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Intersectional Innovations

Top 20 Restorative
People Leaders to Watch 

Why Did We Start This Watchlist?

 

Why do we feel these leaders are a good addition to our watchlist?

We feel you represent not just a great People Leader but a Restorative People Leader. 

  • Restorative leaders are proactive, not reactive.

  • Restorative leaders are curious and seek to understand “why.”

  • Restorative leaders are gardeners in their workplaces, not landscapers.

What is this watchlist celebrating?

"Restorative Leader" can be compared to a well-seasoned and maintained garden tool, like a pruning shear. Just as a pruning shear must be kept sharp, clean, and in good working condition to effectively shape and nurture the growth of the garden, a Restored Leader must be mindful of their own wellness and mental state to effectively lead and develop others.

A Restorative Leader, much like the shear that is regularly sharpened and oiled, takes accountability for their personal well-being and mental clarity. This self-maintenance ensures they can make precise cuts – or decisions – that are beneficial for the growth of their team and organization, rather than harmful or counterproductive.

Being proactive and solution-oriented, a Restorative Leader, like a well-cared-for garden tool, is always ready for action, able to address challenges efficiently and creatively. Their focus on development, both personal and for others, parallels the tool's role in not just maintaining but enhancing the health and beauty of the garden.

Working with others, a Restorative Leader values trust, influence, buy-in, transparency, and clarity – key elements for effective collaboration and growth. This is akin to the way a good gardening tool works in harmony with the gardener's hands, complementing their skills and enhancing their ability to care for the garden.

In essence, a Restorative Leader, much like a well-maintained garden tool, is essential for cultivating a healthy, thriving, and productive environment where both the leader and their team can grow and flourish together.

Our goal with this list is to celebrate and inspire future leaders to be restorative!

2nd Edition - Top 20 Restorative People Leader Watchlist

Welcome to our 2nd edition!

We hand-selected 20 People Leaders and asked them these 5 questions. This watchlist was released on July 9th, 2024 by Intersectional Innovations.

Question One

Success Celebration

Do teams perform better when trust is earned or granted to everyone upon hire?

Question Two

Restorative Mindset

What measures have you taken to cultivate a growth mindset within your social media network, emphasizing continual learning and proactive approaches to conflict resolution?

Question Three
Thoughts on DEI

I would love to hear your thoughts on the evolution of DEI in corporate America in the past few years.

Question Four
Leadership Superpowers

If you could grant 1 superpower to others as a restorative leader, which of the 3 superpowers would you give the members of your community?

Compassion Enhancement: The ability to instantly deeply understand and resonate with the emotions and motivations of all team members, leading to ally actions and more effective collaboration.

Teleportation Wand: A superpower that allows one to see the future for a few seconds to see things from other's points of view.

Conflict Diffusion Wave: The capability to emit a calming aura that instantly diffuses tensions and resolves conflicts, promoting a harmonious and productive team environment.

Question Five

Budget Priorities

If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

Meet Nate Shalev

Spotlight Video Interview - 2nd Edition

Nate's journey into restorative leadership began on their 16th birthday at the Nuyorican Poetry Slam, where they first recognized the transformative power of storytelling. This profound realization led them to earn degrees from Barnard College of Columbia University and New York University, shaping their commitment to creating inclusive spaces. Through their consultancy, Revel Impact, Nate excels at fostering environments where individuals and teams gain deep insights into themselves and each other, driving organizational success. Their dedication to making change in both ordinary and extraordinary moments is why they were selected as our spotlight interview for the 2nd edition of our Top 20 Restorative People Leader Watchlist.

Spotlight Video Interview - 2nd Edition

Meet Our Watchlist Winners

We hand-selected a few of our winners to here what they had to say on video. Read below for a summary of all award winner's responses to our 5 questions. 

Join us as Nate Shalev delves into the complexities of creating genuine inclusivity for non-binary individuals in the workplace. Discover transformative actions and policies that go beyond visibility, addressing systemic barriers and hiring biases. Nate shares pivotal moments from their career, shedding light on the impact of identity and the need for supportive changes. Learn strategies to foster an inclusive environment that alleviates the burden of constant self-advocacy for trans and non-binary employees.

1. Collective Trust: Do teams perform better when trust is earned or granted to everyone upon hire?

For me, the most important thing is honesty and being authentic. It's really about the leader to set the tone. What I like to tell people is that everybody is a leader. Trust, truth, and authenticity are key. 

2. Restorative Mindset: What measures have you taken to cultivate a growth mindset within your social media network, emphasizing continual learning and proactive approaches to conflict resolution?
 

The workplace is dynamic. Change is inevitable. The way we work has changed drastically after the pandemic. Communication is generational. Some people prefer text messages, some people prefer in-person. As leaders we need to consider everyone's communication styles to ensure we succeed as a team.

3. Thoughts on DEI: I would love to hear your thoughts on the evolution of DEI in corporate America in the past few years.

I think the people who do not support DEI are operating from a place of fear. The truth is the native American population went through genocide in the United States. As indigenous women, we have barely started our healing. We need to heal everyone and that includes Native Americans. A lot of these conversations are not linear they are layered. 


4. Leadership Superpowers: If you could grant 1 superpower to others as a restorative leader, which of the 3 superpowers would you give the members of your community? Compassion Enhancement: The ability to instantly deeply understand and resonate with the emotions and motivations of all team members, leading to ally actions and more effective collaboration. Teleportation Wand: A superpower that allows one to see the future for a few seconds to see things from other's points of view. Conflict Diffusion Wave: The capability to emit a calming aura that instantly diffuses tensions and resolves conflicts, promoting a harmonious and productive team environment.


Compassion Enhancement is important. That goes hand in hand with conflict resolution.
 

