Empowering Voices for Social Impact and Connecting Communities with Ramona Houston

Everyone has the capacity to make a difference on the social challenges that face us every day. Helping financially is one way, yet there are so many other ways we can have social impact.  Building relationships in our communities where all voices are heard and considered in a foundation building block to create a collective effort which can bring forth massive change.

And sometimes, as leaders, we try out “great” solutions to people’s problems, yet are surprised they don’t work. Maybe this is because we fail to listen first to the very people who are impacted and who may already have the answers to the issues at hand. 

In this episode, you will find out more about how giving people voice empowers significant transformational change in our communities, as a force for good. 

Ramona Houston, Ph.D., PMP, has a multifaceted career as a scholar, educator, and community engagement strategist. Sought for her expertise, Ramona is widely recognized as a thought leader in African American/Latino relations. An American historian and emerging public intellectual, Ramona specializes in 20th-century American history, civil rights, and race relations, specifically its African American and Mexican American dimensions. Through her blog, Ramona explores and critically analyzes current affairs from a historical and bicultural perspective, informing readers how contemporary issues and events relate to and or affect the African American and Latino American communities. 

She also devotes much of her blog to highlighting, celebrating, and promoting these two communities’ history, people, culture, organizations, and events. Ramona shares her knowledge in all types of settings. She presents lectures and workshops for institutions and organizations, appears as an expert panelist and guest analyst for various programs and media outlets, and contributes print and online media columns. Through her publications and presentations, Ramona seeks to promote the importance of diverse groups working together in order to increase their capacity and effectiveness in producing positive social change.

In this episode, Ramona shares how the only way to bring about a significant social impact is to listen. As she said, if we want an enormous societal impact, we need not only bring solutions we perceive to be effective,  but rather talk and listen to the very people directly affected who already know best the answer to their problems. Besides, financial reward is not the only means to consider resources; creating relationships and influence can also make all the difference.

“Everybody can contribute and do good. No matter who you are, where you live, or area of expertise. All of us have the capacity, and I would also argue the responsibility to make an impact.” – Ramona Houston

Listen IN Notes:

01:11 – Ramona on realizing the power of listening: It started when he was dating her now husband, how he taught her the power of resolving conflicts and not letting them fester

06:47 – Pause and respond: “Everybody has their timing in communication, and part of listening is being able to pause.”

09:15 – What it means to have a social impact: Having social responsibility while making money.

11:47 – Showcasing social impact: “One way to express this is by instituting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility strategies in your business.”

15:19 – How to understand the needs of people: “You understand the needs by listening to people who have the solutions.”

18:53 – Breaking down and building up systemic structures: Who is often called in to do the “job” and who needs to step in to make real change.

21:29 – Voice and Empowerment: “There are many ways to look at resources. If you learn to recognize and value the various ways that people can impact your effort, you will be able to engage so many more resources and make such a greater impact.” 

26:07 – Looking beyond money: How some people have something else to contribute beyond just financial influence.

28:18 – Ramona celebrates her 100th podcast episode, and she reflects on her biggest surprise she had discovered.

33:24 – Empowerment across all aspects is at the root of her podcast message

35:12 – Ramona shares an empowering message

35:58 – Sharing a funny anecdote about her work and when she met Raquel.

Key Takeaways:

“With listening…You don’t always have to respond immediately; you can pause and then respond.” – Ramona Houston

Social impact is working with clients who believe in and embrace social responsibility, which is the business practice of doing good.” – Ramona Houston

I believe that you can make money and make an impact.” – Ramona Houston

It has to be not just the people who are affected by the structures to make the change, but the people who are actually holding up the structures to make the change.” – Ramona Houston

I would say that leadership, in terms of making a social impact, that no matter what area that you want to address, whether it’s economic, educational, political, social change, that you need to listen to the people who are actually suffering from the issues that you’re trying to address. Because many times they have the solutions that you’re looking for.” – Ramona Houston


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