What's New: Eve Barry
Who knew that a grant-writing class could be a mind-expanding, unforgettable learning experience? Certainly not I—but then I discovered Eve Berry and her Center for Community Leadership.
Buffalo got lucky in 2007 when Berry, after twenty-some years traveling as a consultant (Ethiopia, Honduras, England, all over the U.S.), chose us as her home base. An ongoing training program at the Red Cross kept her coming back until she was hooked. “I’d leave Buffalo every time and think, ‘Wow, I can’t believe the talent that’s here!’,” she says. “And the Midwest kind of friendliness and community pride … reminded me of my hometown, Cincinnati.”
Berry bought the oldest residence in Buffalo, the Coit House, and in 2010 she leased a small building at 393 Delaware (part of Trinity Church), transforming it into the Center where she would teach WNY professionals organizational survival skills.
When I think back—fondly—on my own class with Berry, I find myself remembering much more than the content. Though the course made me a better grant writer, it was her skills as a facilitator that astonished me. Just a few hours into the fourteen-hour session, all sixteen people knew each other’s names and were invested in each other’s successes. Berry’s quiet presence and uncanny ability to read each individual created a rare ambiance of trust and camaraderie. We represented a history museum, water-quality advocates, projects that addressed poverty and diseases, an image-changing Buffalo festival, and S.E.N.S.E.S, a wonderful East Side learning center for youth. We bonded, and became a community.
Why a Center for Community Leadership? Don’t the colleges cover it?
There are already good programs, but I wanted to concentrate on the smaller organizations and provide them with an accessible gathering place, a shared community space they can use. The space reflects my belief that we’re all connected. What each of us does affects the whole.
How is Community Leadership different from earlier leadership styles?
Twenty-first century leadership skills are very different from what we needed even ten years ago. The body of knowledge, our experience base, must be broader, with more levels than prior leaders needed … Things like emotional intelligence, group intelligence, are necessary kinds of knowledge. And thinking outside our own silo—that’s especially important in WNY, where I do sometimes find reluctance to look beyond our own experience.
Where do you see the most room for improvement in organizations?
What I see least well done? Program design and evaluating. So many organizations—businesses, too—just go forward doing what they do because that’s what they do. Nobody stops to make a logical case for the need, and how they’re meeting that need (or not). Also, organizations don’t address sustainability well enough. They’ll put all the eggs into one basket—one event or one grant. It’s like an investment portfolio; they need to balance it for long-term survival.
Center for Community Leadership/Eve Berry & Partners, LLC, 393 Delaware Ave.; 240-9464, www.eveberry.com