Stepping into the orbit of Desiree Adaway is like being held in an energy field composed entirely of joy and possibility: she is so delightful just to be around, you forget that she actually does things. Or might make you start to do things. Good things, of course. Because Desiree has devoted her life to creating good via service, coaching outstanding individuals who feel called to it, and consulting with brave, forward-thinking non-profit organizations that embody service in action. Because, as she cops to herself, Desiree is that rare breed who not only welcomes change but chases it. She sees what's possible, then coaxes it out of people, bringing communities together, leaders forward, and people into their own light. Of all the people Pam Slim knows, Desiree is the one I most wanted to meet, and she did not disappoint. Figures that the two of those amazing ladies are best friends; fortunately, they're both good at sharing.
When did you decide to become a writer?
Never. I actually do not consider myself a writer. It is not something that comes easily to me… I have to really push myself. So when I do write a blog post or articles that resonate with people, it makes me want to try that much harder. The more I write the better at it I become.
Who was your favorite teacher?
My 5th grade teacher Ms. Mason. She loved teaching and I felt that. She also saw something in me that I did not see in myself. I was normally teacher’s pet in every class. What can I say, I am charming! This teacher would take me home with her for long weekends and just to hang out. How cool was that! My desk sat right next to hers… I felt like we co-taught the class that year.
What do you love to write about?
Social justice issues. I write about the human condition as it pertains to the transformative experience of creating community and being of service. I am fascinated with how we choose to build community in the world.
What has writing taught you?
That you have to work hard. A lot of things have come really easy for me . I try new things and grasp them fairly easily. Writing is one of the things that have not come easy to me. Because I struggle with writing I actually cherish it. It’s a gift and is one of my greatest teachers.
How has writing made you stronger?
When I write something and people respond—when it reflects someone else’s human experience I feel proud. I feel strong and I feel know that I can accomplish anything. When people share their struggle and need for connection I have no choice but to honor it and hold it in a sacred place. This is what strengthens me to continue to fight the good fight .
If you could go back in time and tell 10-year-old you anything, what would it be?
There is a greatness in you. You are not this environment, this neighborhood, this school or this house. You are not your parents or your siblings. You are greater than THAT. You are greater than the sum of your parts and your life is yours to own as you see fit.
What are your five favorite books, blogs or things to read?
- To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
- Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
- Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
- Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, by Audre Lorde
- Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, by Bell Hooks
Desiree is a consultant, strategist, coach, speaker, storyteller and explorer. She uses her superpowers-her voice, sense of adventure and belief in the transformative power of community-to help organizations design programs that create unrestricted revenue, volunteers and advocates. You can find out more about her at www.desireeadaway.com, or follow her on Twitter at @desireeadaway