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Changemakers Return to Inspire Students in Sullivan’s Masterclasses and Skills-Based Sessions

Changemakers are on the march again as the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Masterclasses return for the Spring 2021 semester with five new online sessions, starting on Wednesday, Feb. 17 and running through mid-March. Meanwhile, in April the foundation will introduce its first virtual Skills-Based Sessions with workshop activities that can help anyone live a better life and pursue their personal goals more effectively. The first Skills-Based Session will be held on Wednesday, April 7, with three more classes scheduled throughout the month, all of them free and open to the public.

Click here for more details or to sign up for the Spring 2021 Masterclasses and Skills-Based Sessions.

College and university faculty are invited to use all Masterclass materials for their own coursework, and students and faculty alike can join in any of the free virtual sessions offered over the next two months.

“We’ve designed the Masterclass sessions so that everyone walks away with content and connection,” said Spud Marshall, the Sullivan Foundation’s director of student engagement and leader of the Masterclasses. “Our featured speakers share stories about their work and helpful tips and frameworks they use to advance social change in their field. And then we end the sessions with a networking lounge for participants to connect with coaches who can help you figure out how to apply that content to your personal life, problems in your home community, and through projects you want to get involved in.”

The next round of Masterclasses will include about a dozen coaches who will offer changemaking insights and help participants develop and implement their own ideas for action and personal improvement.

Marshall conducted a survey of the Fall 2020 Masterclass participants and was excited about the results. “The majority of the participants rank the Ignite Masterclass as the best virtual event they’ve ever attended,” he said.

Professors at Rollins College’s department of social entrepreneurship participated in the Fall 2020 sessions and have incorporated the material into their own classes. The success of the Masterclasses “speaks to how innovative the Sullivan Foundation is,” said Melissa Nelson, staff director of Rollins’ Social Impact Hub. “Some students said that, of all the virtual [activities] of last semester, these were the most engaging.”

Here’s a closer look at the Spring 2021 schedule of Ignite Masterclasses.

Note: All times are Eastern time.

Wednesday, Feb. 17: How to Use the SDGs to Localize Innovation
Session 1: 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Session 2: 6-7:15 p.m.

Dustin Liu, U.S. Youth Observer to the UN, talks about how to localize the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to make a difference in your own community.

Thursday, Feb. 25: How Systems Thinking Translates to Tangible Change
Session 1: 10-11:15 a.m.

Session 2: 2-3:15 p.m.
Alexis Taylor of the Global Entrepreneurship Network explains how to approach systems thinking and apply it to a multitude of settings, from launching social ventures to engaging as a local activist.

Wednesday, March 3: How to Build Collaborative Partnerships that Advance Global Development
Session 1: 1-2:15 p.m.
Session 2: 2:30-3:45 p.m.

What does it take to build transformative partnerships? Sam Vaghar of Millenium Campus Network shares his experiences of forging partnerships with numerous groups, from the UN to hundreds of universities.

Thursday, March 11: Disrupting Harmful Stories of People and Places
Session 1: 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Session 2: 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Ryan Pearson and Cornetta Lane of the Detroit Narrative Agency discuss how to build narrative power by and for communities of color in order to engage communities more fully in the work of social change.

Thursday, March 18: Building Bridges of Empathy Through Storytelling and Listening
Session 1: 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Session 2: 1:25-2:40 p.m.

As founder of VideoOut, Jordan Reeves has recorded more than 400 LGBTQ+ stories around the country. In this Masterclass, he’ll share the lessons he’s learned and ways to scale movements that drive tangible change.

Reagan Pugh of Assemble

Honing Your Skills
Reagan Pugh, co-founder of Assemble and a frequent facilitator of the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreats, will lead the new Sessions-Based Skills workshops. Pugh delivers keynote speeches and runs workshops on personal effectiveness and leadership development around the country. Here’s a look at the Skills-Based Sessions schedule for April 2021:

Note: All times are Eastern time.

Wednesday, April 7: How to Actually Figure Out the Right Career for You
12 noon-1:15 p.m.

