Humanitarian: a philanthropist or person who seeks to promote human welfare. In other words, a PARKer: a person who Performs Acts of Random Kindness - LIKE YOU!
Today is World Humanitarian Day and, to celebrate, we're making Time to be Kind with Jane Hopkins. She's the President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and, the way I see it, her job the past 20 years has been planting seeds of kindness that are blossoming into the next generation of humanitarians.
Connect with Jane on Twitter @janehalehopkins
Connect with Jane on Instagram - janehalehopkins
[00:19] Marly Q: Hi PARKer, welcome to Episode 21 with Jane Hopkins, today is World Humanitarian Day and to celebrate, I asked a very special guest to make Time to be Kind with us. Jane Hopkins is the president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, which was founded in 1986, and has awarded over $70 million in scholarships to over 6000 scholars nationwide.
I am one of those proud scholars and alumni of this global network of people who Perform Acts of Random Kindness, PARKers just like you and me!
As president, Jane is responsible for advancing the foundation's efforts to develop an influential community of socially conscious and service minded leaders who positively shape the world. The way I see it, her job for the past 20 years has been planting seeds of kindness that blossom into the next generation of humanitarians. I really hope you enjoy this inspiring conversation. Let's listen!
Welcome, welcome to the show. I'm so excited to have you making the Time to be Kind with me today Jane, welcome.
[01:20] Jane: Marly, I am so happy to be with you, it's nice to hear your voice.
[01:25] Marly Q: Thank you. I love that, for someone that's had, you know, a complex with her voice her whole life, you know, podcasting is a new way of sharing and getting intimate with my voice. So, thank you for that. I appreciate your kindness.
[01:38] Jane: You're welcome. I will say that I am a hugger so, this whole sheltering in place has been hard for me but I know that when we're actually able to all be together again, it's going to be joyful beyond what we've experienced in gathering previously.
[01:56] Marly Q: Absolutely, so big-- we'll start off with big, virtual hugs to each other, and to everybody listening, just, I want you to just breathe it in and just feel hugged right now.
[02:06] Jane: Oh, I feel it. I do back to you.
[02:09] Marly Q: Good. And I hope our PARKers listening feel hugged too, what a beautiful kick off our conversation. Today is World Humanitarian Day, and when I think of you know, the legend of humanitarians, we share a similar one in common that comes to mind, which is?
[02:28] Jane: Mother Teresa.
[02:30] Marly Q: Yes, my absolute favorite. I mean, someone that rooted everything that she did in kindness, in my opinion and talked about, it's not you know, about big things or great things, it's about doing the small things with great love, all about that.
I mean, I can go on for days about beautiful Mother Teresa quotes that inspire me. But really, I invited you to be on the show today because I see humanitarianism as, yes important to think of the legends and the people that have existed in history and the names that we all know, and I also get really inspired by the fact that your work revolves around creating the next generation of humanitarians. As a Coca-Cola scholar, a very proud Coca-Cola scholar myself, class of 2002, I'll go ahead and date myself, I have always just held this love and respect and gratitude to the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, not just for giving me the scholarship that was super competitive, and it was this big deal but really, you support education and leadership in our youth. And I find that it's all rooted, everything that you teach the community or the family, really, that you've built through the foundation is all rooted in kindness and I'm just so excited to be a part of the family and I'm so grateful to have you on board today making the time to be kind.
[04:03] Jane: Thank you. Well, we are so happy you are part of the family, we're so proud of you. And I am so grateful for the work that I get to do, I think I knew at a really young age that I wanted my profession to be a calling with purpose, that college for me was training of the heart as well as training of the mind. And so, to be able to validate and lift up and celebrate our nation and our world's next generation of leaders, is such a privilege to do on behalf of our alumni community and the entire Coca-Cola system. I pinch myself sometimes, I don't know how I got so lucky to do this work. It's joyous!
[04:45] Marly Q: Yes, I got to do an interview on World Youth Skills Day where I didn't interview anyone, I had 10 year old girls interview me, and their question, one of them that I remember right now while you were chatting was, "Do you love your job so much that you can imagine doing it forever and ever?".
So, I want to ask you that same question; do you love your job so much that you can imagine doing it forever and ever?
[05:09] Jane: I do, absolutely. That's such a good question, so insightful from a young girl. I've been with the foundation almost 20 years now so, I started in a finance role and have been able to sort of grow up doing this work. And yes, the answer is very simple, I love the work that I do, I can imagine doing it forever and ever. And to build what you said at the beginning, it's rooted in kindness. Sometimes I think we're afraid to use the next word that I'm going to use in a corporate setting but truly the work that we do is about LOVE.
