Cathy Raines, KNFP-13, Director of Executive Support, National Public Radio
This article was originally published in the March 2003 issue of the KFLA Newsletter.
Cathy Raines Quick Fact: Cathy currently serves on the Washington Area Women's Foundation's Leadership Awards Committee, which each year gives grants to small nonprofits that exhibit vision and impact in serving the critical needs of women and girls in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
How have you, though your leadership, made a difference in one of your communities?
The work that I've done at NPR, bringing more diversity to the ranks of management in journalism, I think has made a difference in who works in public radio and who tells the stories on the air. Of course, I haven't done it by myself.
What sustains you in your practice of leadership and your commitment to change?
Justice and fairness are big motivators for me...a sense that there is still a long way to go, but lots of possibilities for all the people who work in public radio to more completely contribute to the work of public radio. The most immediate thing is my connection to individual people who are working hard to deliver their best work to NPR's audience and to their colleagues. When I talk to someone who feels passionate and committed to making a difference, then I get reenergized to do my work. I make a point to seek out younger people who sometimes see more possibilities than the people who've been working here longer.
What do you consciously say to yourself, or do, that helps you stay on track with your goals?
I'm pretty disciplined about actually sitting down and thinking consciously about what I'm trying to achieve and what I need to do to get there. I have that conversation with myself all the time.
What is your passion?
Seeing people get excited and achieve things that make a difference in their lives.
How do you practice good self-care?
I meditate every day. I walk to and from work, which is 4.5 miles roundtrip. I do that for my physical and mental well-being. I make a big pot of vegetable soup on the weekends and bring it for lunch most days so I make sure I'm getting a lot of vegetables every day. I make a conscious effort to spend time with friends, I take yoga twice a week, and I take a three-week vacation every year. That's enough, right?
How do you measure success?
It's a hard question. I see how much more there is to do, rather than how far we've come. On the issue of diversity, we have so far to go.
If you had to give an aspiring leader one piece of advice, what would it be?
To the best of your ability, figure out what you're good at and figure out what you're not so good at. Don't try to get better at what you're not good at; instead find other people who complement you.
How are you different or what do you do differently as a result of your experience as a Kellogg Fellow? Why?
One of the main focuses of my fellowship was minority groups within a culture and how they maintain their cultural identity. I was interested in that topic, in part, because I've done diversity work at NPR for a long time. So I went to Australia to learn about the Aboriginal culture and people, who make up about 2 percent of the country's population. One of the first conversations I had with an Aboriginal person was with a professor of Aboriginal culture, a woman who was also Aboriginal herself. I called her, explained my quest, and asked if she could find the time in the next few weeks to meet with me. She said no. I was taken aback, so I asked her if she could tell me why. "Over the years," she said, "I have developed a personal policy that I will not meet with anybody to talk about Aboriginal culture without advance contact, because we as a people have given our story away to too many people for too long, to people who mistell our stories or profit from them." That was a really big eye-opener for me and became such an important lesson for me about the assumptions I make about my inherent goodness and purity of purpose. I wanted to say to her, "If you only knew me'" But she didn't know me--she based her answer on completely legitimate experience. It taught me about the assumptions I made about myself as an individual instead of as a representative of a group. Sometimes, when you go to learn about others, when you go outside of your group, you have a mirror held up to reflect back on you. That experience has been incredibly valuable as I continue to do the diversity work that I do at NPR.
Are you a better leader than you were five years ago? How do you know?
As a fellow, all I had to commit to was to be a better person. That wasn't hard! There's always room to get better. Yes, I definitely think that there are ways that I'm a better leader. I have realized the importance of persistence to leadership. I also understand now that persistence doesn't necessarily mean that I have to do it all myself. When I see that I'm not making strides toward something I want to achieve, then I think about who else needs to be involved in this. There are also ways that I'm so much more aware of the responsibility of leadership, so I also see where I fall short.
Can leadership be invisible? How and why have you practiced invisible leadership?
Not completely. People may not be aware of the person who's doing the leading, but something different is happening. That has to be a mark of leadership.