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S’More Synergy-Learning, Leadership, & Liberation

Today, we hear from Maleika Brown, a brilliant, brave, badass human and bringer of justice.

Over the last few weeks, we've heard from leaders in our series unpacking L3 Catalyst Group's Ls: Learn, Lead, & Liberate.

At L3 Catalyst Group, we believe that liberation is the goal. We work for liberation in our beloved community because we are interconnected. Together, we build bridges to disrupt oppression at personal, interpersonal, organizational, and systemic levels. We work to envision and make real a liberatory future of equitable outcomes not for profit.

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Heartfelt thanks to you, Maleika, for sharing your wise reflections with us.

Fellow leaders and learners, I wish you courage, rest, and beloved community along the journey.

Deanna Signature

Maleika Headshot2Better Together

Some things just go together.  Peanut Butter and Jelly;  Graham Crackers, Marshmallows, & Chocolate;  Quarterback, Receiver and the Pig Skin; Salt and Peppa (yep, the ’80s rap trio). There is just something about the savory that undergirds the sweet, the crunchy cool that stabilizes the warm ooey-gooey smooth, the beauty of the connection between the QB, receiver, and ball that whips the crowd into a wild frenzy, the beats and mixing behind the lyrics!  They complement each other.  The synergy among them can’t be denied, though we can all agree they can and do exist alone.  

The relationship between Learning, Leadership, and Liberation is easily poured into this same mold.  

At some point in life, we are each a Leader. 

We often profess to be lifelong Learners, and to varying degrees, we are more OR less Liberated in our everyday lives.  Impressive individually, but experiencing them together is synergistic! But wait… I was asked specifically about liberation. I’ll be back...(in my Terminator voice).

Liberation is a multifaceted concept that extends beyond a mere state of freedom. It encompasses taking action to achieve freedom and the outcome resulting from effective leadership and continuous learning. In this blog post, we will explore the nuanced differences between liberation as action and liberation as the result of leadership and learning. Finally, we will return to the ooey-gooey, savory-sweet frenzy that is the amalgamation of leadership, learning, and liberation.

Liberation as Action

As an action, liberation involves actively and purposefully breaking free from restrictions, whether they are societal, political, or personal. It represents a bold move towards independence and empowerment. 

When involved in this process, we act courageously, resiliently, and as dedicated agents of change, challenging the existing norms and dismantling oppressive structures. 

The beauty… transformative impact!  If you’re reading this blog, I am certain you can relate to at least one of these scenarios:

A grassroots movement advocating for equal rights and social justice. Fueled by a passion for change, activists actively engage in protests, community outreach programs, and awareness campaigns. Liberation as action, in this context, involves challenging discriminatory policies, dismantling systemic barriers, and fostering inclusivity. Sounding familiar???

A time when you or someone you know broke free from personal limitations or overcame adversity. For instance, a person who has faced discrimination based on their identity takes affirmative action by speaking out, seeking support networks, and actively pursuing opportunities to challenge stereotypes and bias.

122023_Image 3Spaces where access to quality and equitable education is limited. Liberation as action involves internal and external constituents working to bridge educational gaps. This could include setting up educational programs, advocating for policy changes, and providing resources to empower others with knowledge and skills.

However, pursuing liberation can be a challenge-filled journey along which we must confront powerful structures, navigate complex and ever-changing systems, and overcome adversity.  This journey demands perseverance, strategic thinking, and an unwavering belief in the possibility of a liberated future.

Liberation As A Result of Leadership and Learning

Conversely, achieving liberation through leadership and learning centers on the outcomes of persistent efforts to bring about change. Here, the significance of a visionary leader who can inspire and guide organizations and communities is highlighted.  Also underscored is the continual learning process required to uphold and enhance the liberated state.

In the context of liberation, leadership is embodied by individuals capable of articulating a vision for a better future and rallying others to work towards that vision. Think of the protagonist in your favorite flick, successful and well-respected organizational leaders, and that football coach who had my entire little family wanting to run through a wall with him.   Leaders like these effectively grasp the intricacies of power and privilege, leveraging their influence to dismantle oppressive systems. 

