Meet the Board: Molly Sullivan

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Six years ago, I was feeling lost at the end of graduate school and was engaged in a search to continue work that was grounded in community and effected positive change for people, especially vulnerable individuals. I first had a taste of this work at a transportation equity advocacy organization called Transportation Alternatives in New York City. They were a tiny but mighty organization that did everything from unbelievable community organizing to advocacy at City Hall to forming community among cyclists, transit riders, and pedestrians, and also just knew how to have fun amidst hard work. During my first year of graduate school at the Hubert H. Humphrey School, I was on a quest to engage in work that was just as dynamic, meaningful, and impactful….and I often didn’t find it.

However, during my second year of graduate school, I was lucky to spend some time as an intern at the Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute (MESI). We were engaged in an evaluation of Hennepin County’s foster care services and it was heartbreaking, inspiring, and deeply meaningful work. Every day I was blown away by the content of the interviews, by what I learned about systems and how those systems affected human beings and the course of their lives. It was an experience I could never have while sitting in a classroom. I found that this work was a driving force in my life because, quite simply, I cared about it more than any other work. My colleague in this work, Nora Murphy, invited me and a few other people over to her house a few months after this work ended and presented an opportunity to brainstorm how we might work together to build an organization where we could do this real work to change actual systems and I surprised myself by leaping in.

I used to think of myself as a risk adverse person but my experiences building and growing TerraLuna has changed how I think about my own capacities, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s provided me with a home to examine just what it is I want to do with my one life, and given me an avenue to get to work doing it! Over the past five years, I have served on the board because it was not only necessary to have founding members serve on the board of this small but incredible co-op, but also because it is a way that I could, and can, provide capacity as we grow and change. Serving on the board involves long meetings, clunky decision-making processes, and many hours of labor, but it also challenges me to build something new, to not accept the bureaucracies of other companies, and to be better at all that I do so that I can live into the core value of TerraLuna Collaborative. I don’t see many other places in society to live and work like this, and being a part of what makes it possible (despite the long meetings!) is an honor.

Emily Borka