A Conversation about Inspiration, Career, and Change
Chastity Lord, Former Chief Operating Officer | Color Of Change

Contributor: Michon Lartigue

P.S. 314 congratulates change maker Chastity Lord on her new role as president and CEO of the Jeremiah Program, which helps single mothers and their families living in poverty to achieve prosperity. Prior to Ms. Lord’s transition, we had the chance to speak with her about inspiration and its role in motivating her personally and professionally. P.S. 314 admires Chastity Lord for her achievements, and we thank her for sharing her insightful perspective on social change and leadership.

I often like to honor those who have come before; somebody who is a deep inspiration for me is Harriet Tubman. Anytime I’m in a space where something feels impossible, or overwhelming, I go to her as one of my greatest proof points.
She wasn’t seen as a human being, she was seen as nonrelevant, she was property. Yet, she tapped into something within herself and decided to bet on herself, and she was willing to enlist others in a vision. We know, and I know, how hard it is to hold something that is unique — to hold something that’s not popular — and to be brave enough to love her people enough to enlist them in that vision. So to bet on herself, and bring others along with her, she is definitely someone I tap into often.
Who are the people who have served as inspiration on your career path?

Chastity Lord: I often like to honor those who have come before; somebody who is a deep inspiration for me is Harriet Tubman. Anytime I’m in a space where something feels impossible, or overwhelming, I go to her as one of my greatest proof points.

She wasn’t seen as a human being, she was seen as non relevant, she was property. Yet, she tapped into something within herself and decided to bet on herself, and she was willing to enlist others in a vision. We know, and I know, how hard it is to hold something that is unique—to hold something that’s not popular — and to be brave enough to love her people enough to enlist them in that vision. So to bet on herself, and bring others along with her, she is definitely someone I tap into often.

What are the challenges that affect leaders or change makers who try to put something good or positive in the world?

CL: It depends on what they are working in service to, but I would say leading and championing in what I care most about, which is equity and justice, understanding that ‘till we all win, no one wins.

One of the more challenging things about that reality is that we don’t have frameworks and structures and theories that were created with us in mind. So oftentimes we are having to find, to lean to the left, lean over, stand on one foot, to see or hear ourselves within what is deemed as the most successful or pedagogical frameworks regarding leadership and organizational structures. One of the tensions is what does it look like, feel like, sound like when you are able to easily value the identity, history, the struggle, the community, the magic, of a people and a culture?

What is the best advice you’ve received regarding a career in making change or working for change in the world? What would you pass on to a young person just starting out?

CL: Get comfortable, and build the muscle of being a deeply reflective human being. Constantly ask yourself, “what was good, what could be better, what influenced it to be good, or not as good?” Be one of your top three best critics or best admirers.