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#WCW: Erina Colombo

Erina Colombo is an Event Vice-Chair with City Year Boston and our first #WomxnCrushWednesday interviewee! Each week leading up to our 2019 Women’s Leadership Breakfast, we will be featuring one of the incredible womxn who help make the event a reality.

Erina proudly serves as Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley‘s Civic Engagement Manager. In this role, she works to make government and policy-making more accessible to all residents of the Massachusetts 7th congressional district. Prior to this role, Erina served as Rep. Pressley’s deputy finance and political director. She worked with City Year Boston staff and is an alum of the City Year New York corps.

Dequila Jones, Individual Giving Manager for City Year Boston, caught up with Erina for some quality #WCW inspiration!

Dequila Jones: You’re a busy woman! Why do you make time to support an organization like City Year?

Erina Colombo: City Year helped me build a strong foundation for the rest of my life. I owe this organization so much for helping me to activate my leadership and community building skills, for fostering my sense of idealism, and most importantly, for bringing meaningful relationships into my life. I prioritize making time to support City Year because so many people in the organization prioritized making time to support me – and I know that every one of our AmeriCorps members is making the time to support students across Boston every single day.

What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?

EC: I grew up playing softball, and with every team I was part of, I was always known as a utility player or someone who could play every position. Now, this didn’t mean that I was GOOD at every position, but I was willing to learn enough to be decent. Throughout my career, I’ve come to find that this willingness to learn is an invaluable leadership skill. In each role I’ve held, I have been pushed to do things I’ve never done before  I’ve had to adapt to changing environments and rise to expectations – and the only reason that I’ve been able to do any of it is because I was willing to try and to fail, and to learn. Over and over and over again. I am so grateful for the people that have granted me the space and the grace to grow into myself – who allowed me to room to fail and who encouraged me to try again.

DJ: What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women after you?

EC:I think that one of the coolest things about the generations after mine is that they are growing up with such profound access to information, to stories, and to one another. The young people that I know are so deeply aware of the inequities of this world, and they take action to actively build a more equitable and inclusive future. In some ways, this will liberate them, but I suppose my fear is that in this process, they will miss out on the many careless joys of just being kids.

I think so much of what is happening in our society right now, the scandals and the injustices, what they are doing is eroding trust, both in institutions and in people. I think that the generations that come after us will have to overcome the traumas of growing up in such an unstable time and they will face the challenges of having to rebuild that eroded trust across multiple generations.

DJ: Who are the women that inspire you on the daily?

EC: Ooooo! There are just so many! I’ve had the great fortune of being in the company of so many bold and brilliant women – women who inspire me and keep me going every day. As hard as it is – I’ll elaborate on just two of the leading ladies in my life: My mom and my Congresswoman.

These two women are the most industrious and empathetic women I know. My mother is an immigrant from Japan who has dedicated her life to giving me and my brothers every chance to succeed in this country. For most of my life, she has worked multiple jobs in the service and healthcare industries while remaining our primary caregiver and it always struck me how she showed up in this world with such love and pride. She reminds me every day to work hard, to show kindness and to experience life with a little bit of levity.

I am beyond grateful every day to call Representative Pressley both my Congresswoman and my boss. When I met Rep. Pressley, she was just beginning her Congressional campaign and I would see her from sunrise to sunset (and beyond) meeting people on front porches and church basements, listening to them and crafting a vision with them. And now I get to humbly work alongside her (and our A-Team!) every day, uplifting those stories in Washington D.C. and helping to make those visions of equity and justice a reality. She helps me to remember to ask the hard questions, to remain uncomfortable, and to be bold.

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