FIRST & 42 continues to celebrate the region’s up-and-coming stars from the 2020 class of Leadership Kalamazoo with the Leader Spotlight. Jump in and learn about these leaders’ “firsts” in life as well as their answers to a few deeper questions about their leadership and vision for our community. Reverend (Rev.) Doreen Gardner is in the spotlight today to share insights about her views on change, her favorite historical leader, her vision for our community, and more. Doreen is the communication coordinator at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a position she has been in for nearly 15 years.
Doreen has excelled throughout the years emboldened by her leadership superpower of excellent people and communication skills. “One thing I have learned is if people feel valued, they will always give you their best, thus allowing you to build a superpower team that will gladly deliver with excellence,” said Doreen. On change and growth, Doreen said “I personally love and embrace change. Lack of change represents lack of movement and growth.” Throughout the past months during the pandemic, Doreen has learned that she must do things differently in order to create and lead change. Keep reading for more on Rev. Doreen Gardner:
First Things First
WHAT IS YOUR FIRST CHOICE FOR GOING OUT TO EAT LOCALLY?
I love Food Dance.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EVER OFFICIAL LEADERSHIP POSITION?
I was a business office supervisor at Michigan Bell, which is now known as AT&T.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST CONCERT YOU EVER ATTENDED?
Wow, I do not remember. But I do remember, in 1983, Diana Ross was here, and we had front row seats. She came out of the audience and sat on my husband’s lap and sang to him. He smiled all night long!
The Deep Dive
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN YOUR CURRENT POSITION? WHAT ARE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY RESPONSIBILITIES?
I have been in my current position for nearly 15 years. My pastor and boss is very progressive and keeps our team creating and on the cutting edge of communication and technology. We are always looking for new effective methods to communicate. The message is the same; the methodology is not.
WHAT IS YOUR LEADERSHIP SUPERPOWER?
I am naturally creative, but I believe my people skills are my greatest asset. Using effective communication, listening to, and hearing people’s strengths allow me to help them maximize their potential. I believe that everyone has a unique purpose to fulfill in their current assignment. One thing I have learned is, if people feel valued, they will always give you their best, thus allowing you to build a superpower team that will gladly deliver with excellence.
HOW HAS YOUR LEADERSHIP GROWN THE MOST IN THE PAST YEAR?
With COVID-19, I have learned when the cheese moves you must move. Life as we knew it is changing rapidly and to survive, we must do things differently. What worked before mid-March will not work now. So, we can sniff and scurry to find the new cheese, or we can hem and haw and miss our opportunity to create and lead change. I personally love and embrace change. Lack of change represents lack of movement and growth.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE HISTORICAL LEADER? WHY?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a visionary, and his message of love and unity is still real and relevant today. The vision Dr. King saw for us was so powerful even in his death it still yet lives.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR OUR COMMUNITY IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
I love Kalamazoo; I was born and raised here. My vision aligns with my church’s vision (Mt. Zion Baptist Church) of “A Vibrant Community Living by Faith.” If you examine each of those words, you will begin to get a visual of something wonderful: Vibrant. Community. Living by faith. In short, my picture is a unified people living fulfilled lives of hope and divine purpose with needs supplied. Paint your picture!