As Circles USA continues to expand, the national office is grateful to add more infrastructure and reach to our system of chapter support. To that end, regional coaches are beginning to support the West, the Midwest, the South, and the Mid-Atlantic Region. Working across geographic, economic, and political boundaries, each regional coach hosts monthly regional community of practice calls for mutual support and collaboration, coaches their regional chapters on a regular basis, and advises new chapters in their early design phase before launch. They also support regional collaborations to expand local Big View efforts so as to have a greater impact on systemic change and inform the national office of regional trends and needs.
This four-part blog series introduces you to Circles USA’s Regional Coaches: who they are, where they come from, and how their leadership helps realize CUSA’s vision of communities in which everyone has enough money, meaning, and friends to thrive.
MY NAME IS…
Julie Liske. I’m thrilled to begin serving on July 1st as the CUSA Midwest Regional Coach for chapters in MI, WI, IN, MO, KS, and OH. I know that connecting with the Midwest Circles Region will enrich my life and the lives of those we serve, and I hope and trust that what I bring will be helpful, hopeful, and valuable.
MY IMPORTANT LIFE EXPERIENCES, JOURNEYS, CHALLENGES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS INCLUDE…
I’m a semi-retired United Methodist minister with a passion for social justice, inclusion, and love in action. I’ve served congregations, hospitals, retirement communities, and nonprofits throughout southwest Michigan. I was introduced to Circles USA in 2014 and, with the support and backing of a denominational body, helped launch the Grand Rapids Chapter in 2015, where I gratefully served until my retirement in 2021.
Those early days for me as the Chapter’s founding director and only full-time staff member were early days for Circles USA as well. Together we grew and developed better practices, more effective systems, and stronger, better-equipped staffs. The journey of creating a solid framework for the Circles model was exciting and exhausting, satisfying and frustrating, full of improvement and falling behind, and more than a few days of hanging on by a thread.
But what was (then and now) steadfast and unwavering is the goodness of this thing we have the privilege of doing: building community to end poverty. I love that snappy tagline because it is absolutely true and accurate. Even in 25 years of leading spiritual communities, I’ve never experienced so regularly and authentically what Dr. King called “beloved community” as we experience during any ordinary Circles gathering.
We build relationships of mutuality and trust across every boundary human beings can think up to divide ourselves from one other: economics, race, gender, age, sexual orientation/identity, religion and spirituality (and lack thereof), the list goes on. And while I’m ever so thankful for the journey of structural growth that helps us deliver exceptional processes and programming, I am most grateful for – and never cease to be astounded by – the utter blessing of these relationships that bring people together.
SOMETHING SPECIAL YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT OUR REGION IS…
The Midwest Region and I have yet to begin our new relationship: our community of practice, coaching calls, and mutual learning and support. But month by month, we will share our proudest accomplishments, best ideas, and most pressing challenges. And, together, we’ll care for one another on those days when we’re hanging on by a thread.
I so look forward to meeting and working with you all!