Victor Isler, who has served as the Director of Forsyth County Social Services since April 2018, joined The Forsyth Promise Executive Advisory Board in September 2016. He recently sat down with Tash Lane to share his perspective about The Forsyth Promise and his involvement.
What attracted you to The Forsyth Promise Executive Advisory Board and moved you to accept the call to Co-Chair?
The opportunity to come together with other leaders, professionals, advocates, students, and parents guided by the collective impact model, to encourage thought and conversation about how we can advance education and opportunities for individuals – cradle to career – reeled me in to engage.
Additionally, to create that melting pot and diverse pool of people with intentionality where all input matters to help provide direction regarding educational opportunities. This intention and effort may be altruistic, it’s the RIGHT thing to do. It is also a welcome challenge in that we must determine how we synthesize multiple individuals with different experiences and perspectives and in different stages of readiness into an action plan that is meaningful.
The altruism of it is what got me to the place of being involved. Accepting the role as Co-Chair meant that I was up to the challenge to make the intention a reality; asking specifically how do we make this continue to have meaning and to have life?
The vast nature of input and engagement constantly creates this metamorphosis process and while the process is moving in various directions to create outcomes, it’s important to articulate the wins.
A key component of the process of gathering input and seeking engagement exists with TFP’s quarterly Be The Change convenings, in which all individuals interested in education come together to learn, to be inspired, and to be thought-partners. And for me, this amazing opportunity added a lot of value because it provided hope.
Another ‘win’ for The Forsyth Promise is the Data Sharing Project which is a true demonstration of how networking can support individuals in this cradle to career effort. This project demonstrates how we use our collective networking to build a peri-network that then networks children to community resources geared to their academics and look at those outcomes that everyone can see to support that youth.
Another win for me is our ‘unsung hero’ efforts around COVID-19 and how we used our networking capital among those that are educational professionals and advocates and individuals of interest to really help respond to our [remote] learning centers where we took a behind the scenes role in leveraging the social capital and networking infrastructure that The Forsyth Promise built.
With regard to our community, how important is a partnership like The Forsyth Promise?
I think in such a time as this around COVID-19, COVID-19 shed a lot of light on educational inequity which previously existed and has broadened the gap of educational inequity. And because of this, TFP really has a relevance as it relates to how we convene individuals to talk about what our action plan is. There is a lot of energy and interest right now and we really need to seize the opportunity to convene individuals and to work in partnership to create a community action plan.
The logo for The Forsyth Promise includes a dandelion. How significant is that symbol when considering TFP’s mission and vision?
The symbol of the dandelion for me is about The Promise being a hub, an incubator, or a launch pad where once things are ready, symbolized by blowing the dandelion seeds, that whatever is ready to launch, it’s going to launch, go forth and repopulate. And the seeds’ ability to move is equivalent to The Promise actually extending out into the community and having more prevalence. And as those seeds drift in the air, land and take root, it resprsents our ability to develop things collectively in the community. It’s growing, germinating, and continuing to evolve.
What is your favorite quote/expression that inspires you daily?
In the book entitled A is for Attitude: An Alphabet for Living by Dr. Patricia Russell-McCloud, this is a quote that keeps me motivated, “Only when I stood up, spoke up, opened up, and reached out was I able to move forward and take my place in this world.”
The book itself has always been a roadmap for me that gives me hope. And what further motivates me is being clear around hope, my identity, and understanding life’s meaning.
Anything you’d like to share in general about The Forsyth Promise and/or the work?
Stay tuned! There’s an opportunity to respond to our community’s concerns around educational inequity and The Promise is committed to working this jigsaw puzzle to figure it out. So, don’t miss out on the outcome. Stay tuned!