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NLLI Webinar Series: Leading in a Time of Crisis

NLLI Webinar Series: Leading in a Time of Crisis

Leading in a Time of Crisis: Building Personal, Organizational and Movement Resilience


The Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis it has ushered in challenge our leadership on every level. We are called to be more powerful and effective on our own, to help our organizations pivot to new needs and new opportunities, and to build a movement strong enough to create the more just and equitable world this moment demands. 

Please join your NLLI alumni community for a webinar series that will follow the themes of the NLLI’s three-week-long retreats, filtered through the lens of resilience. In the first week, we’ll share our experiences of managing our personal resilience, working with a few new tools, and hearing how organizations are shifting their norms and practices to support resilience among staff and leaders. In the second week, we’ll hear from our peers about how our organizations are expressing their resilience, adapting to what the moment requires, letting go of long-held practices and structures that no longer pertain and developing new approaches, new priorities, and new processes to cope with this moment. In the third week, we’ll focus o n building a more resilient movement. Has there ever been a moment that more powerfully called for strong and resilient movements? How is the crisis creating opportunity and strategic direction to build stronger movements that can bring into being the more equitable, just, and beautiful world we envision?  

The dictionary defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” We know that true resilience requires equitable access to resources – and that the more our organizations can fight for fairness, equity and the safety of our members, the more resilient they, and we, become. In NLLI, we talk about the need for “adaptive leadership” that can recognize and respond to significant trends of change that transform the landscape. When faced with a profound crisis – like the current Coronavirus pandemic – we must be especially adaptive as well as strong, courageous, compassionate, determined, loving, and visionary. These are some of the qualities that define resilience at this moment in history.

These webinars will provide a space where NLLI leaders can come together, share their experiences, seek solace and sustenance, learn and grow together, and move forward with a renewed sense of purpose. While we will provide that container – with some needed structure – we will invite our community to help co-create and shape our space to make it valuable and relevant to you and the challenges you face.


Labor's Response to the Coronavirus Epidemic: Leading in a Time of Crisis

Time/Date:  Tuesday, March 31st, 2020, 12 PM - 2 PM EST

Join the national NLLI community conversation about the current public health and economic crisis.

  • How is the coronavirus crisis impacting your members, their families and our communities?
  • What is your organization doing on its own and in partnership with others to address this crisis?
  • What are some best practices our organization might implement in this moment?
  • What are the longer-term implications of this inflection point in our history and how might we respond to drive a progressive agenda for our future?
  • How is this crisis personally challenging to you as a leader?
Now is the time for social engagement, mutual aid and support, creative thinking and the kind of courage and determination that has built the labor movement over many years.  Together, we can meet the challenges of this moment and forge a path to a brighter future.

Watch Here


Week 1: Building Personal Resilience in a Time of Crisis

Date/Time: Thursday, May 7, 2020; 12:30 – 2 PM Eastern Time

How Am I Doing? How Are We Doing? Strategies for Maintaining Equilibrium, Connectedness, and Morale In Crisis



  • Kathleen Mulligan, Co-Director, NLLI (Host/Moderator)

  • Nicole Korkolis, Director of Communications, Education & Research, OPEIU

  • Felicia Griffin, Deputy Director, Partnership for Working Families

  • Hanad Mohamud, Associate Director for Program Coordination & Leadership Development, Solidarity Center

This crisis is affecting our leadership at every level. We and our organizations are called upon to be at our most powerful and effective at the same time that many of us are experiencing intense and personal crisis responses. Those responses can range from hyper fight-or-flight response to depression, disconnection, and lethargy – and wherever they fall on that spectrum they can undermine our leadership. We are called to be present for our members, while our families and coworkers need us more than ever. And our old habits of work may not work for us now – we’re on zoom too many hours a day, our workout and eating routines are disrupted, and we lack access to the stress outlets that normally help us cope. 

