What does it take to make communities thrive? How can leaders be the change agents communities need and deserve to keep them healthy and sustainable? In this podcast episode, Kiaron Bailey ’21, M.P.S Community Leadership, shares her experience as a community leader in Baltimore.
Curious about UMBC’s M.P.S. Community Leadership Program? Check it out here: https://leader.umbc.edu
Dennise Cardona 0:01
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of UMBC Mic'd Up Podcast. Today we're going to be talking with Kiaron Bailey. She is a recent graduate from 2021, of UMBC's Community Leadership graduate program. So Kiaron, we have chatted so many times over the years since you started at UMBC. I think it was right at the beginning of when you started the graduate program in community leadership, I had you come in. This was before COVID. We had like the whole film set up. We did a film, B roll footage out in the campus. It was so fun getting to know you then. And that was the beginning of your journey. And then I know we chatted, what maybe halfway through your journey. And now here we are again today. And you have graduated, you graduated in 2021. So over a year ago, you've been out there in the real world, doing your thing with community leadership. And I just want to have a conversation around what that's like. So what makes you get up out of bed every morning and go to work in the community leadership field?
Kiaron Bailey 1:05
Yeah. Oh, honestly, I think it's the fact that, I know that it's probably cliche, but I know that my work is serving like a larger purpose, if that makes sense. So it makes it a lot easier going to work each day knowing that every day the decisions I'm making, the interactions I'm having, it's for a longer term goal of making sure that communities are healthy, and that they are receiving equitable health outcomes.
Dennise Cardona 1:38
Yeah, that's really important. And it's so it's so wonderful that there are individuals like yourself out there. Professionals doing that work, because it's such important work, the community needs it. And it's, this would be a totally different world if nobody was dedicated to that. Yeah. Yeah. So Kiaron, from when you first entered the UMBC graduate program in community leadership to when you graduated in 2021, did your goals and expectations for the field shift any? And if so, how?Ki
Kiaron Bailey 2:14
So my goals have shifted a little bit. And so initially, when I got started in the program, I wanted to start a nonprofit that focused on physical, mental, and financial well being. And yeah, kind of just start that off from scratch after graduation. But now, after being in the role that I'm in, I realized that starting your nonprofit is super cool. Um, but what that looks like has kind of changed a little bit, and the timeline has has shifted significantly. So yeah, I mean, I guess the overarching goal is making sure that I'm making an impact within my community, it is still the same, but how I go, how I'm making impact has shifted. I hope that makes sense.
Dennise Cardona 3:10
Yeah, it does. And it does make sense because I think that's true of anything we do in life, because life is constantly changing, constantly shifting. Challenges are coming upon us that we we don't see coming. And we have to adapt, and we have to be flexible in that adaptation. So I think that's where growth comes from anyway, is not being in a stagnant, stagnant type of environment or field where everything's constantly the same. So I think that that speaks highly of life in general, that that's, that's the way life is. And so being knowing that you can go out there and be a professional in a world that's constantly changing, I think just puts you at a higher level of professionalism. And so I think I think that's just very, very representative representative of, of life in general, really.
Kiaron Bailey 4:05
If I'm being honest, the shift kind of came from my experience within the community leadership program. And truly just from conversations that I had with classmates and the different courses I was taking, I think that really helped shape and mold what my new direction is going to be. So yeah, I'm super grateful for that experience.
Dennise Cardona 4:28
Well, let's talk about what your current role is. What are you doing currently, and maybe we can talk a little bit about where you see yourself going with that?
Kiaron Bailey 4:37
Yeah, so currently, I'm the operations manager for Morgan Center for Urban Health Equity. So what does that mean? It means a lot of things. It means really, truly, our research team in our programs team, they just need to be rooted, rooted within those areas. Um, so I take care of all the behind the scenes work to make sure that they have all the resources that they need that the contracts and all of like the operational things are going smoothly and so that they don't have to worry about that. And they can really just truly focus on their work.
Dennise Cardona 5:16
Nice. And so you have a finance background? Correct. And so this, this kind of ties into that a little bit. Do you do you use that background a lot, significantly in this role?
Kiaron Bailey 5:27
I wouldn't say I use it a lot. I do have budgetary aspects. So that kind of falls within the finance realm. And a lot of my role is truly just the skills that I use are truly like byproducts that I learned from being in a finance role. And then also really, truly things that I've learned from the Community Leadership Program as well, simply because there are aspects that I would have never touched within the finance world that I learned. As far as it goes, as far as like research is concerned, and the course work that we had to think about methods, and I'm able to have conversations with faculty about certain things, at least entry level in that, you know, it's not really my field, or my thing, but we can at least have those, you know, those entry level conversations so I can understand how to better serve them. And then also just a lot of the learnings from the actual community leadership courses. So they're heavily focused on Baltimore City. And in my work now, my center focuses on, our center that I work at, focuses on Baltimore City, too. So there's a lot of connections, there's a lot of lessons from those community leadership courses that I use, pretty regularly. I'll say, a lot more than what I thought I was going to use them. So that's always nice.
