Londolozi joined the Good Work Foundation recently in a collaboration of special events dotted all over America. The Good Work Foundation, of which Londolozi is the founding partner, has many diverse partners across South Africa (and beyond), all of them committed to reimagining education and working together for a better African future.
It was with great excitement that we, as Londolozi, joined Good Work Foundation to kick off this brand new ‘Leading from the Heart’ series. The Good Work Foundation’s Head of Development, Ryan James, was on location and gives us a first-hand account:
The Good Work Foundation’s ‘Leading from the Heart’ gathering launched in New York City on the 2nd May, led by CEO Kate Groch and her daughter Maya Groch. Dave, Shan and Boyd Varty represented Londolozi Game Reserve at the event.
We were honoured to have tennis legends and longtime Londolozi Guests, Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss, host the event at The Palm, a famous westside hangout. We were also honoured to have so many friends of Londolozi and Good Work Foundation alike in attendance, especially because all proceeds from the night were to go towards powering Good Work Foundation’s rural digital learning campus model in South Africa, now well on its way to reaching 26 000 learners by 2021.
Leading from the Heart is a new series that celebrates heart leadership, inclusivity, kindness, diversity and the ability of those things to propel organisations, movements and communities forward into a more hopeful future.
A value shared by both the Londolozi team, and their 2020 sustainability mission, and Good Work Foundation’s drive to harness and celebrate African Ubuntu as we grow into a bigger organisation.
Yes, we need business plans and strategies, but more than ever, we also need meaning, courage, long-term planning (sometimes we won’t get to see the result), and the ability to see the potential in others, and that’s what leading from the heart means to us.
The evenings were designed to be small and intimate to allow for real dialogue and questions to be asked. Often in fundraising there is a great divide between the idea and the conversation. The Good Work Foundation team really wanted to share our own leading from the heart journey and hear how others are navigating our world using a similar approach.
For the first time in this format, Good Work Foundation’s Founder and CEO, Kate Groch, and GWF USA Foundation Trustee, Boyd Varty, shared Good Work Foundation’s origin story, which tracks back to a time when Kate was a travelling teacher, Boyd and his sister, Bronwyn, were her students, and Africa was their classroom.
“In the late 90s my parents, in a bold move, pulled me and my sister out of high school, handed us to a 26-year-old teacher called Kate Groch and decided to send the three of us on the adventure of a lifetime. An adventure that continues as I stand here today. When people heard that my parents were pulling us out of a good private boarding school and sending us into an Africa that had only recently allowed South Africans across its borders, they were shocked… and frankly concerned. Africa was dangerous, destitute and volatile. But my parents would not be deterred for two reasons. Firstly, they believed in their core that there is no education more powerful than being immersed in a diversity of culture and learning all the magical colours of the human heart. And secondly, in our teacher Kate, they saw a woman who carried her desire to educate like a force field.” – Boyd Varty, GWF USA Foundation Trustee.
“And, as we sat under the shade of the trees, and as I set out a learning journey for Boyd, Bronwyn (and me), sometimes adults and children would come and sit with us. And as is the natural way under trees in Africa a kind of sharing would begin to take place. We would offer what we had and the village, in return, would share with us. And while we didn’t know it at the time, the seeds of something deep were being sown. The big difference between us and them was the ability to channel creativity and personal expression into the world. We had access to education, and they did not and that’s when the early ideas of Good Work Foundation’s mission started to emerge.” – Kate Groch, Good Work Foundation CEO
What a privilege to have Billie Jean and Ilana as hosts and special guests. If you are unfamiliar with the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI), then we suggest you head to their website and take a look at this truly inspirational work. Billie Jean and Ilana are fierce human rights warriors and the BJKLI strives to promote and showcase those pioneers who are on the front lines of building a more respectful and inclusive society.
Leading from the Heart stopped at three cities in the US and we hope to continue to curate this as a powerful and thought-provoking series where we can gather to discuss and celebrate people and organisations who are “gettin brave” or “rumbling” as Brene Brown (another one of our heart leadership heroes) would say.
The Journey across America reinforced how two continents have so much to share with each other. We truly are because of you and you truly are because of us. Open hearts, communication, friendship and a shared humanity can really change the world. Well … we think so anyway.
Some more important notes
A very special thank you to the incredible Pat Mitchell, curator of TEDWomen, who has gone above and beyond to help us plan and prepare for this series of events, guided and mentored so many of us – you truly are an inspiration. Also Merle Blackman, a South African in New York, who paints the Manhattan skyline pink on a regular basis!
If you’re interested in bringing a Leading from the Heart gathering to your city, send an email directly to Good Work Foundation’s Communications Manager, Gemma Thompson. You can also securely donate to this first-ever Leading from the Heart series online by clicking here.
Last but most certainly not least, thank you to every single person (you know who you are) who arrived and supported us on these beautiful evenings. Good Work Foundation would not be where it is today without you.
With deep gratitude,
The Londolozi Family, Good Work Foundation, Kate Groch and Ryan James