QVS Executive Director Hilary Burgin shares with us about a grant she’s been awarded.

Grant awarded for taking time on the “balcony”

I’m thrilled to say that I was awarded a Reflective Leadership Grant, enabling me to take time to step back and take a bird’s eye view of the work of QVS in the next year or so. Leadership Education (the organization through which I’m receiving this grant) aims to create lasting change in U.S. congregations by supporting Christian leaders and the institutions they serve. Leadership Education designs educational services, develops intellectual resources and facilitates networks of institutions that cultivate a coherent vision of Christian institutional leadership and form Christian leaders. Leadership Education is a non-degree-granting initiative of Duke Divinity School funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and based in Durham, N.C.

Have you taken time in the “balcony” in order to explore your vocation? I’d love to hear from you about how you prepared for and experienced that time.

‘The Reflective Leadership Grant at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity recognizes and supports the faithful and innovative work of lay and ordained Christian leaders who find themselves at a pivotal moment in their ministry,’ says Mycal Brickhouse, a director of program and grants at Leadership Education. ‘Using Harvard professor Ron Heifetz’s language, we want to help leaders experience “balcony time,” which allows them to move from the dance floor to the balcony to gain a broader picture of the work, organization, community and trends. We want to encourage grantees to continue to develop their leadership capacities in ways specific to their work and context. For some, this might look like attending interdisciplinary conferences, and for others it might look like observing similar work in different settings. We are excited about the interest in this grant program from both traditional and non-traditional Christian leaders and we look forward to learning alongside them and their communities.’

Receiving this grant will allow me to take time away from day-to-day activities and focus on the big picture: how is today’s changing world impacting Quaker Voluntary Service, and where are we called to grow and change in order to meet the needs of young adults today? The grant will go towards support for consultants to work with my colleagues while I’m less available to them, travel costs to be in person with others asking similar questions, registration costs for conferences and retreats, and more.

Have you taken time in the “balcony” in order to explore your vocation? I’d love to hear from you about how you prepared for and experienced that time.

Thank you!


More about Hilary (she/her)

Hilary (she/her) joined Quaker Voluntary Service in January 2015 as the Boston Coordinator. In that role, she supported three cohorts of Fellows through the QVS program. In November 2018, she stepped into the Executive Director role. Hilary sees QVS as an integral component of the Quaker movement the world needs now.

Connect with [email protected].

What sorts of programming and tools are Fellows offered during their year?

Every other Friday throughout the 11-month fellowship, QVS Fellows attend QVS Days instead of working at their site placements. 

QVS Days offer Fellows a chance to slow down and be in community. For the first part of the year, QVS staff take the lead in planning and facilitating QVS Days. They support Fellows in exploring their individual and communal journeys, as well as discussing work, community living, Quakerism, spiritual practices, and social justice issues. As the year progresses, Fellows take a more active role in planning and facilitating QVS Days.

Over the course of the year, Fellows learn tools like: clerking and Quaker decision-making processes, clearness committees, conflict transformation, signs of defensiveness, and tons more. Additionally, at the start of the year, Fellows attend a week-long orientation with all QVS Fellows from across the country, as well as a mid-year and a closing retreat with their city cohort.

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