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Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead

Founding director, Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice; radio host, WEAA
Loyola University Maryland; WEAA 88.9 FM

Why is community service critical to your career and your personal leadership journey?

Every day, at the end of my radio show, I always tell my listeners that it was an honor and privilege to serve them in this way. At the heart of what I do is my desire to do all I can to uplift, motivate, amplify, and stand with my community. When I was in high school, my English teacher encouraged me to work hard to benefit our community. She reminded me often of the words of Shirley Chisholm, “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” I take this very seriously and as the founding director of the Karson Institute and the host of Today With Dr. Kaye, I have an opportunity to engage with and serve the city on multiple levels. It is the most critical part of what I do, and it is my commitment to this work that guides my personal leadership journey.

Self-care connects everything in life: career, interactions and one’s personal life. Is this something you are doing well or is this a goal? What are your secrets if you are succeeding and what are you goals if this is a focus area where you want to learn from others?

As an empty nester, I can finally practice radical self-care, where I am prioritizing my needs. I am getting uninterrupted rest, and I have intentional quiet moments when I can think and reflect throughout the day. Before my sons went to college, I built my life around them, and it was such a joy to watch them grow while I carved out spaces for them to be free, happy and whole. Now that they have grown, it is now my time to water myself, fully embrace myself, and focus on taking care of myself while I take care of and support them and my husband. Angela Davis said we practice radical self-care by “bringing our entire selves into the movement,” and I would add into the moment. So, this is where I am and who I am: working hard to bring all of me to every movement and moment with joy.