philadelphia Student Union (Executive Coaching, Organizational Assessment, Landscape Analysis & Planning)

United We Dream (Strategic Planning)


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California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) is  a statewide organization committed to honoring the experiences of Latinas to uphold our dignity, our bodies, sexuality, and families.  We build Latinas’ power and cultivate leadership through community education, policy advocacy, and community-informed research to achieve reproductive justice.

Leadership Retreat (2015)

Strategic Planning Mid-Evaluation (2015)

Executive Coaching (2013-4)

Senior Staff Coaching (2012-4)

IT Consultant (2014)

5-year Strategic Planning (2012-13)

Board Development Retreat (2013)

Staff Development Retreat (2013)

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NYCLC
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The New York City Labor Collaborative was an ad hoc grouping of organizations across the city looking to strategically coordinate internal and external impact of their organizations. The NYCLC was made up of Mothers On the Move, La Fuente, El Centro, Taxi Workers Alliance, and Domestic Workers United.

Organizational Development & Annual Planning 3-Day Retreat (2013)


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La Fuente empowers immigrants, workers, and their communities to action through civic participation, grassroots organizing, and leadership development. We work in collaboration with labor unions, faith institutions, and community organizations to build a movement of a just society.

Staff Development Training Series (2013)

Executive Coaching (2013)


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KBCC
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Bluegrass Community and Technical College, located in Lexington, KY, is one of sixteen two-year, open-admissions colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

Executive Coaching with Director

In partnership with Casa de Cultura Hispana de Lexington & the Kentucky Dream Coalition Organizational Development (2014)

Organizing Training Webinar Series (2014)


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The Center for Popular Democracy works to create equity, opportunity and a dynamic democracy in partnership with high-impact base-building organizations, organizing alliances, and progressive unions. CPD strengthens our collective capacity to envision and win an innovative pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda.

Design & Facilitate 2 training tracks for SEIRN Annual Conference

Design & Facilitate Staff Development Retreat for AIR


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mekong
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Mekong aims to improve the quality of life of the Southeast Asian community in the Bronx and throughout New York City by achieving equity through community organizing and healing, promoting arts, culture, and language, and creating a safety net by improving access to essential social services. The Southeast Asian community in the Bronx primarily consists of Cambodian Americans and Vietnamese Americans.

Annual Organizational Planning Retreat (2012+2013)

Executive Coaching (2013)


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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

2013-4 Social Justice Conference: Movement Lawyering In the 21st Century

2013-4 Ella Baker Summer Internship Opening & Closing Retreats

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Mothers on the Move / Madres en Movimiento (MOM) is a member-led community organization which was founded in 1992 as a vehicle for low-income people of color to take strategic leadership in campaigns to transform ourselves and our communities. MOM envisions a society where resources and benefits are equally shared, and where people play a role in community decision-making in proportion to the degree they are affected. We are fighting for a South Bronx where future generations have clean air, well-resourced & community-controlled schools, safe streets, green space, good jobs and more control over the wealth that their labor creates.

Staff Development

Leadership Coaching

Executive Coaching

Database Design & Development

Website Development

Intranet Setup


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furee
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Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) is a Brooklyn-based multi-racial organization made up almost exclusively of women of color. We organize low-income families to build power to change the system so that all people's work is valued and all of us have the right and economic means to decide and live out our own destinies. We use direct action, leadership development, community organizing, civic engagement and political education to win the changes our members seek. Our guiding principle is that those directly affected by the policies we are seeking to change should lead the organization.

Executive Coaching (2013-4)

5-year Strategic Plan (2013)

Annual Organizational Development Retreat (2012+2013)

Organizational Work Planning Training

Leadership Coaching

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The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm.  Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, who subsequently became the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, LDF was launched at a time when the nation’s aspirations for equality and due process of law were stifled by widespread state-sponsored racial inequality.  From that era to the present, LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society.

Intro to Embodied Organizing (@PSC)


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Jahajee Sisters is a movement-building organization, led by Indo-Caribbean women, committed to creating a safe and equitable society. We foster solidarity and empowerment through dialogue, arts, leadership development and grassroots organizing.

Organizing 101 Training

Somatic Campaign Development


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casa
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Casa Atabex-Ache is a grassroots non-profit organization designed to tap into the innate power of healing, transformation, and action that often lies dormant in womyn and girls of color, so that we may strengthen and improve our lives, families and communities. Since, 1994, Casa has met the needs of womyn and girls in inner-city communities through education, counseling, holistic therapy, referrals and community.

Executive Coaching

Staff Coaching

IT Consultant

Intranet Setup

Website Design & Development


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For 35 years, North Star Fund has helped make democracy happen in New York City—we've built a diverse network of donor activists to support the grassroots leaders that move New York forward.

We help activists on the ground organize, gain visibility and influence, and pursue solutions to the greatest problems facing our city.