It's about lifting other people up so, it's rooted in kindness, and it's rooted in love.
[05:48] Marly Q: And what's better than that? Let's do that forever and ever. Oh, forever and ever. I love it. So, I wanted to definitely dive into some details about the work that the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is doing and how we had to kind of pivot and change with this whole, you know, pandemic that we've been experiencing, not just the health pandemic, but the financial crisis as well, a humanitarian crisis that we're experiencing in the midst of all of this. So, how has the foundation I guess, just approached all these-- this challenging time?
[06:24] Jane: Well, it's a great question, and we are so much about building connections within our alumni community, we talk about, "Yes, we provide a scholarship, we help students get to college or to the college of their choice.", but we think the real magic is in the family of our alumni community and how all of you, Marly, continue to come together, to open your hearts to each other, to learn from each other, to be inspired by each other throughout your life, to continue to build up your own communities. And so, historically, we've done that by bringing people together in person, right? We've seen you and other scholars, there in Florida so, we had to start thinking about how do we create virtual connections? And so, very early on, we said, "What's the programming that we planned for the rest of the year? And how do we make that virtual?". So, we were already in the process of producing a podcast, the first episode, The SIP, Coke Scholars Ignite is up anywhere that you search and listen to podcasts. We pair two scholars together in conversation in each one, I think there's six episodes.
[07:33] Marly Q: Congratulations, by the way, because I know it's not easy to put together a podcast, and I also, we launched it very, very close together, I launched mine, April 15th, and I remember you all were very close to that. And I got to interview a Coca-Cola scholar, one of our very first episodes, Juliana Tafur and it's just so nice to have been able to kind of launch that at the same time, I'll definitely include the link to the SIP Podcast, which I love that, Coca-Cola SIP, so perfect, in our show notes so that people can check it out. It's a great podcast.
[08:04] Jane: Thank you, I appreciate that. And when we launched it, we started promoting it via Insta lives so, that is cool. We've also, we had to cancel our in person banquet this year so, we are having a virtual banquet at the beginning of August and we'll feature Wes Moore as our keynote speaker, we're working on a really cool musical number that feature scholars.
So, my team is amazing and Lauren, Jamie, Carolyn, LaQuanda, Erica, all of them, reimagined their jobs immediately, before I even asked them to and said, "How can I do my work virtually this year?".
So, we've taken a lot of programming, scholars have been doing professional development sessions for each other and that's been really important. And then, I'll tell you one of the most important things we did this summer, after the killing of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breanna Taylor and the racial injustices that came to the forefront of society, we said, "You know, we need to be having some really hard questions, we need to be having some really important conversations in this country with each other, right? And really listening.". And we think it's important that we start having those hard conversations within families first and we think of our Coca-Cola Scholars coalition network as a family and so, we have been very intentional about creating space for Coke Scholars to come together, to learn from each other. And two weeks ago, we had our first Coke Scholars Real Talk, we had a panel of five scholars, black scholars who work in the DNI space, and they talked to us about what it is to be black in America and we went, for the entire, I think we had it scheduled for an hour and a half and we wrapped up, people want to just keep going. So, we kept going for another hour, and it was a powerful, powerful conversation; authentic, true, emotional. And I think so many of us left that conversation thinking, "How do we do things differently tomorrow?".
[10:14] Marly Q: Is that something that we'd be able to, that is up for, like replay anywhere? Or if you missed that live event, you missed it?
[10:20] Jane: No, you can replay it, but it is for scholars only. We really wanted to create a space for scholars to have the conversation.
[10:28] Marly Q: Beautiful. Well, I love that. So, for our PARKers listening, I can't include that link in the show notes, but I can definitely watch the replay because I did miss that so, thank you for sharing that. That's an awesome way to build community, build connection, like you said, and actually discuss the difficult questions so, I totally understand the need for having created a safe place within the community to do so. So, that's awesome.
One particular program that I'm really excited to be a part of, as of the last two years or so, is your Leadership Development Institute, which also went virtual. In 2018, it was the first time that I ever left my baby alone, my first baby, I was like, "I'm going to go to Georgia and I'm going to be a part of this training for three days.", it's all volunteer, but I had the opportunity to facilitate and be a mentor to that new class of Coca-Cola Scholars in 2018, and it was an amazing experience, a live experience. I cried every day, honestly, because I missed my baby, but I was a brand-new mom and I'm still so proud of myself for going because I felt like I received so much more than I gave, right? I gave my time; I gave my heart and kindness there with you guys for that program, but I feel like I received so much as well.
