Posts Tagged ‘alexandra gilliland’

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Meet The Woman Behind The Josephine Butler Parks Center

Written By Alexandra Gilliland

This April, EcoWomen and its founding chapter, the DC EcoWomen, will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary, and holding an amazing 10 Year Gala to commemorate this occasion! There can only be one place for the location: The Josephine Butler Parks Center.

The Josephine Butler Parks Center is the perfect location for the event. Not only, is it a gorgeous piece of 1927 Renaissance revival architecture, designed by George Oakley Totten Jr., but the center’s mission is to advance the revitalization of diverse community green spaces across the metropolitan area. This alone would make the location great for the event, but what really makes this location ideal is that it was named for one of Washington D.C.’s very first EcoWomen: Josephine Butler.

Here’s a little bit more about the woman behind the park…

Josephine Butler was born on January 24, 1920. The daughter of sharecroppers, and the granddaughter of slaves, Butler would grow into one of D.C.’s most respected community leaders. At a young age, Jo (as she was known) suffered from typhoid fever. To receive medical treatment, Butler moved from the sharecropper farm, where her father worked in Brandywine, Maryland to Washington, D.C. There she would flourish into one of D.C.’s greatest advocates of social initiatives.

Butler had the admirable habit of turning every instance of her life into a cause to champion. She began a career in laundry, and was able to organize her fellow workers into the first union for black women launder workers. This would be the start of her life-long commitment to labor unions and women’s rights.

Following the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling, she helped to lead the effort to peacefully integrate the white-attended John Quincy Adams Elementary School and the black-attended Thomas P. Morgan Elementary School in 1955. The neighborhood of Adams Morgan, a combination of the schools’ names, now stands as a reminder to honor racial and cultural differences.

Continuing her trend of turning life’s instances into causes to champion, after a bout with tuberculosis in the late 1950s, Butler became a volunteer for the D.C. Lung Association. There, she would become the association’s community health educator, where she would educate thousands of children on the hazards of air pollution, long before air pollution was became a prominent environmental or health concern.

Community was especially important to Jo Butler. She believed children needed a safe outdoor space to develop community. To help create this type of community, Butler campaigned for the revitalization of the Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park. This area had previously been known as one of the most violent parks in the Washington metropolitan area and as a breeding ground for vandalism and drug dealing. Butler and fellow community organizations worked tirelessly to transform this park. They organized nighttime patrols to combat crime, planted trees to beautify the property, and held community arts and educational programs in the park for residents. Gradually the park became the sort of community that Butler had envisioned. In 1994, Butler and the other members of the Friends of Meridian Hill (a community organization partnership) received the National Partnership Leadership Award from President Bill Clinton, to recognize the work that they had done to transform this once crime-ridden and dangerous park into a safe community park that is used and enjoyed by the local residents.

A holistic activist, Butler fought for a sustainable community way before it was trendy. She dedicated her life to economic, environmental and social justice, and believed in the self- determination of all. She was a true DC EcoWoman, a lover of the great outdoors, and a believer that change can happen with hard work and passion.

The festivities, including a keynote speaker, a silent auction, a DJ, unlimited beer and wine, and even a signature cocktail(!),  will take place on April 24th Josephine Butler Parks Center. Get your ticket today!

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How to Shine: Interviewing Skills To Help You Earn That Dream Job

Alexandra Gilliland

Last summer when my company was hiring a new junior employee, my manager came to me and asked whether I would be willing to conduct my own interview with each candidate. Not only was I extremely flattered, but also, excited for the opportunity. Being on the other side of the interview, I learned a lot about what can make an interview great.

So without further adieu, here are some helpful hints to help you nail your next interview.

Before the Interview

1.) The interviewer is already impressed with your résumé.

Chances are the employer has already seen your résumé, and has already deemed you qualified. Interviews are tedious. Résumés are about qualifications; interviews are about finding the right fit. So, demonstrate how you’ll be a good fit for the company. Are you a team player? Do you need minimal instruction? What can you bring to the company outside of your qualifications?

2.) Do your homework.

In the days leading up to the interview, Google everything you can about the company. Immerse yourself in the company’s website and social media. Scour the Internet, not only for articles about your potential employer, but also about the industry. Draft questions and be prepared to discuss the company’s current projects.

3.) Be ready to discuss anything on your résumé,  and I mean anything.

You never know what an interviewer will zero in on your resume, whether it be a specific project you worked on, your undergraduate education, a language you claim to be fluent in, or the fact that you love to knit. Your cover letter and your résumé may be the only two things the interviewer knows about you, so expect a lot of questions about them.

4.) Practice,  practice,  practice…and aloud.

Have a friend mock interview you. Rehearsing is the best way to succeed. The answers you have prepared in your head will always sound differently when spoken out loud.

5.) Scope out the location.

Nothing ruins the initial tone of an interview more than tardiness. So, make sure you know exactly when and where the interview is and how to get there.

6.) Be conservative in dress.

You never know what will offend someone; so, even if the company has a reputation for being laid-back, make sure to dress to impress. This means wrinkle-free, clean and most likely a suit.

During the interview

7.) Ask,  ask,  ask.

Not only does asking questions make you sound interested in the position, but if you do end up receiving the position, this could be where you spend 40 plus hours a week. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into, if you accept the position.

8.) R-E-S-P-E-C-T

It’s safer to be overly respectful, even if the interviewer seems very casual in manner. Never use their first name, unless they give you permission and the very last words out of your mouth should be, “Thank you.”

9.) But,  don’t be afraid to show your personality.

There was one woman I interviewed that came across as so dull, I couldn’t imagine working with her day in and day out, despite how qualified she was. I asked about her hobbies, she claimed to not have time. I tried to make a joke, and no response. Please do not be so caught up in your professionalism that you forget you’re a human being. Passion is attractive; staleness is not.

After the interview

10.) Always,  always,  follow up.

Even if your interview goes absolutely stellar and you are convinced the job is yours to lose, follow up! Nothing says, “I’m not interested,” more than dropping the line of communication. In this day in age, an email is absolutely appropriate, although never underestimate the power of a thoughtful handwritten note.

11.) Reflect.

Remember, the interview isn’t just about whether you are a good fit for the company, but also about whether the company is a good fit for you. I’ve had so many friends who jumped at the first job offer they received because they were worried another offer wouldn’t come along. Give yourself more credit than that. If the job looks like something you’d absolutely dread doing, send a thoughtful note stating that you appreciate the opportunity to interview, but unfortunately will be unable to take the job.

12.) Relax.

At this point, you have done all you can. You have sent in a killer resume, nailed your interview, and sent in a modest, but heartfelt thank you letter, now take a well-needed break, before you jump in the mix of things again.

Happy Interviewing!

Alexandra Gilliland is an environmental urbanite with a love for warm beverages and long city walks.