Coach in the Movement Leadership Program (2012-14 )


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PE
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The mission of Project Enterprise is to support and develop entrepreneurs and small businesses in under-resourced communities in New York City. By providing micro-loans, business development services and networking opportunities, Project Enterprise helps entrepreneurs increase their standard of living, create jobs for their communities, and build financial assets.

Staff Development & Planning Retreat


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PSC
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Philander Smith College is a small, privately supported, historically Black, four-year liberal arts institution related to the Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. The college offers four degrees: the bachelor of arts, the bachelor of science, the bachelor of business administration, and the bachelor of social work.

The college's mission is to graduate academically accomplished students, grounded as advocates for social justice, determined to change the world for the better.

Organizing 101 Training


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CUNY
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United Leaders of CUNY (ULC) is a student based organization specifically led and run by students of the Percy Ellis Sutton Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) and College Discovery (CD) programs. Our purpose is to encourage the pursuit for knowledge and action towards raising awareness of the opportunities and support available to students as we aim to increase career and personal development of our members. To this end, ULC represents and advocates for students’ rights and believes that together we can overcome the adversities that may come our way.

Student Leadership Development

Organizing 101 Training

Development of Student Organization (United Leaders of CUNY)


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THE POINT Community Development Corporation is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) dedicated to youth development and the cultural and economic revitalization of the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx. We work with our neighbors to celebrate the life and art of our community, an area traditionally defined solely in terms of its poverty, crime rate, poor schools and substandard housing. We believe the area’s residents, their talents and aspirations, are THE POINT’s greatest assets.

Organizing 101 Training

Somatic Campaign Development

Introduction to Embodied Organizing


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Resource Generation organizes a multi-racial constituency of young people with inherited, earned, or future wealth who are committed to working for a just world. The broader Resource Generation community includes people of all ages and class backgrounds who support the role that young people with wealth play in social change. Our cross-class allies participate as board members, trainers, and organizational partners.

2014 Multi-day Staff Retreat

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Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) works to address economic and environmental issues in the South Bronx – and throughout New York City – through a combination of green job training, community greening programs, and social enterprise.

Staff Development Retreat (2012)


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Make the Road New York (MRNY) builds the power of Latino and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services.

Embodied Organizing Intensive for Organizers (2015)

Embodied Organizing Intensive for Supervisors (2015)

Youth Power Project Development (2014+2015)

Youth Power Project Staff Coaching

Senior Staff Coaching (2014)

Long Island Staff Development Retreat (2014)

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United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation. Our powerful nonpartisan network is made up of over 100,000 immigrant youth and allies and 55 affiliate organizations in 26 states. We organize and advocate for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status.

Executive Board Committee Coaching (2013)

Executive Coaching (2013+2014)

Board Development Training Series (2013)

Senior Staff Planning Retreat

Annual Staff Development & Planning Retreat (2012+2013)

Annual Board Development (2012+2013)

Quarterly Board Retreats (2012-4)

Conflict Resolution

Annual Leadership Development Retreat (2013+2014+2015)

Leadership Coaching


video testimonials from some of our favorite leaders.


  • "I decided to participate in 3|One because I needed to re-center my life. A whirlwind of personal & professional change had knocked me off balance & left me disconnected from my sense of personal power. Through the series of 3|One trainings, I became aware of the real connection between mind & body & how my lived experience literally shows up in my body. I also learned how practices (like centering, somatics & jo-kata) can help to create new experiences & new shapes. thanks to 3|One, i am ready to face the world in my full power - grounded with integrity & extended with dignity."
    - Shaun Lin, Civil Rights Organizer Picture the Homeless -
  • You are a blessing in my life. I am so grateful that your wisdom came across my pathway. Thanks for this + all the wisdom-sharing you have invested is us, me.
    - Carlos Amador, Board Member United We Dream -
  • I'm sure you will all agree that the challenges ahead of us now seem less daunting since we have a better understanding of who we are as organizers, point staff, + individuals.
    - Danny Peralta, Director of Arts & Education @ the Point -
  • Thanks for making this happen. It was a game changing workshop.
    - Earl Skinner, Youth Programs Coordinator @ the Point -
  • "You guys created a welcoming space.. as soon as I walked through the door, I felt welcomed and eager to share. I wanted to learn from the other participants and get to know new faces. the retreat was everything I expected and more... your tentativeness and dedication to us to liberate ourselves shine throughout our time together."
    - Nova Stratchan, Housing Organizer @ MOM -
  • " Oppession in the Soma gave us permission to be human too and challenged us to trancend our own coping mechanisms with intention for long term sustainability."
    - Taleigh Smith, Climate Change Director @ NWBCCC -
  • "Accommodated different types of learners through different activities, created a warm and welcoming environment with a feeling of safety, used accessible and relatable language."
    - Meredith Gray, Restorative Justice Program Assistant at New York Peace Institute -
  • "Signing up for this training itself is an act of self-love. No matter where you are in your personal transformation, healing and commitment to social justice - the 'Oppression in the Soma' training is essential to getting started and continuing."
    - Sethu Nair, Consultant -
  • "Attending the Oppression in the Soma retreat with Rusia Mohiuddin and Angel Kyodo Williams was a truly life changing experience for me."
    - Kat Young-Stevens, Founder & Content Curator at Groundwork for Praxis -



UP’s portfolio: a place to learn + check out our publications

we understand that there are many ways in which we can learn + we want to use all of them to share the stories of the many people who have made our work what it is today.

every voice has a story + we want you to hear them all.

make your choice below + find a medium to hear stories that bring the experience of our work to life.