They foster a shared purpose and empower others to contribute to collective liberation.

Learning plays a pivotal role in maintaining liberation. It involves continuously refining their approach through an ongoing education journey, critical self-reflection, and adaptation to evolving challenges. A liberated individual, group, team, or organization must possess the knowledge and skills to sustain and improve its freedom. Being intentional about acknowledging and learning lessons from history, seeking and embracing diverse perspectives, engaging in community-based learning, and endeavoring to discern and address systemic issues are integral to this continuous learning process. 

122023_Image 2While liberation as action and liberation as a result of leadership and learning are distinct concepts, a dichotomous relationship exists between the two. They are not mutually exclusive; instead, they complement each other as essential parts of a comprehensive approach to transformation. 

Liberation as action sets the stage for change, creating the momentum to challenge oppressive thoughts and structures. It acts as the catalyst. Conversely, liberation through leadership and learning provides the framework for sustainable change, ensuring that the liberated state endures and adapts over time.

The Ooey-Gooey, Savory-Sweetness

In conclusion, the dynamic interplay of Learning, Leadership, and Liberation catalyzes transformative change. Liberation as action sets the stage for challenging oppressive structures, while liberation through leadership and continuous learning provides the framework for enduring, sustainable change. The synergy of these elements birth greatness, growth, and movements. As you reflect on the savory-sweet dance of these interconnected forces, I invite you to embrace the call to action: be lifelong learners, visionary leaders, and agents of liberation, contributing to a future characterized by enduring freedom and continuous improvement.

Maleika Signature


What Im Reading-1 What Maleika is reading:

  • The Organizational Ombudsman: Origins, Roles, and Operations-A Legal Guide by Charles Howard
  • The Ombudsman Handbook: Developing and Managing an Effective Problem-Solving Program by James T Ziegenfuss Junior and Patricia O'Rourke
  • The Mediator's Toolkit by Gerry O'Sullivan
  • Where Do We Go From Here Chaos or Community? by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Maleika Brown (she/her)
Post by Maleika Brown (she/her)
December 20, 2023
Maleika Joubert Brown, Ed.S, is a dedicated and passionate educator with a remarkable 27-year career within the Grand Rapids Public Schools. Her journey in education has been multifaceted, marked by various roles, including Teacher, Instructional Coach, Mathematics Curriculum Supervisor, Director of Professional Learning, and Director of Equity and Inclusion.
In her present capacity as the Ombudsperson for GRPS, Maleika acts as a crucial guide and proactive alert system, dedicating herself to improving the experiences of those connected with the Grand Rapids Public Schools. She is honored to have been chosen as an inaugural member of the Steelcase Foundation Brilliant Leaders Fellowship, a testament to her exceptional leadership and commitment to educational excellence.
Maleika's impact goes beyond her day-to-day responsibilities; she played a pivotal role in shaping the District's Vision for Excellence Through Equity and contributed significantly to developing the 2022-2025 GRPS Strategic Plan. Her educational journey includes earning a Bachelor of Science in Education from Louisiana State University, a Master of Arts in Education from Marygrove College, and an Educational Specialist degree from Grand Valley State University.
Beyond her professional achievements, Maleika is an active member of the Theta Chi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has also lent her expertise to the Advisory Board for Grand Valley State University's Regional Math and Science Center. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors for Save Haven Ministries, West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology, and The Literacy Center of West Michigan. Additionally, she holds an appointed position on the City of Grand Rapids Civil Service Board.
Despite her many roles and responsibilities, Maleika remains grounded in her faith and family values. As a Christ follower, wife, and mother, she brings a holistic perspective to her work, embodying the principles of a lifelong educator, learner, and advocate. Maleika is not just shaping the future of education; she is actively contributing to the betterment of her community, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those she serves.