Permission to Speak workbook design by Kelly Galeano Arce and Anya Widyawait; words by LaDonna Witmer
Permission to Speak—as a workbook, is the brainchild of word lover LaDonna Witmer. I found her words of wisdom while churning this site over and over, in my heart and head. I thought I had so much to say of my experiences, yet was plagued with the why. Why should I open my mouth at such a time of divisiveness? How could I contribute in ways that both inspire and inform—that was brave and authentic? Would my speaking up help land my next opportunity and break me out of isolation? Or worse, what if I found my voice pushing me further away from any sense of community or work? There was a lot of fear and doubt to get over. So, I first fell down the LaDonna rabbit hole, and a few others, to finally come back out with a courageous sense of permission.
I spend time each day researching companies and organizations I want to work with or for. On a particular day, I was researching re—inc, the social enterprise founded by USWNT champs Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg, and Christen Press. re—inc is on a mission "of inspiring us all to boldly reimagine the status quo." They are definitely on my radar and deserving of a post of their own! In my wandering about on re—inc, I found their membership page and scrolled down to past experiences. Low and behold there was Permission to Speak, a workshop on finding your voice. I did what we all do when we find a treasure—an Easter egg on the internet. I googled LaDonna Witmer and permission to speak and then fell down, down, down the hole. My search for permission to speak resulted in over 400,000,000 hits. LaDonna's workbook and workshop are three pages in on the search—from a time she presented with the Gladstone Institute in 2020 (yup - in the middle of the global pandemic crisis year). iHeartRadio podcast, Permission to Speak, hosted by Samara Bay, is at the top. Ironically, the Permission to Speak podcast also started in 2020. I've listened to two episodes so far. First, the why of her endeavor where she introduces the words on confidence by Brittney Packnett Cunningham (I fell into that rabbit hole too), and the last episode, How to check your bias: accents with Dr. Katherine Kinzler—a very important listen for all communicators challenging the hierarchy of linguistics.
When finally landing on LaDonna's Permission to Speak workbook, I knew I had found the tool to tackle the silencing of my own voice. In it she shares;
"it takes bravery to own your voice. But with it comes a sense of freedom, a sense of rightness and purpose and pride. THIS, you can say to the world. This is who I am. This is what I've seen. And this is what I know to be true."