 








snapshot videos: innovation geared to transform

Our Principle at Universal Partnership, Rusia N. Mohiuddin, has worked across the country developing the organizing capacity of a variety of organizations; with an implicit concentration on leadership development at an individual level, organization level & community-wide level.

Rusia has innovated a methodology for embodied leadership that invites participants to explore what values & principles are in their individual, organizational & community’s “core”. This understanding can lead the way to cultivating the kind of leadership necessary for their social change work to succeed.

Watch UP’s video on “Building the Core” to get a snapshot of one of our key grounding methodologies.

Geared for social change agents, UP’s 2nd snapshot video is on meditation. Narrated by angel Kyodo williams, mind your gap is a step-by-step how-to on meditation as a tool for developing leadership superpowers!


  • "I decided to participate in 3|One because I needed to re-center my life. A whirlwind of personal & professional change had knocked me off balance & left me disconnected from my sense of personal power. Through the series of 3|One trainings, I became aware of the real connection between mind & body & how my lived experience literally shows up in my body. I also learned how practices (like centering, somatics & jo-kata) can help to create new experiences & new shapes. thanks to 3|One, i am ready to face the world in my full power - grounded with integrity & extended with dignity."
    - Shaun Lin, Civil Rights Organizer Picture the Homeless -
  • You are a blessing in my life. I am so grateful that your wisdom came across my pathway. Thanks for this + all the wisdom-sharing you have invested is us, me.
    - Carlos Amador, Board Member United We Dream -
  • I'm sure you will all agree that the challenges ahead of us now seem less daunting since we have a better understanding of who we are as organizers, point staff, + individuals.
    - Danny Peralta, Director of Arts & Education @ the Point -
  • Thanks for making this happen. It was a game changing workshop.
    - Earl Skinner, Youth Programs Coordinator @ the Point -
  • "You guys created a welcoming space.. as soon as I walked through the door, I felt welcomed and eager to share. I wanted to learn from the other participants and get to know new faces. the retreat was everything I expected and more... your tentativeness and dedication to us to liberate ourselves shine throughout our time together."
    - Nova Stratchan, Housing Organizer @ MOM -
  • " Oppession in the Soma gave us permission to be human too and challenged us to trancend our own coping mechanisms with intention for long term sustainability."
    - Taleigh Smith, Climate Change Director @ NWBCCC -
  • "Accommodated different types of learners through different activities, created a warm and welcoming environment with a feeling of safety, used accessible and relatable language."
    - Meredith Gray, Restorative Justice Program Assistant at New York Peace Institute -
  • "Signing up for this training itself is an act of self-love. No matter where you are in your personal transformation, healing and commitment to social justice - the 'Oppression in the Soma' training is essential to getting started and continuing."
    - Sethu Nair, Consultant -
  • "Attending the Oppression in the Soma retreat with Rusia Mohiuddin and Angel Kyodo Williams was a truly life changing experience for me."
    - Kat Young-Stevens, Founder & Content Curator at Groundwork for Praxis -



writings


22 May 2014
regarding oneness
Rusia
0

For over a decade, the use of the word transformation has become more and more prevalent in our movements’ work. Whatever the varying definitions of what transformation means, essentially we use it as an indicator for our desire to bring the present toward something more just and equitable… permanently. The institutionalization of the terms “transformation” and “transformative” brought with it the emergence of those who identified themselves as transformational leaders – those who we identified as transformational leaders, and to whom we attribute specific innovation and substantial work bringing transformative practices to the rest of us.

And then, it seems, just like that, some of this work imploded.

In the Fall of 2013, news of inappropriate behavior within one of the more prominent intermediaries in the U.S. sparked controversy that soon ballooned to involve many individuals, as we heard more and more about movement leaders and transformational trainers having unethical sexual relationships. The fallout is huge, yet largely unknown, and continues to affect countless relationships and individuals across and beyond the transformational movement arena.

Over these last 9 months, folks across the country have been grappling with what actually happened, and like any other time something big goes really wrong, folks look to locate the root cause, the exact who and exactly what, of the matter. Typically, when there are gaps in our knowledge of what has happened, we create a sense of safety by making things up to fill the space. And since the main characters have yet to publicly share their own experiences, we’ve developed our own narratives about what happened that, having arisen from our anger and sense of betrayal, serves to only deepen those feelings.