How do we meet the needs of the moment while also maintaining our sanity? How do we serve our members and not leave our families, communities, and selves behind? This webinar will provide some helpful tools and strategies for managing yourself and your team, with an eye toward practical solutions to navigate our unexpected and unwelcome circumstances. You’ll be reminded of some of the NLLI’s recommendations for self-care, you’ll get new tools to help you inhabit your best self, and you’ll hear from NLLI peers who are helping their organizations be more responsive to the unique needs of staff and leaders. 

We want to get through this – together – in a way that bolsters our energy and our humanity, strengthens our teams, and keeps us connected. We hope you’ll join us!

Watch Here


Week 2: Building Organization Resilience in a Time of Crisis

Time/Date: Thursday, May 21st, 2020; 1 PM - 2:30 PM

How Is My Organization Doing?  Tools for Maintaining Equilibrium and Adapting to Extraordinary Challenges


  • Jim Williams, Jr., IUPAT
  • Karen White, NEA
  • Nia Winston, UNITE-HERE


Our organizations are dealing with incredible pressures, with many members facing economic devastation because of lay-off, while others who are still working on the front lines confront grave personal risks. 

How are our organizations responding to the challenges of this crisis? We will hear from leaders whose unions have been remarkably adaptive, using their existing capacities in inventive ways and quickly building new capacities to make their organizations more resilient. And, then webinar participants will share their own organization’s particular challenges and best practices.

The presenters will explore questions like:

  • How has my experience in NLLI helped prepare me to lead my organization at this time of crisis?"
  • What are some of the things my union is doing in the midst of this crisis that were not previously possible?"
  • What might my union do differently that we are not yet doing to address this crisis and its aftermath?"

Watch Here


Week 3: This Is an Uprising!  How Labor Leaders Are Stepping Into this Movement Moment

Date:  June 30th, 2020: 2 PM - 3:30 PM


We are witnessing a historic inflection point with a growing movement demanding deep systemic change.  Are labor leaders mere observers on the stage of history?  Or, are we joining this struggle to confront decades of racist policing and centuries of white supremacy?  The choices we make may help determine the outcome of this unprecedented fight.

We will have an opportunity to learn from the experience of four great NLLI alums who lead central labor bodies:  Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou of Minneapolis, Hany Khalil of Houston, Vonda McDaniel of Nashville, and John Cartwright of Toronto.  

Together, we'll reflect on these questions: 

  • How have the dual crises of pandemic and economic collapse exposed underlying inequities in our society and economy?

  • How has the Black Lives Matter movement impacted each of these cities and their labor movements?

  • What is the interplay between those crises and the wave of racial justice protests?

  • How do labor leaders support and lean in on the movement energy unleashed by Black Lives Matter?

  • How do we emerge from this moment with a vision of a more just post-pandemic world and the power to achieve it?  

  • What are our greatest challenges in the coming six months?

    Watch Here


Preparing for a November Crisis: Labor's Role in Defending Democracy

It has become increasingly clear that the U.S. could be facing a historic political crisis in November if – after months of telegraphing his intentions, suppressing the vote, undermining the voting process, and delegitimizing the results – Trump loses the election, rejects the outcome, and refuses to cede power. This possibility is not just being contemplated by anti-authoritarian activists and other progressives; it is being widely discussed in mainstream media outlets.

On September 10, 2020, the National Labor Leadership Initiative (NLLI) convened a discussion -- "Preparing for a November Crisis: Labor's Role in Defending Democracy" -- for the broad NLLI community. Featuring the below speakers:

  • Tefere Gebre [Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO]
  • Princess Moss [Vice President, National Education Association]
  • Ken Ringmaiden [President, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades]
  • Stuart Appelbaum [President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union]
  • Shawna Bader Blau [Executive Director, Solidarity Center]
  • Erica Smiley [Executive Director, Jobs with Justice]
  • Bob Master [Political Director, CWA District 1]
  • Jennifer Epps Addison [Center for Popular Democracy, Network President and Co-Executive Director]

    Watch Here

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