In our journey of life, we all have moments that have shaped us and influenced our individual viewpoints. I have had many influential moments along my path that feed into my work, my relationships, my very being. Journey with me through just a few...
Explore: In 1999, I visited Africa for the first time and felt a connection to the earth that was more visceral and real than I had ever experienced before and I saw firsthand America’s shadow on the world. Since that time I have visited other African countries, as well as Spain, Italy, France, England, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Japan and Korea. These experiences have been life altering and mind bending…opening my mind to windows of possibility for me to understand and empathize in ways that extend boundaries.
Discover: In 1976, the Episcopal Diocese of Philadelphia provided me with the opportunity to write and pilot an African-centric Bible study curriculum for children ages 8-12. The pilot was held in a historic Episcopal Church in the heart of a low-income Puerto Rican community that embraced me fully. Through the power of sharing with these children and their families, I was able to understand and recognize the power of shared humanity and perspective, across culture and class, when interaction is grounded in spirituality and aspiration.
Grow: I graduated from high school in 1975. In 1977 I bonded with my life partner in an African ceremony that shook the walls of the historic Anglican Church in which we gathered. In 1982, I graduated from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the third institute of higher education I had attended. By then I had two children, a home and a growing career in adult education. It was at this point that as a 25 year old I recognized I was not to have a traditional path through this life…and that I was one who would never stop pushing to be all that I aspired to be. I had learned about patience; compromise and pushing hard today for tomorrow. Young in years and naïve in life, I also had the wisdom in my heart and steel in my bones inherited by generations of strong African American women. These are not my gifts alone; I see them in every young woman I meet—who takes on more than she can or should—and thrives.
Experience: In 2006, I traveled to a remote village in the mountains of Mexico with my sister to secure the release of a nephew who had been institutionalized. Neither of us speak Spanish. Fierce with the love of family and confidence that Spirit had only right intention for us, we were led, step by step through our journey. Wild and impetuous, like a western movie thriller, we used the power of purpose and love, instead of guns, to bring him home.
Lesley Grady has spent 30 years working to develop and strengthen communities. In those years, her personal, professional and civic activities have allowed her to connect with diverse groups and perspectives to better understand how to create positive change and solutions to community needs.