The essence of the situation is this: a handful of people that our movements have admired, to whom we’ve exposed our vulnerabilities, betrayed our trust. That hurts. And that makes us want to turn away and run from anything they’re associated with. And so, folks ran. In fact, folks outright abandoned these leaders, and some shunned the work and concepts they represent. Let’s face it. It is downright scandalous. None of this has felt right to anyone involved. None of this has been right for our movements and we need to do something to change this.

I have been engaged in transformational work for almost nine years; both in my own life as well as an integral part of the work I do in service of our collective movement. I have a personal stake in how these events are interpreted and how we move out of this place of distrust and hurt. I feel a sense of responsibility to give voice to what I have witnessed and to offer a perspective of what happened in the hopes that we can move towards greater understanding and healing.

Otherness. Otherness is what really happened.

Otherness on the leader level: we are not immune to the trappings of power and being seen as other than everyone else. It is easy to create an ever-widening imbalance in our relationships that propels our individual identity, our needs, and feelings above those who we are charged and trusted to serve. This happens when what we desire, on behalf of others, is overcome by our desire to be seen. And then it’s just our egos with little to no room in between. Tragically, the first thing to go here is the discipline of being the change we seek to manifest in the world.

The lowest bar for a transformational trainer is to be authentic by practicing what we preach. A high bar is to engage in guided transformational personal practice. Without either of these, there is otherness. Practice for the sake of practice serves the ego and rarely anything else. Stand-alone practice, without purpose and guidance does not achieve transformation, regardless of the time and effort put into it. It is true that 3000 repetitions may indeed achieve physical mastery but all this means is that the repetition will be in our bodies. That is it. It does not mean that the kind of embodiment occurs in which we transform our emotional or spiritual bodies. This is one way practice in service of ego happens.

When we serve our egos, we create otherness to distinguish ourselves. To elevate our egos, and make true our false narratives that we are better and more evolved, allows us to use others, whose service we are truly charged with, turn it on its head, to further serve our egos. Teaching practice in absence of our own intentional practice is the failed attempt to deeply understand that which is beyond our own experience. This is not transformational. Not even close.

Our work is truly righteous and thus has inherent opportunities for bigger ethical trappings. We wear the armor of the high moral ground that fighting for a just society affords us. When that armor is affixed with badges of freedom-fighting slogans, they become mere rhetoric because we use that as our grounding instead of continued, cultivated inner strength and knowing.

And, no individual does this on their own. We help by unwittingly servicing otherness.

Otherness on the witness level: Our complicity in creating and sustaining otherness is multifold. Psychologically, we do so by drawing distinct lines between ourselves and those we look up to as leaders. We create hierarchies that falsely place our leaders above us, rather than as an extension of ourselves, which adheres to a narrative of personal inadequacy while also attaching a superior status to these leaders that can deprive them of their humanity.

Like the masks we can wear to hide ourselves from the world around us, we similarly throw masks on leaders to hide big and small flaws alike. This, too, is complicity and perpetuation. We compromise our own principles to maintain loyalty, as if they are competing factors when they are, in fact, one and the same. Our principles largely hinge on being loyal to ourselves and each of us to everyone, regardless of anyone’s particular role. Exercising that loyalty means calling upon each other to authentically claim our humanity, including missteps in our own actions. We further exercise that loyalty by lovingly and openly holding each other to account, and testifying to disruptive and hurtful impacts when they occur.

Like all magical illusions, eventually, there is a big reveal. The moment, in which we can no longer hold up the masks and our own blinders, where “what really is” lies before us as surely as the sun shines. And we are shocked to our cores. We are consumed with disbelief, anger and betrayal. We don’t stay in relationship. Of course, we don’t. We run. We run and that creates yet another layer of otherness.

I believe it’s normal to run because we need to take care of ourselves and make sense of the disrupted things around us. Fine. Run. It can be healthy. But when we run and stay running, are we really creating a world that is just? That is fueled by and centered on love? It is these very moments, where we chose to create great distance, when what we truly believe becomes distorted. Here we fail to see that the things we aspire to be, that is emulated in our leaders, is already inside of us, waiting to take seed and grow within our own beings.

In all this, there are three really big openings for our movement:

One, these leaders need to own the disruptive impacts of their actions and make public offerings of apology for perpetuating the hurt by not authentically claiming their humanity and proceeding to realign themselves with the movement’s best practices and principles.  Accepting and embracing our missteps, working through them both personally and in collective communication, is an essential part of acting as true agents of transformational change.

Two, as a collective, we cannot remain silent and collude. We must raise up our voices and say what must be said: “We witnessed and here is what happened.” As we do this, we create a large container for all of us to be more forthcoming and speak our truths. From this place, we can individually and collectively heal.

Three, it’s a needed right of passage to desire wanting to be the embodiment of something big like love. A lot of us struggle with this and often find ourselves knowing “the what” but not really knowing the how.