And so much so that I decided to take you up on the invitation to be a facilitator again, this year 2020, I've been facilitating virtually for your Leadership Development Institute and mentoring five scholars via zoom and it's such a different experience. Because I mean, listen, I'm an event creator for the last 20 years, I am about the in person live event so, this has been very difficult for me, not just my business has crumbled, but just for me personally, to feel so sheltered and kind of isolated when I absolutely love connection and community and live event experiences. But I just want to take a moment to highlight that program and have you, you know, maybe go a little deeper into what the purpose of the LDI, Leadership Development Institute is, because I absolutely love it and I love being a part of it.
[12:32] Jane: Yeah, we use our curriculum with our new class of scholars each year, this model on an inside out framework of thinking about leadership. So, the idea is to understand yourself, in order to bring others along with you. And I think for many high school seniors, it's a new way of thinking about leadership, that idea of being self-reflective, in order to be an effective leader.
So, we teach four key leadership values; Self-awareness, Empathy, Inspiration and Vision.
But we're so proud of it and I think, you know, the goal is really to give our scholars a new tool when they go on to their college campuses in the fall to be really effective leaders. And I think, for so many of them and you know, as a facilitator, you could probably speak to this better than I can, but for so many of them, it's the first time they've sat down and been reflective on the peaks and valleys of their lives and how that shapes the lens with which they view the world, right? Or really understand the value of empathy, right? And we delve into a little bit of Brene Brown's work there, but really opening your heart to others, and it goes back to that kindness that you were talking about earlier.
[13:44] Marly Q: Absolutely. I mean, from my experience, bringing these five Coke Scholars together, who've never met each other, they're from all different parts of the U.S., and at first, you know, my biggest goal is to create that kind of safe environment for the students to feel that they can open up and they can connect, and this is a safe place. And not only is it a safe place, but we're going to have fun, also, and we're going to enjoy learning about ourselves and learning about each other. And thankfully, I have some experience doing that, I do quite a bit of work in self-awareness and empathy and I've had a lot of leadership training as well from the inside out, I believe, maybe I never thought about it that way, but yeah, I think that that's the way you know, to approach leadership is from knowing yourself first so that you know, how can you lead others if you don't even know how to lead yourself, right? So, I have had a wonderful experience with my Coke Scholars in creating that connection. I mean, I have a great group of students so, I'm super lucky. I think everybody that's chosen as a Coca- Cola Scholar is a great student and a great leader at heart, but it is really awesome to see them have opened up and be vulnerable and share and practice empathy and mindful communication, right? I am absolutely loving the process, I leave every single session just buzzing with energy and smiling and honestly feeling really hopeful, feeling really inspired and hopeful for the future because like I said, how we opened up this conversation, I feel what you're doing is planting these seeds of love and kindness and humanitarianism in young people who are the ones that are going to rise up and be the change that we wish to see in this world.
And the way that we do that is by teaching them, educating them and inspiring them and empowering them, with the space to do that self-reflection work, but also to practice with one another and connect with each other and then, provide the family, community from then on out, where they could always feel connected to, "You know what? We might be experiencing some very difficult and dark times in history, and at the same exact time, I can be the change that I wish to see in the world. I, as a young person can be the spark of that change.", and it starts by you practicing empathy, and compassion, and acceptance and all those things towards yourself. So, I am just such a supporter of the curriculum, if you will, that I am honored to be able to facilitate, I think I received so much from it as well. And when I had the opportunity to share with the group, right? Because you guys encourage us also to share, not just create the space for the students, you know, sometimes I feel myself like, "I don't know that I want to share like, are these kids "going to relate", you know, to me, I'm here pregnant and you know, I'm "successful" in my profession, and I'm already a professional philanthropist and this and that, and am I going to be intimidating to them and are they not going to be able to relate with me?", and it's the complete opposite of that. Really, when we create that space and be vulnerable and authentic with each other, the students are like, super, we're on the same page, we all want the same thing, we all want love and connection. So, I've learned a lot, too.
[17:05] Jane: I think that's so true and I thought about that a lot, so beautifully said. I think whether you're 18 or 47, like me, self-love is a journey, right? I may be a little further along the path than some of our scholars, but I still have to remind myself, I still have to be mindful, I still have to recognize my thoughts and emotions and say, "Wait, that's not the story that I want running through my head.", right? It's still a struggle and if I may share, I say that I'm a recovering perfectionist, which is an exhausting place to be, the idea that perfectionism is the ideal, right? And so, that self-love is still something that I have to work on. But when you can sit in a place where you really are compassionate with yourself, I think that the magic and the beauty and the gifts that you're able to put out in the world are magnified; they're so much more impactful, and you reach so many more people.