In this interactive session, participants will be guided through reflection exercises to clarify their areas of curiosity, then construct a plan for running mini-experiments that will help them gain real experience, make real relationships and uncover real clarity.

Friday, April 16: How to Stop Wasting Time & Focus on What Matters Most
12 noon-1:15 p.m.

Time management is really distraction avoidance. In this session, you’ll get clear on what distracts you, reflect on the areas that deserve your attention and learn strategies to prioritize your day.

Wednesday, April 21: How to Tell Your Story & Enlist Others in Your Cause
12 noon-1:15 p.m.

Learn about the right mindsets you need to tell your story and strategies that will help you reflect on your life and future path and communicate with clarity and confidence.

Friday, April 30: How to Network & Get Mentors in a Virtual World
12 noon-1:15 p.m.

Networking and finding people who can guide you isn’t complicated. This session will help you reflect on the areas in which you need to grow to help identify the right mentor for you and work through a formula for approaching and building relationships with potential mentors.

Reagan Pugh Leads Oct. 6 Ignite Masterclass on Empathy as a Tool for Social Justice

Most of us believe in justice, but if we’re challenged to change our attitudes and beliefs about right and wrong, that’s a different story. In the Sullivan Foundation’s next Ignite Masterclass, Reagan Pugh of Assemble discusses the topic of “Developing Empathy as a Tool for Social Justice.”

The online class will be held in two sessions on Tuesday, Oct. 6. The first session takes place from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. (ET). The second session will be held from 3 p.m.-4:15 p.m. (ET). The sessions are free and open to the public.

Click here to register for the first session and here to register for the second session.

Related: Reagan Pugh builds connections through storytelling

Most people have no desire to change, Pugh says, and outdating hardwiring in our brains causes us to avoid the discomfort of growth. This instinctual desire to maintain the status quo is a direct threat to justice and excuses individuals and communities from doing the hard work of including, respecting and empowering everyone.

But Pugh says we can shift our perspectives, evolve and mature as human beings when we practice empathy and pay attention to the experiences of others.

This Ignite Masterclass session will guide participants through a dialogue on default mindsets, examine how fear prevents us from growth and provide strategies for developing empathy as a tool for justice.

As co-founder of Assemble, Pugh delivers workshops and keynote speeches on personal effectiveness and leadership development around the country. Prior to the launch of Assemble, he was Chief Storyteller for the innovation consulting firm, Kalypso, and guided initiatives on storytelling, culture and leadership development at companies like Nike, Pepsico and Kimberly Clark. Pugh is a past workshop facilitator at the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreats and has designed leadership courses for Texas State University, Trinity University and Angelo State University.

With its popular Ignite Retreats, usually held twice a year in North Carolina, currently on hold, the Sullivan Foundation is bringing social-change leaders, college students and faculty/staff together through the weekly Ignite Masterclass sessions—and all classes are free. Even better, many participants say it’s the best online event they have ever attended.

Spud Marshall, the Sullivan Foundation’s director of student engagement, leads the sessions. Each one features a mini-lecture from a social innovator about a specific initiative, followed by a chance to network with peers, Sullivan coaches and other leaders in the field.

Additionally, classes taught by professors from across the Sullivan network—as well as some non-Sullivan schools—attend and participate in the sessions. Participating in the Oct. 6 session will be Dr. Anne Stone of Rollins College and her Communications Studies class; Alyson Francisco of Salem College and her Principles of Management class; Dr. Bruce Dorries of Mary Baldwin University and his Civic Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship class; Melanie Bullock Harris of Elon University and her Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows; Liz Bailey of Elon University and her Exercise and Intervention class; and Valeri Werpetinski of the University of Illinois and her Illinois Impact Incubator participants.

“The Ignite Masterclass introduces you to leaders around the world engaged in social change and helps open doors so you can take the next step on your changemaking journey,” Marshall said. “With more than 50 coaches and speakers joining the sessions every week throughout the fall, bring your curiosity, because you never know who you might meet each week!”