Here is my offering… “the what” and “the how”. “The what” is fearless radical love. “The how” of fearless radical love requires us to step towards and lean in. Way in. So much so that the very thought of something negative about the person who has wronged us feels like a dis-ease inside of our bodies. Keep stepping toward and leaning in until our compassion overrides our anger, hate, and our desire to distinguish ourselves from the other. This is oneness. When leaning in reveals to us our pain, the pain of the one who has wronged us and how these pains are our collective pain.

The antidote to otherness is oneness because we understand that changing ourselves is changing the world. Because we understand that what happens in some silo, in some part of our larger movement, deeply impacts all of us. If we are to embrace our own work and the vision and purpose that drive us individually, me must also embrace the complete sum of us including all that we are capable of as human beings.

Ultimately, transformational work is a path we must all journey on. If we are to transform society, we must transform ourselves first. These lessons are not meant to rationalize and okay the wrongs, or to spark fears of what this path will mean for us, and possibly scare us from being on our own transformational path, but rather to say we will make mistakes and that we can fearlessly claim them as a part of our transformational process to authentically be in our full humanity.

(Photo Credit: Zenquility)

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01 May 2014
mind the gap snapshot video
Rusia
0

mind the gap snapshot video

You’ve been waiting for it… You’ve been aching for it… Your leadership has been thirsting for it… and now, yes NOW, it’s here in all its splendor and glory!

MIND THE GAP snapshot video is here to virtually teach you how to meditate, just in time for Universal Partnership’s #30DaysUP meditation challenge.

Geared for social change agents, this is Universal Partnership’s 2nd snapshot video. Narrated by angel Kyodo williams, mind your gap is a step-by-step how-to on meditation as a tool for developing leadership superpowers!

We want to know what you think. Tell us. Please leave a comment here and share the video… there is still time to spread the awesomeness and add to our growing community of superheroes!

Finally, I want to give  special, love-filled thank you to my mentor and homie, angel, Claudia Horwitz and to DayOne app for all the support it takes for this kind of dopeness to be brought to life.

Let’s get our sit on and mind the gap!

 

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01 May 2014
jadu mia: magic man
Rusia
0

Yesterday marked the 35th death anniversary of the founding father of the Bangladeshi independence struggle, Mashiur Rahman “Jadu Miah”, my maternal grandfather.

The people are the source of all power.

Today, our movements understand & have experienced the kind of power ordinary citizens across the globe can wield- from electing officers to the highest positions of leadership & political power to passing policies & laws countered by big corporations. History, however, has sparse examples of men already holding political office who remain true to the very people whose faith & admiration elevated them to such positions. That was the heart of my grandfather & the man that the people of Bangladesh lovingly called, Jadu Miah or Magic Man.

At the face of public demands release of (Jadu Mia's release), the trial court in Nilphamari got suspended, Jadu Mia was brought back to Rajshahi Jail from Nilphamari overnight.

At the face of public demands release of (Jadu Mia’s release), the trial court in Nilphamari got suspended, Jadu Mia was brought back to Rajshahi Jail from Nilphamari overnight.

As a child, I vividly remember gazing with awe upon a series of pictures which began with my grandfather (Bhaiya Moni, as we called him) conversing with one man on the street. As I imagine the click of the camera continuing during this simple & common encounter, the pictures show more & more of our people gathering around Bhaiya Moni to listen to him speak. The last photo showing droves of people, spontaneously assembled to talk to the venerable Jadu Miah. Even now, so many years after laying eyes upon those pictures, I have a visceral reaction to the memory, in which the meaning of the kind of man Bhaiya Moni was, ignites chills throughout my body.

I dream of you, Bhaiya Moni. I’ve felt & experienced the impact of your love for our people & our country. I continue to see & be moved by your life’s work in all that my mother does & in the lives of my aunts & uncles. Even your grandchildren, we who were lucky to have you in our lives, though far too short & fleeting, and the children of your children who suffer the loss of never experiencing your love and kindness, we, too, embody the strength & courage we know to be the grounding force of your leadership.

There are many who continue your legacy & many more who share the stories of Jadu Mia. We will forever miss you, forever love you but more importantly, forever live your legacy in our hearts, minds & actions.

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11 Sep 2013
UP’s Building the Core
Rusia
0

Rusia Mohiuddin, Principle at Universal Partnership,  has innovated a methodology for embodied leadership that invites participants to explore what values & principles are in their individual, organizational & community’s “core”. This understanding can lead the way to cultivating the kind of leadership necessary for their social change work to succeed.

Watch UP’s video on “Building the Core” to get a snapshot of one of our key grounding methodologies.

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media

By Dayanara Marte
Global Connect! Blogger

20140421-185658.jpg"Rusia Naureen Mohiuddin was born in Bangladesh in 1973, the year that two important cases dominated the United States news: Roe vs. Wade and the start of the Watergate hearings. She was born an identical twin, the pair born in the middle of four siblings. She says her journey towards social justice causes came before she was 13 years old.

Mohiuddin studied and graduated in New York, and after a nine month visit to Bangladesh, returned to the city to launch herself as the lead organizer for the Moshulu Woodlawn South Community Coalition.

