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Graylyn Swilley-Woods, Executive Director Of Overtown Children And Youth Coalition (OCYC)

Ms. Graylyn Swilley-Woods is the Executive Director of the Overtown Children and Youth Coalitions. She is a Senior Consultant for Multicultural Tourism Initiatives and recent past Associate Vice President of Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau Multicultural Tourism Department, Business and Education Division. Mrs. Woods spent more than a decade promoting the development and advancement of Multicultural Tourism in Greater Miami and Beaches.

Having expended more than 25 years in higher education and community enterprising, Graylyn has received local, state and national recognition for development of programs involved with community development, heritage tourism, hospitality, student programming, and economic development. Her extensive training and background in community development has guided her work in advancing innovative community initiatives as a sustainable economic goal. She is a thought leader who thinks broadly about community change and its impact on local and national climates. In her current work she convenes a host of dialogues on social change, equity and race with diverse audiences. She is a compelling fundraiser who works with funders to demonstrate the value and impact external funding has on assisting community change.

Recently, Ms. Swilley-Woods received her PhD from Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Her dissertation research focused on heritage community tourism sustainability in urban communities in Miami, Florida. Ms. Swilley-Woods is a Scholar Activist and is committed to social justice locally and globally. In addition, Graylyn received a Master of Arts degree from Ohio State University in Africana Studies, a Master of Arts in Leadership and Social Change at Antioch University and completed course work toward a Master of Science Degree in Rural Sociology at Ohio State University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh in the College of Liberal Arts. Her experience in education and community tourism has brought fresh ideas to the greater Miami region. Graylyn is married and is the mother of two sons.

Number of years in management: 25+

Tell us about your path to management:
My path to management evolved from student leadership and mid-managerial professional tracks towards the Executive Director role of several community-based organizations as well as becoming the Executive Director of corporate level departments.

What leadership qualities do you find to be the most effective in reaching your organizational or career goals? 
The qualities I find most effective in reaching my organizational and career goals include Shared Leadership, Servant Leadership, and Collective Impact Leadership. These approaches and leadership qualities are critical to managing coalition development and addressing public issues.

How do you motivate your team members? 
I motivate my team members by involving them in shared team-building assignments and projects, through cross-collaborating ideas, and by giving positive feedback.

Is there a leader or mentor who has inspired or assisted you along your professional journey?
I believe inspiration and assistance come from many different realms and are necessary in order to grow beyond your own thoughts and mentality. Throughout my professional journey, inspiration has come from several mentors, including professional mentors, friends, parental mentorship, and collegiate mentors.

How has networking impacted your career?
Networking has been the foundation and absolutely fundamental to my career. Without it my career would not look anything like it does today. People, and the resources they bring, are critical to helping others reach their goals. No man is an island; networking is substantial to the human experience.

What are you reading and/or following now (book, blog, social media groups, etc)?
Currently, I am listening to a webinar series on Collective Impact to learn their strategies to maintain long-term, sustainable partnerships in order to function successfully as a community backbone.

What advice do you have for those beginning their professional journey or who are already in leadership positions? 
My advice would be this: Be patient with yourself and others, show compassion, care more about the people you work for and with rather than yourself, and know “It is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Do you have an initiative or project you would like to tell our readers about?
I would like readers to know that Overtown Children and Youth Coalition (OCYC) is a part of the statewide coalition called the Florida Children’s Initiative (FCI). FCI is made of 5 children and youth-based sites around the state of Florida including 2 sites in Miami, as well as sites in Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville. The FCI bill was formulated to “develop a strategic community plan consisting of goals, objectives, tasks, and the designation of responsible parties… in neighborhoods or communities in Florida where the infrastructure and opportunities that middle‐class communities take for granted are nonexistent or so marginal that they are ineffective… in order to address focus areas such as (1) Early development and care of children, (2) Education of children and youth, (3) Health and wellness, (4) Youth support, (5) Parent and guardian support, (6) Adult education, (7) Community safety, and (8) Housing and community development”. One of the big wins for FCI this year was an allocation of $500,000 from the Department of Education to be distributed throughout the five FCI communities, including OCYC.

What do you wish you had known before you started your career?
Before starting my career, I wish I would have known that this could be such a long and constantly evolving journey. I would have never guessed that the wealth of experience and the maturation process would be as rewarding and long-term as it has been, and I never thought that this passion would last so long; I guess I got lucky!

Share a mistake or failure that provided the most growth in your career.
My area of greatest growth has been learning to honor the importance of time-management and to manage competing priorities. I have learned this through the mistake of not making the most important steps the top priority, and not accomplishing what was most necessary at the time.

Where can people reach you for questions (LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter)? or
Phone: (305) 704-8973

The views expressed herein are those solely of the author and not necessarily endorsed by the Network for Social Work Management.

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