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Ana Ramirez Zarate, Policy Analyst of Resilience Orange County on Leadership Development

Ana Ramirez Zarate is a Policy Analyst at Resilience Orange County, an organization working to build a movement of resilient youth leaders of color that work towards social-systemic transformation.

Ana is an advocate for families and individuals navigating the criminal and immigration systems and leads participatory defense efforts through the OC Rapid Response Network. Her recent completion of the Virtual Art of Leadership curriculum through the Rockwood Leadership Institute has provided transformative leadership skills to help her explore and expand her personal capacity to inspire and align others for community building and social impact.

1. Tell us about Rockwood Leadership Institute.

I had the opportunity to participate in the Virtual Art of Leadership curriculum through the Rockwood Leadership Institute. For over 20 years, Rockwood has provided transformative leadership development trainings to social change leaders and activists all over the world. The Virtual Art of Leadership training curriculum combined self-paced readings and reflections live facilitated discussions, and small group interaction with other leaders to help explore and expand our personal capacity to inspire and align others. 

2. How did you come to be selected as a Fellow?

I was fortunate to be selected to participate in the Virtual Art of Leadership. Rockwood Leadership Institute is very intentional about accepting participants, they consider the diversity of the entire cohort to ensure that the learning experience is safe, inclusive, and fruitful for all those involved. Some of what they consider to select participants are race, gender identity, sexual orientation, issue area, regions, and the role each participant holds within their respective organizations. I believe that my personal experience being an immigrant woman of color, being directly impacted, and at the same time leading immigration work alongside the community is what created the opportunity for me to join the Virtual Art of Leadership cohort to share my perspective and experience with other leaders across the globe. 

3. How did this program change how you view your own leadership development as a social change advocate?

Experiencing the Virtual Art of Leadership with other leaders was a reflective opportunity for me. Every discussion, every concept, every assignment made me reflect on my leadership style. The curriculum physically and mentally disrupted the way I exercised my leadership. I often caught myself wanting to get into the shared activities right away and I was reminded by the facilitators that we had more than enough time for the activity and for community building. Given the work I have done, responding to immigration enforcement, supporting families impacted by the system (including my own) it often feels that I am putting out fires constantly. Through the training, I reflected on how these realities of having to respond to crises manifested themselves in my leadership style where I wanted to rush into things because I felt like I had no time. The reality is that yes, these crises are happening, but it is important to take time to be intentional with each other and do the necessary relationship building. Being in a deep partnership entails building trust which takes time. It was a truly transformational experience, I feel like I have gained additional tools, language, and a sense that I can tap into my power and leadership in a way that feels authentic and true to my values. 

Learn more about Resilience OC and the collective movement to empower youth in our community.