Without any formal training, Mohiuddin successfully organized the first bilingual Bengali program in New York City at Public School 20 in the North West Bronx, a community with a high concentration of Bangladeshi families. There she organized more than 100 community members to start tenant associations and run four social justice campaigns in their neighborhoods.

Five and a half years ago Mohiuddin co-founded Social Justice Leadership, an organization based in New York City supporting leaders, organizers and supervisors to create authentic open relationships with those they work with.

Having worked in the five boroughs of New York City, Florida and California with youth, women and people of color, Mohiuddin started seeing patterns in people's experiences.

People felt stuck in old habits that no longer served a purpose in their lives and didn't know how to change. Staff in community organizing were underpaid and overworked with no real structure in place to appreciate or value the work they do. And, the needs of communities were so vast and global that the day-to-day work barely put a dent in the situations faced. Staff quickly became overworked, burned out and left.

In late 2004, Mohiuddin crafted a five-year vision for the work she felt she must do to infuse highly skilled, balanced and sustainable organizers into the social justice movement. Already in development, Mohiuddin, as the chief architect of ACTIVATE! The Community Fellowship Program, launched an intensive three-month program for intermediate, entry level folks and whole organizations to train together and develop skills sets that take care of their human and organizing needs.

"Some people want change that is tangible, that you can feel, but the most stark changes are small and have huge impact but we are only able to see them if we are engaged in day-to-day relationships with people," says Mohiuddin.

ACTIVATE! has not only become the staple of how Social Justice Leadership does their organizing work today, but has also revolutionized the way that organizers think about themselves within the movement. It was through ACTIVATE! that Mohiuddin solidified integrating the self into community organizing work, changing the way organizing is done while having a transformative impact in the lives of the people who attend the training.

Ultimately, this innovative integration became the basis for what will be the social justice leadership model of transformative organizing. This model, says Mohiuddin, "forces people to see their own humanity and the humanity of others in the pursuit of justice."

Today, Mohiuddin is taking what she has learned into the universe, reaching as many people as she can. "I want to be a part of something that has personhood at the center. I want to work for an organization not looking to be bigger than itself, where the expansion becomes more important than the work it is doing," said Mohiuddin.

The only way to secure that she will find this place is by creating it herself. This winter, Mohiuddin will be launching Universal Partnership, a consulting and training institute that believes that the heart of a sustainable movement moves to the beat of sustainable people.

As a woman of color in various leadership positions, Mohiuddin always had the opportunity to connect with the staff of where she worked but found it hard to be taken seriously by her male peers in leadership, no matter their race. She sees the many displaced and disempowering positions she has found herself in as a direct result of her being a women. No matter the injustice or oppression she faced, Mohiuddin made the struggle for gender equality secondary for the sake of maintaining relationships and getting her work done.

For those on the front lines, Mohiuddin says, "It's important to believe in yourself even when everyone tells you not to, surround yourself with people who care about you and allow yourself to be impacted by the work that you are doing. It is not about changing the world, it's allowing the work to shape you and who you need to be."

Of course this is easier said than done so look forward to Universal Partnership to support you on your journey of finding your humanity and dignity if you have lost it along the way.

In November 2013 we held a by-invitation contemplative retreat for activists entitled“Practicing Justice: Transformation for Social Change” curated by Zen teacher Rev. angel Kyodo williams and co-facilitated by Claudia Horwitz and Rusia Mohiuddin. Made possible by a grant from the Kalliopeia Foundation, it was one of a series of retreats which, starting in 2002, periodically convene activists to explore the intersection of contemplative/spiritual/transformational practice and social justice.

Participants told their stories, strengthened ties, renewed friendships and explored commonalities and differences, but the retreat was not a typical professional networking gathering. It was conducted on a deeply personal level, with a very spacious agenda allowing plenty of time for reflection and practice. It focused on inner work with the goal of strengthening outer work, bridging the gap between the public/social and private/individual aspects of transformational change.

“This exploration has become a movement in some ways,” says williams. “Today we speak of ‘turning tides’ and a ‘great shift in consciousness’ coming to inform the way we make change in the world. There’s a growing recognition that we need to be more specific and emphatic about justice itself. Justice isn’t just about entitlements – it’s about honoring inherent rights, readjusting and renegotiating our relationship to the Other, bringing people who are marginalized back into the center."

This echoes a growing recognition in the NGO world that the social change sector itself may need more justice. It is often too siloed, too professionalized, and too divided into a central, elite, well-connected but tiny minority and a vast but marginalized majority, to cohere as an effective, broad-based, effective movement for transformational change. For example, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy reports that of the many thousands of highly diverse environmental groups across the US, just 2% get 50% of the available funding. The other 98% represent great diversity, energy and potential strength, but remain under-resourced and atomized.

Could contemplative practice help weave them into a movement?

