Final Thoughts from PK
Thank You, PK!
For 20 years, Pastor Kelly Chatman (PK) has been at the helm of work at RCFL, generously volunteering as our Executive Director. With his fierce passion for racial justice and compassionate soul, PK has led RCFL with immense grace and creativity. As he retires on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, we are going to miss him so much and we are grateful for how he has set RCFL up for success in the many years to come.
PK sat down with Becca Sandness, RCFL's Administrative Assistant, and discussed his experience leading RCFL for the past 20 years.
Becca: How would you describe your leadership style and how does that work for you?
PK: My leadership style is built on vision as opposed to management. Leadership is driven by values and mission. My desire is to take us beyond what is established to what I hope are new possibilities -- things like racial equity and gender equity. Rules tend to support the status quo and I don't want to live or work for the status quo.
As an African American who lives predominantly in White spaces, I need more than just fitting in to their established ways or cultures. I need to be able to bring myself fully into that and more importantly, I need to create spaces for others who follow me. That way they will be able to fit into that space without necessarily struggling with what I struggled with to have a voice. I want more for not just me, but for our world. I want more for other people.
Becca: What is your favorite aspect of working at RCFL?
PK: I love so many things about Redeemer. The community, the space to do things I didn’t think I could, and working with young leaders whose impact will stretch into the community.
A wonderful honor for me is working with young leaders. I think they are really gifted and well-equipped for the world of work AND able to wrestle with values to incorporate into the broader community.
Becca: What memorable stories would you say epitomize your time at RCFL?
PK: The Glenwood House is a memorable milestone from my time at RCFL. It was not planned and not popular. I had to take my own initiative and break the rules. By the time I’d gone through the process of asking for permission, the house would have been resold. I saw it as an embodiment of our mission and couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
Also, I remember when the kids would come in for youth programs and my office would be littered with coats. It was as if Redeemer was their home and the act of throwing their coats down, like one would at home, shows they are so comfortable and safe in that space. They were simply being kids.
Becca: What will you miss about working at RCFL?
PK: I will miss most of all the people, staff, the challenge of making things happen, problem solving, believing that anything is possible, and doing that with a community of people that are invested and committed to making a difference.
There's so much about what's wrong in the world and about the challenges that we live in everyday, but the opportunity to actually do something about it with really gifted, talented and committed people that invest themselves in making it happen is special.
From the very beginning, even before I stepped foot at RCFL, it seemed in the news, media and broader White community that the stigma and dominant message of North Minneapolis is that it's lesser than a community. This is a lie, but it’s a lie that’s perpetuated out of racism and bad messaging. I didn’t believe that and having an opportunity to demystify that and celebrate North Minneapolis through Redeemer has been a blessing.
Moving from the negativity and stigma to a new narrative that is positive and celebrative is something I’ll miss doing with the anchors of housing, youth, and employment to be a beacon of hope in the neighborhood.
Becca: Thank you so much PK for all of your time and work put into RCFL. You leave big shoes to fill!