Leadership is for Everyone- notes from the LIFE Conference


Mo (second from right) with CALC staff at the LIFE event in Littleton

On April 26th, 2019, Mo McCanna attended the Leadership is for Everyone (LIFE) through our community scholarship in Littleton. She shared her reflections with us below. Thanks, Mo!


Leadership is for everyone (LIFE). What a fantastic statement, acronym and title for the Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership’s April conference. The day focused on equity and inclusion and quite a bit on equitable hiring and retention practices, specifically. I was grateful for the opportunity to attend on behalf of CALC and to share my reflections below.


Conference highlights

A valuable part of any conference is building new relationships. Because I work daily with mobility advocates, I always appreciate the opportunity to connect with people in other areas of health and environment. At my table, I learned from a nurse, a lab scientist, a water quality expert, a tobacco prevention professional and a retiree who recently established a nonprofit serving youth. What a wonderful mix of backgrounds, expertise and perspectives and all demonstrated their passion for and commitment to equity in the workplace.


The conference also featured simulations and activities that gave us a chance to observe, practice and reflect on workplace biases and best practices. One simulation involved an interview panel debriefing a group of diverse job candidates in a scripted conversation full of not-so-subtle biases. While many comments were shocking and distasteful, conference attendees admitted having heard similar things within their offices and agreed that we each are responsible for questioning these biases and helping change culture.


Another session stressed the importance of “stay interviews,” a practice where a supervisor will ask questions of a current employee like “What do you look forward to when you come into work? What are you learning? What can I do to make your experience at work better?” A stay interview provides the opportunity to acknowledge strong team members and explore ways to continue to develop and retain employees. We practiced these conversations in small groups which led to great discussion and advice across my table-mates about their own experiences supporting colleagues.


What did you learn that you will bring back to CALC?

I really value CALC’s mission and authentic efforts to build an inclusive culture and advance health equity outcomes in Denver. The exercises and conversations at this conference reminded me how important it is to confront our own biases and hold each other accountable so we can continue to build trust within the coalition and with community partners.


What did you learn that you will bring back to your workplace?

I’m so fortunate to work with a passionate, fun, talented, hardworking team at Bicycle Colorado, including our education staff who I supervise. In order to maintain and continue growing a strong team, I look forward to utilizing “stay interviews” to listen to everyone’s positive experiences, concerns and ideas and ensure that they feel supported and engaged in their work.

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