“We don't all share same religion, or the same socio-ethnic derived cultures,” says williams. “So we have to re-form coalitions around some kind of shared relationships and practices. Contemplative practice appeals to a common humanity that can be shared across religious and secular lines.”

practicing justice

“Contemplative practice sustains movement work which is not easy to do over the long haul," says Claudia Horwitz. “The various traditions and practices people are grounded in carry with them a kind of wisdom that is so needed everywhere. In part that’s what allows these activists to show up for this work of crossing boundaries.”

The activists who attended the November 2013 retreat at the Garrison Institute were a highly diverse cross section of social change work, including faith-based organizations, transformational activism, donor organizing, citizen organizing, globalization and economic justice, environmental advocacy and environmental justice, gender equality, LGBT rights, disability rights and much else. They represented a wide range of backgrounds, communities, and spiritual or contemplative practices –Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, yoga, indigenous and others.

But no one at the retreat knew who represented what field or community, because participant bios weren’t circulated until after it was over. This was by design, said Horwitz, and allowed participants to focus on what linked them together as people instead of what distinguished them as professionals. “We had an open mike night, and what people ended up was so emblematic of the spiritual and cultural depth they were bringing to the table. Throughout the weekend we really got to see more and more of the fullness of each person."

“The willingness to reveal oneself is critical to justice,” says williams. “Social justice work is not just about amassing numbers and power, it can’t be all outward strategy and tactics. It has to be personal and inward, too. Contemplation reveals us back to ourselves.”

This may ring familiar bells with contemplative practitioners. Practice entails self-encounter and self-revelation -- cultivating awareness and attention, looking deeply and unflinchingly, facing up, letting go of projections and judgments, creating deep intentions, and deriving personal ethics and right action from inwardness. “By turning their attention inward,” says williams, “social justice advocates can learn to embody justice on a personal level, and have a more balanced relationship to it. Then justice isn’t something to be fought for, it’s something to be.”

This work is ongoing; more contemplative retreats for activists are planned for the future. Meanwhile to help extend its reach, William’s organization, the Center for Transformative Change, is conducting a wider survey of the social change agents.

lucia

I admit that I enjoy and actually look for a good challenge. I thrive in challenging environments. I make the best of a given situation and feel comfortable assessing and navigating rough waters. Therefore when I saw Universal Partnership's #30daysUP meditation challenge, I thought - why not? A challenge to sit, meditate, and clear my mind - let’s go! I knew I needed it, my mind was running game all over me!

I will admit, this challenge came in a good time for me - I was prime to do something to better manage my emotional and professional state of mind. I had just undergone quite a brutal beatdown when having to deal with extremely untrustworthy individuals and hoping they would do what is best for the people they represent. Unfortunately, my hopes were set too high and I entered full body, heart, mind and soul without the appropriate gear to manage it all. In the past, I had used meditation as a tool to help me cope with the daily strain on my body and heart when the daily job of LIFE took a toll on me. I will admit that during this time I had some other kinds of support. A friend of mine - let’s call him Smarty, really kicked into gear during this time. He helped me by listening, informally coaching, and highlighting aspects of my thought-process and communication skills that I had overlooked needed major work. Just imagine - I got two gifts from him, a book called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity and the Mind-Map Book. Now, if that’s not an indication of the “troubles” he saw in my flow, than I’m not sure what else could be.

Along comes the #30daysUP challenge and I will admit - it really took me to the next level of my evolution. I started on April 7th and I am still going strong. I can’t lie, there was a moment that I sat up to 18 minutes...then I had to go back down to 3 minutes! I’m now back up to 11 minutes and every day working my way up to my goal of 15 minutes daily. I can see things in a way that I never had before. I’m more open and less reactive. I have noticed that when something is triggering me, I know that breathing can get me through it - so I inhale, take in the moment - and exhale. I then am ready to either respond, or simply let it go until I can really handle the reaction that will follow in a productive way.

Just last week, I knew that if I didn’t meditate every day, I wasn’t going to get through it all - but it was more than just the meditation. Its as if I started paying attention and being more present in all aspects of my life. I have not only kept meditating beyond the 30 days (sometimes more than once a day when I feel the need to reboot), but when I do miss a day - I’m not as hard on myself and immediately get back to it the next day. I have also started to write in my journal, listen to music, and read. It's as if I’ve slowed down - but not necessarily my work flow or productivity, just what I prioritize and emphasize as needing immediate and stressful attention. Sometimes, my days are jammed with non-stop activity, but I can now stop, take a moment to take-in what is happening, and assess my next steps.

For example, one of the ways I used to manage relationships was going straight to the point without too much fluff or thought on who I was speaking to. So much so that at times I had no filter and it was as if I was interacting with objects that didn’t feel or react as a result of what I was saying and doing. My self-awareness was a bit off...to say the least. Am I 100% aware now? Not 100%, but definitely much more aware than I have ever been and working towards a much clearer and purpose-driven self. The #30daysUP challenge wasn’t the only time I started meditating. I had been doing it on and off for about two years. Yet, seeing the UP's mind the gap video, the structure, the posts and the tweets got me excited to be a part of something with a community of individuals who were striving to simply become better for the sake of helping others be better. It's what got me motivated to really try to stick to it and stay on course.