Dennise Cardona 7:01
It's really nice when you can take something that you learn in a classroom and apply it to everyday life. Yeah, that that's the whole, to me, that's the whole point of graduate work. I know I'm in a graduate program right now at UMBC. And that is if that aspect was not something that was included in graduate work, I don't think I'd be as interested in it. I would want to be able to make sure that what I am learning, I'm actually applying because otherwise, I'm not going to remember anything. And I think the average person would say the same thing. On average, most people, we need to be able to actually apply what we're learning to actually reinforce it and make it part of our muscle memory. Yeah. Now, what does community leadership mean to you? How would you describe that to somebody who maybe doesn't even realize there's a need for community leadership out there?
Kiaron Bailey 7:55
Now that I'm kind of in a role that's more community facing, or at least in a position or at a center that is, and I'm also back involved in all of my community volunteer projects, I'm realizing that community leadership is the foundation to healthy and thriving communities. And I say that because it's so important, even if it's just a neighborhood association, even if you think it's like a small scale, it's so important to make sure that your communities are healthy, and they're getting the resources that they need. So I think it's one of those underlining things that people are kind of just doing naturally that they don't know that they're doing. But it's still community leadership, and it's still making sure that, you know, your community is healthy, it's thriving. And yeah, your family, your children, everyone's getting what they need.
Dennise Cardona 8:59
What do you think society would look like without community leaders?
Kiaron Bailey 9:06
Yeah. You know, that's a world I don't want to imagine. I was thinking about it. And it's just so hard because the community leaders are the ones who are pushing us the next step forward, you know, and it's not just your public service leaders that you may think about, but it's our grandmas. It's our granddad's. It's our aunties or uncles or cousins. It's so many different people. So I think it would look like not growth, right. Like you're still kind of just they're stagnant. I think it doesn't look joyful. I mean, at least how I envision it in my head. It's not joyful. It's not happy. It's just a community that has been stuck in the status quo, if that makes sense. And, yeah, it's not one that I think I would want to live in.
Dennise Cardona 10:06
You and me both
Kiaron Bailey 10:08
It's kind of hard to envision because I couldn't even, like what I was thinking about, that question, I can't even envision a community that I've known of, or I've been a part of that hasn't shifted or made changes, you know, not even those slow changes. But just changes. It was hard. That was hard.
Dennise Cardona 10:32
Absolutely. What would you say was your biggest takeaway from studying community leadership at UMBC?
Kiaron Bailey 10:39
Yeah, that one's a lot easier. I think the thing that I've learned the most is that, while we are as experts at our own craft, we are not experts inside of communities, especially in the communities in which we live in. So it's important to listen to those communities that we're trying to help, or we want to be a part of. It's important to be a student of those communities before trying to be a leader in them. And that's something that I've taken with me everywhere and just trying to be a student. And then when the time is right, you know, you'll eventually shift from being a student to someone that, you know, is trustworthy, and, you know, can actually make an impact or make the impact that you want to make within those communities you're trying to help.
Dennise Cardona 11:29
That's powerful. That really is Oh, that's, that's really powerful. I'm like speechless after what you just said, because that just sums up exactly what the whole feel of community leadership to somebody who doesn't study community leadership. That's what I would expect. someone like yourself who's in it, immersed in it everyday to say, and but it's just hearing that it just, it's really important that we have people out there, keeping the finger on the pulse of what's happening in the community and bringing people like myself and others who may not be involved in their community and out into the community to understand that they are important to it as well. And really, it takes a village. It's the involvement of so many individuals that come together to make the community strong, healthy, and sustainable. So Kiaron, I want to thank you so much for being here with us today. This was really great having this conversation, it opened my eyes, much more to community leadership. And I hope that the viewers, if you're watching this on YouTube, or listening on a podcast that you got the same equal, if not more, just knowledge and understanding of how important community leadership is to this world. So thank you so much for bringing your insights and sharing them here with us today.
Kiaron Bailey 12:48
Thank you for having me Dennise. It was nice seeing you again.
Dennise Cardona 12:52
It was great seeing you too. Really great. Thanks for listening to this episode of UMBC's Mic'd Up. We hope that you enjoyed listening to it. If you want to learn more about UMBC's community leadership graduate program, visit leader.umbc.edu.