Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Emerging Sage Leadership: Interview of Galen Ellis

Emerging Sage Leadership: Interview of Galen Ellis

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4. Is there a history of community service in your family background? If so, briefly describe it.

Not really, I’m the only one. Everyone else is either in the private sector or independent. In terms of my parents and upbringing, there was always a lot of support for my inclinations, which started very young. If I wanted to do something in the community, my mom would help organize and support it. We did puppet shows about ecology, where she would help me make the puppets and the stage, and I got all the neighborhood kids to come. I felt we had to tell people about the environment. The first community organization I developed was when I was ten. It was called TWIRP: The World is Really Polluted. We educated through puppet shows, made posters, and put them up around the neighborhood.

5. What do you consider to be the major strengths and capabilities that have made you an effective civic community leader? Are they rooted in action, in your personal style, in your organizational, political, and personal relationships, or in something else?

Passion is my greatest strength. I was always pretty introverted, so it was almost counter to my personality to be involved in any kind of leadership. But I couldn’t help myself because I felt so strongly about things. And from a very young age, I’ve been an optimist and believed in change: that if we collectively put our minds to something, we could make it happen. I always felt that for myself, but when I saw what a group of people could do together, I became passionate about the process.

I love being behind the scenes, stimulating people to do things. I’m more of a facilitator than a charismatic leader. I see myself more as someone who connects with people through relationships. I can connect with groups pretty intimately, but don’t see myself as the one getting up with the microphone.

6. There are five key roles that civic leaders often play in their community:

  • Mentor: teaching and engaging others  
  • Mediator: helping to resolve conflict  
  • Monitor: serving as a community watchdog  
  • Mobilizer: working to bring about change  
  • Motivator: urging people to pursue worthy goals

As you think about your own civic involvement in our community, which of these roles have you played and which do you consider to be your strongest?

My strongest roles are mentor and mobilize, followed by motivator.

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