The idea that a daily practice could help re-train my mind to reconnect with my heart, my breath, my body, and ultimately with others is truly fascinating to me. So simple, yet it took me this long to get here.

Meditation was not like other stress-coping mechanisms like when I choose to write in my journal or swim, but it has helped me reflect and re-train my eyes to see, my heart to feel, and my mind to think about what is there in that present moment. I’ve learned to identify in much less time the things that make me happy, mad and those that take me off course and ultimately procrastinate. My mood is much less random, and I can actually feel and understand what is going on with my body and where my mind is. I value the present so much more than I ever have, and I know it can only get better. Thank you Rusia, #30daysUp and all who participated. Let’s keep it going!

erin howard

I had the honor of being coached by Rusia for 6 months. For 10 years, I have dedicated every aspect of my life to the immigrant rights movement and to efforts focused on educational equity and youth leadership development in Lexington, KY. While my passion drives me, there have been many times that I have felt lost in the work and consumed in the many needs. I would wrestle with guilt when I physically could not give anymore, and I would feel a deep sense of restlessness that I, in my leadership, was not enough. I struggled to find balance, prioritize efforts, and respect my own humanity.

Rusia challenged me from our very first session to integrate two new practices into my day - meditation and journaling - as well as to shift my mentality on movement in order to embrace the vision I had for my leadership. The one outlet I have always practiced was movement: working out, dancing, yoga, gymnastics, sports. But more as an effort to stay healthy, not as an means through which I could cultivate my creative, authentic and radically hopeful leadership. By integrating mediation and journaling and embracing movement as a conduit of connecting my mind and body, I experienced and continue to experience a tremendous amount of healing, appreciation, and love for myself, the work I *get* to to do, and those with whom I lead.

I am a commitment to empowering those directly impacted-- the youth and their families-- for the sake of an inclusive and just community. I forgive myself when I don't get it right; I seek understanding and keep an open mind when I need to be grounded. I am a commitment to creative leadership, to selfless listening, and to radical hope because my dream, my purpose is to help those that I meet become all they have been created to be.

Until my coaching with Rusia, I had not fully appreciated and embraced the creative, peace-building, and innocent manner of my leadership. I had not imagined and created a vision for my leadership, either. I even went as far as discounting major components of who I am to work within the system of education. Yet, she helped me find the words to articulate my presence; I can say unapologetically that, for this moment in my life, I am committed to working from within higher education to bare witness, to leverage resources and to create spaces for all who the system by nature and structure leaves out. Because this is exhausting and often times a mismatch of values and purpose, Rusia also guided me to ask those closest to me for the encouragement and affirmation I needed to keep going. I found peace and power in seeking this encouragement, and the vulnerability of doing so has deepened not only my leadership but also my friendships and collaborations.

Her coaching has helped me become a better mentor and supervisor. I cannot claim that I no longer struggle with taking on too much and losing myself in the work. My passion still gets the best of me. Yet, I have learned to identify the imbalances and conditioned tendencies that drain and degrade me. My awareness of the needs of others has increased; my concern to seek understanding has deepened; and I have begun to embrace my deep sense of empathy as a strength as opposed to an uncomfortable or embarrassing shortcoming. It takes strength to bare one's soul and emotions- shared joy, shared tears, shared frustration, shared hurt, shared hope- this helps a community grow.

I have stepped into the mantra that I will fiercely defend spaces, resources and leadership roles for those directly impacted by the issues I passionately work to address. I am a commitment to empowering those directly impacted-- the youth and their families-- for the sake of an inclusive and just community. I forgive myself when I don't get it right; I seek understanding and keep an open mind when I need to be grounded. I am a commitment to creative leadership, to selfless listening, and to radical hope because my dream, my purpose is to help those that I meet become all they have been created to be.

Rusia's coaching helped me articulate this vision. I found my center-- my sweet spot, my super powers. And while the struggles are many still and the injustices hurting and dehumanizing our communities seem to be overcoming and overwhelming, the movement, mediation and journaling I practice help remind me that I am connected to a loving, powerful people. Our connectedness is our existence, and even though I can't fix it all, I have an important part to contribute that depends on my creativity, my humanity, and my passion to mold a rising generation of leaders.

Thank you, Rusia, for teaching me to breath, for teaching me to honor my humanity, for encouraging my creative, movement-based leadership and for empowering me to find the words to embrace and speak life to my commitments and my story.



 


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UP’s video media arm is called deconstruct|MEDIA. Through deconstruct|MEDIA, we do all sorts of work that focuses on providing our movements with high quality, professional-grade access to video + photography. From event photography + video, to video shorts for organizational events + much more. And sometimes, just sometimes, we get political. Ok, we get political A LOT of the times.

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Rusia N. Mohiuddin
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