[18:08] Marly Q: Absolutely. Thank you for reflecting that for me, because that's exactly how I feel at the end of the session with the students with LDI, I actually stop and I put my hands on my heart, I smile, and I say thank you to ME. I say thank you to myself, for actually going through that journey, self-love, like you said, is a journey and I think that the reason that I am an effective facilitator and that I've been able to create a space for the students to open up and practice self-awareness and practice empathy and practice identifying your emotions and not making them wrong, is because I have done so much of that work on myself. And when I'm vulnerable, and shut up that little voice that says, "You know, don't share that story, because these kids aren't going to relate with you.", and I say, "No, I'm going to share that story because it's me taking that 25% risk and going outside of my comfort zone, and let's see what magic is there when I can show or display vulnerability.", which is what we're asking the students to do, to practice as well. And that's exactly what I feel, I feel that there's magic that is unlocked as a result of us being the spark of that connection that we wish to have with other people, we have to do that. Magic sums it up!
[19:26] Jane: It does. It's hard to articulate, but it's just a word that I think represents, you know, I often say when we put a group of Coca-Cola Scholars in a room together, the magic happens and all of our lives are elevated because of it. I would just add, I think what is so special about scholars is, you know, we have 31 classes of scholars now, well over 6,000 of you in our alumni community, and everyone has a different story and a different journey and they come with different experiences, but I think what unites all of you is whatever your passion is, you see a different version of the future, and you're willing to go after it, right? And so, where we can teach someone is leadership values that help you go after your better version of the future is really where we want to be. And then, to continue to bring you back together so that the values of service and leadership that were so important in your selection as a Coca-Cola Scholar, continue to show up in your lives, as you start your families, as you embark on different careers, at all times and that you continually strive for that better future.
[20:40] Marly Q: Well then, you're doing a great job at that because that's exactly what you all instilled in me, that little seed was planted in 2002 when I flew up from Hialeah, Florida, all the way to Atlanta, Georgia for the first time, away from my family, which I couldn't believe they let me go and I got to experience you know, my own leadership summit and I got to do the self-awareness and the empathy and be inspired and reflect on what inspires me and have the opportunity to actually create my vision, which ended up being everything that I revolve my business as a speaker, a teacher and event creator is all around being the spark of kindness.
That started there, I mean, you know, you guys helped me put together like a framework to it and I'm just always so grateful. So, again, that's really why I reached out to invite you to be on my podcast, I'm so grateful that you said yes and decided to make the time to be kind because I think even those that are listening, that are not Coca-Cola Scholars, which is most of the people maybe that are listening are like, "Hey, well, you know, that's great that you guys are all you know, in this tight knit little family and community.", but I think that there's still just so much inspiration that others can draw from knowing that there is a non-profit out there that is creating the next generation of humanitarians, that is actively teaching and empowering and inspiring our youth to be the change that we all wish to see in the world, so just thank you so much.
[22:11] Jane: Oh, thank you, that's such a beautiful compliment. And you know, as we think about those in the audience, who are not Coca-Cola Scholars today, maybe the one takeaway is that, it's this idea of being vulnerable to create connection that we need so desperately in our society right now. You know, instead of people screaming from the inside, because they're obviously hurting inside,
if we could all share where the hurt comes from, and what makes us vulnerable, we come together as a society.
[22:45] Marly Q: Yeah, that's a beautiful takeaway. Thank you so much again, Jane. I appreciate you, and this podcast episode was extra special, thank you for just allowing me the opportunity to say thank you and to showcase and put the spotlight on the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, the team behind the scenes and also just the entire family across the world.
[23:09] Jane: Yeah, it means so much to me that you would invite me, it means so much to our team, and we are backed by the Coca-Cola company and Coca-Cola bottlers across the country who have understood for a long time how important it is to be kind to the communities that they do business and have truly wanted to lift up future leaders, not for any other purpose than it's the right thing to do. I'm really proud to represent them in that work.
[23:38] Marly Q: I love it. Oh, with that, I want to give another big virtual hug to you, to the entire Coca-Cola Scholars family, the team behind the scenes, and every single one of you listening PARKers. Thank you so much for being the humanitarians that we are celebrating today.
[23:54] Jane: Thank you.
[23:56] Outro: Thank you for making time to be kind and celebrating World Humanitarian Day together. You can support the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation in its efforts to educate, inspire and connect with and lift up the future generation of humanitarians and leaders of our world by visiting marlyq.com/21, you can find this episode's show notes with direct links to connect and listen to The SIP, the Coke Scholars Ignite Podcast too, that's marlyq.com/21.
[24:25] Thank you for listening. If you're inspired to make a little more time to be kind, please subscribe, leave a kind review and share with a friend who would appreciate this podcast too. Thank you for being the spark of kindness. See you next time. [24:37]