Empower, not Me-Power

LORAS COLLEGE- On Thursday, Sept. 19, Loras College Women’s Leadership Alliance hosted Autumn Pino, a Loras College ’99 and Master’s ’03 alum, to give a presentation about leadership and service. Autumn is currently the principal of Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Pino began her presentation by describing her position at Roosevelt.

“I stand before you today not as a famous author, or a famous person at all.  I stand before you as a middle school principal.” 

The room turned silent as she provided multiple examples of how the school serves as a safe space for students. At Roosevelt, students are safe from violent neighborhood gangs, street violence, and violence in their homes. Students at Roosevelt look up to her for comfort and help when faced with dangerous situations occurring outside of the school. Pino tells us about how she helped a student, who was trying to leave a gang. 

She was able to help keep him safe after he told her, “I am scared that if I leave school today, I will be shot.” The student told her that he just wanted to go back to class, where he felt safe. 

Pino is dedicated to helping her students and she describes herself as honored to serve these students every day. When she has job interviews with teachers, she tells them, “if I call you for this job, please do not accept it if you will not love these students like I do.”

Through her work at Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy, Pino learned the importance of servant leadership. Servant leadership is doing service for those you lead.

“Leadership isn’t about ‘me-power’ its intended to ’empower’ and those two letters should not be confused. We have to lift up others. By uplifting up others, powerful and transformational results can happen.”

She described important qualities for a leader, some including reflection, being authentic, thankful, and never underestimating the talents of others.  She also talked about how we need to lean on each other through teamwork. When a job becomes too difficult to perform alone, one must accept help. 

“Shared leadership is the difference between implementing change and sustaining change; but servant leadership leaves a gravity-defying legacy of shared capacity and commitment.”

Pino empowers herself through service to others saying, “we all have the courage to be leaders and the capacity to be servants.” 

She encourages everyone to find their reasons to get out of bed in the morning. As a fearless advocate for her students, her service is motivated by the students that depend on her. She strives to get the necessary services needed, even if it’s only needed for one student.

“We need to build schools around students, not teachers.”

After the presentation, Pino commented on her overall goal, “I always want my actions to speak louder than my self-promotion. I want to share our students’ stories with the world because they are very talented and many people underestimate the power of a middle school student.”

Philosophy professor Roman T. Ciapalo commented afterwards, “Pino offered a down-to-earth and inspirational presentation, full of warmth and practical wisdom, focusing on the ways to unlock our potential through service to others. What a great Duhawk and role model for all of us!”

For more information, you can watch her Ted Talk called “Lead With Me- TedxCedarRapids”

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