As we embark on Black History Month, we shine the spotlight on the extraordinary Black women who have been a positive force for change in Britain. The theme for the month is fitting, ‘Saluting our Sistas’, which celebrates the individuals who have shaped history and communities in the past and today.
This week, I proudly salute Ruth Ibegbuna, a remarkable woman whose journey from teaching in state schools to founding multiple impactful organisations has left an incredible mark on young people. It’s individuals like her who are finding future leaders and making the difference that not everybody sees.
From what I’ve witnessed, the organisations that succeed in inclusion have an executive who is passionate and determined about it; Ruth demonstrates that in abundance. She’s also a visionary leader who has a very clear purpose: help those at the lowest ranks succeed.
Her journey is a true testament to leadership. It began with a successful teaching career in Bradford and Manchester, then followed by a difficult and disruptive diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, but despite that major setback, she went on to build a number of organisations to help working-class young people ascend to leadership positions. She’s also partnered with charities to help young survivors of sexual assault.
Her unwavering dedication to inclusion led her to create the Roots Programme, after the Brexit vote, to bring diverse communities together to promote empathy, building bridges, and working together. When many said it wasn’t possible, Ruth just went on and did it.
Ruth’s accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. She has several fellowships and was rightfully recognized in The Sunday Times’ list of the 500 most influential people in the UK. Virgin also hailed her as one of the top six female changemakers worldwide.
Her book ‘On Youth’ serves as a testament to inclusion with the inspiring stories of Manchester’s young people. Indeed, no one is too young to lead.
Setting an example in leadership is never easy, especially when it comes to inclusion – Ruth has seen this as a beautiful challenge and has been a role model for many.
Her latest venture, as CEO of the newly founded Rekindle School, supports young people from difficult backgrounds in Manchester rekindle their love of education, developing a keener and more interested young population. So many students confront challenges every day from biases to hunger, Ruth’s mission is to embrace and help them, enabling them to thrive in their bright futures.
When speaking with Ruth it becomes clear that the power of her optimism has overcome the negativity of the cynics.
When we expand the circle of opportunity, there are no losers.
Ruth’s leadership reminds us all to remain committed to positive change and to include everyone in our ventures.
Thought for the Week:
Leadership is a privilege and a choice, not an appointment.
Top Tips for Becoming an A Player:
- Influence is so much more powerful than authority.
- Enable your strengths to take you forward.
- Nothing can be best done alone anymore.
- Every new relationship educates us.
- Our greatest growth comes in response to our greatest challenge.