/ By Debra Rainey /
Upswell is about making and building meaningful connections with changemakers doing great things in the social good space, and what better way to do that than over a great meal?
During Upswell’s Community Dinners, you’ll “meet well while you eat well.” You’ll have the opportunity to go out into LA communities and experience the rich culture firsthand, while enjoying great food and conversation with your fellow changemakers.
We’re excited that LA local Carola Secada is working with us to create a series of dinner experiences you won’t want to miss! Carola is a seasoned community activist and organizer in the Greater Los Angeles area with broad experience in community outreach and engagement, and strategic collaboration for the common good.
She’s spent more than 15 years in the nonprofit sector in a number of capacities, including serving as a Common Good Consultant for the Common Good Collaborative; Director of Educational Partnerships at Every Monday Matters; Vice President of Programs at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy; and Executive Director of YMCA of Greater Long Beach.
Here’s how she’s working to make sure Upswell LA attendees enjoy a “full course” of LA’s cultural specialties.
DR: We’re excited to meet you and hear about your involvement with planning for Upswell! Can you tell us a little about yourself, and your work with the charitable community particularly?
CS: As a first-generation immigrant from Peru, I have witnessed firsthand the cruel consequences of poverty and political corruption. Since childhood, I have felt a responsibility to bring equity to underserved and underrepresented communities. After college graduation, my journey of social justice began in 2001 with my first job as a part-time youth worker. It was then I realized my calling was to develop, grow, and connect game changers. My career has evolved within the nonprofit sector through youth, community, and education systems development.
DR: How do you see your work experiences aligning with Upswell’s focus on building a community of changemakers to create real change?
CS: I have learned through my various life and professional experiences that strong leaders need to stay relevant to the needs of the community and the emerging leaders they serve. I have also learned that finding a career that fulfills your personal mission in life is the key to happiness. My personal mission is to help others empower themselves to fulfill their own personal missions with joy and passion; I wholeheartedly believe this will create a synergy that will change the world. Upswell is the perfect mission- and values-aligned vehicle for me to connect changemakers to each other and their communities in order to think of systematic, sustainable ways to create real change in both our local and global communities.
DR: Give us a sneak peek into the purpose of the dinners, and your role in organizing them.
CS: Coming from one of the culinary wonders of the world, Peru, it’s no surprise that ‘breaking bread’ is one my favorite ways to connect. I also believe that changemakers need to be proximate to the people and communities they serve, as well as the partners with whom they collaborate. There’s something magical about shortening the distance between people and allowing them to see each others’ humanity up close. The purpose of the dinners is to create intimate experiences for Upswell guests to have close proximity to innovative, progressive changemakers in Los Angeles and each other. Of course, these dinners need a host. As one of my top 5 strengths ‘woo’ dictates, this honor is right up my alley!
DR: What impact would you like the dinners to have on Upswell changemakers who participate in them?
CS: During the dinners, all guests can learn about each other and from each other, and walk away feeling they are part of a greater changemaking community. As changemakers, our calling can often be emotionally exhausting, and various supports are essential. My dream is for all guests to continue the conversation beyond the dinner and find meaningful ways to stay connected. We are all better together and we need each other to be beacons of hope for our causes, and to celebrate each others’ efforts and accomplishments.
DR: What are you most looking forward to about Upswell?
CS: I look forward to face-to-face connections from a cross-sectoral audience. I believe this proximity will help us change the narrative about how changemakers can work better together and sustain hope for a better world.
Debra Rainey is the manager of grants development at Independent Sector.