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THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LEADERSHIP

Lisa Sullivan: “We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For”

I first heard the phrase “We are the ones we have been waiting for” from my mentor, friend, and former Public Allies board member Lisa Sullivan, who said it often. She got it from June Jordan's “Poem for South African Women.”1 Its origins are often attributed to a Hopi proverb: “It is time to speak your truth. Create your community. And do not look outside yourself for the leader. We are the ones we've been waiting for.” As I heard Barack Obama repeat this phrase on the campaign trail in 2008, I wondered if he had learned it from Lisa when they participated in Robert Putnam's two-year seminar on civic engagement, which led to Putnam's book Bowling Alone ...

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