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?


1. Professional development

​2. Project Resources

3. Customer service

4. Benefits

5. DEI Programs

1. Collective Trust: Do teams perform better when trust is earned or granted to everyone upon hire?

Trust should be given to all whether they are new or not. With no trust, nothing can be accomplished. 

2. Restorative Mindset: What measures have you taken to cultivate a growth mindset within your social media network, emphasizing continual learning and proactive approaches to conflict resolution?
 

I am continually learning and teaching. A lot of my books come with workbooks so that the information can be customized. Teaching should be fun. If I hear someone laughing in a workshop that puts a smile on my face.  

3. Thoughts on DEI: I would love to hear your thoughts on the evolution of DEI in corporate America in the past few years.

The language of DEI has changed many times over the years. When I first started DEI was called multiculturalism, then Diversity, then Diversity & Inclusion, then DEI then DEIB. There is a reason. It never quite worked. I have chosen not to continue to change the language. If we continue to be as angry and divisive as we are now, nothing will get solved. We must take a step back breathe and show compassion.  
 

4. Leadership Superpowers: If you could grant 1 superpower to others as a restorative leader, which of the 3 superpowers would you give the members of your community? Compassion Enhancement: The ability to instantly deeply understand and resonate with the emotions and motivations of all team members, leading to ally actions and more effective collaboration. Teleportation Wand: A superpower that allows one to see the future for a few seconds to see things from other's points of view. Conflict Diffusion Wave: The capability to emit a calming aura that instantly diffuses tensions and resolves conflicts, promoting a harmonious and productive team environment.


How do I choose? This is why I created the matrix model management system to help us measure emotions in the room. I call this emotion metrics. We have lost a lot of our personal skills during the pandemic.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

1. Investing in technology and learning gen AI.
2. Marketing
3. Book Editor

 

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

I celebrate my successes with my ‘jar of wins.’ I write my accomplishments and the dates I accomplished them on a sticky note and place them into my Jar of Wins. I read them on my birthday and at the end of the year. I always make a big deal out of team successes with verbal compliments, scheduling activities outside the workspace, and ensuring that each member feels valued for what they contribute. My colleagues feel excited to work with me because I value imagination and play in program (circle process) planning and execution. They know it is imperative for me as one of the organization’s leaders to include those intangibles specific to my team members and our process participants’ needs, including new learning, to help us meet our goals in the circle process.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

I have championed justice, anti-racism, and collaboration within my team and organization by advocating for salary transparency and a flattened organizational structure more aligned with restorative justice principles (co-powering and power-sharing). As a Black woman leader with Black colleagues and supervisees, my utmost priority is to skill-share with Black women professionals who we know often put in the most work but are paid the least. By skill- sharing (restorative justice facilitation; coaching, program management, program budgets, curriculum design, grant management, goal setting, etc.) with Black women, I also plan professional development that challenges the individual and organization practices that can be rooted in white supremacist ideology. I look for Black gender-queer professionals who incorporate an analysis of systems of domination from gender justice training to communication. I use restorative justice tools such as restorative questions and restorative circles so that the people most impacted by the decision can share their thoughts, affirm, reject the potential choices, and even offer new ideas.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

 

As the organization leader responsible for providing high-quality restorative justice practices, I make sure to include in each team meeting space for collective learning and discussion on using Indigenous (Afro-Indigenous in my case) justice practices. These spaces allow us to dismiss neutrality ( white supremacist behavior) and see our role as facilitators (and community residents) to be invested in the well-being of the participants and maintain fidelity to our restorative justice processes. Recently, I have incorporated free writing exercises into our meeting space as a warm-up to encourage our team to indulge their inner child as we think through supporting young people, especially those who need support in mitigating violence and addressing conflict.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?
 

Along with ensuring staff can experience community building and dialogue to foster a sense of connection as participants in restorative circles, I created a check-in agenda with dedicated space for my team members and me to give and receive feedback from one another. This continuous feedback structure, which includes personal reflection, creates space for team members with less access to the positional and informational power I have to share where their supervisor and the entire director team can improve regarding direct service to clients and operational and development decisions. This space allows managers and coordinators to communicate with their supervisors about where their support and attention are needed for the task or project. This feedback structure challenges power imbalances often heralded as critical in the workplace but does not foster an environment where non-executive, -directorial, and frequently managerial staff members can provide their wisdom and experience that often challenges leadership without the threat of retaliation.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

If I had an unlimited company budget, the top five things on my list would be:

1. A staff of 50 full-time and part-time restorative justice practitioners.

2. Paid fellowship and intern positions specifically for Baltimore City and County youth and Maryland-based HBCU students.

3. 100% full coverage for health, vision, and dental benefits for all staff.

4. A minimum $150,000.00 salary is required for all employees regardless of position within the organization.

5. Organizational and Individual professional development opportunities (including travel, lodging, etc.)

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

So you have to know what grabs people's engines. If you don't know your people well enough to do that, they're not your people yet. There's something called Shen in Chinese medicine, and it refers to the amount of sparkle in somebody's eyes. We've all seen after tragedy, the dullness that shows up in people's eyes, right? Your ability to enhance someone's Shen is everything, but you have to know how to do this. So know your people first, know them, know them first.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

This is going to be a different answer than people are used to hearing. But on a biological level, some things happen physiologically that create exclusion, that happen subconsciously, that are happening on a hormonal level, that are not really anybody's fault. So as a white woman, I believe it is part of my job to encourage other people who like me to say, listen, you probably are othering other people. You might not know it. This is why this is the biological process that's happening in you while you do it, and this is how you overcome it. You have to work on purpose to overcome it. It's not natural. It's not automatic. We are designed to keep each other out in certain circumstances. That's what our biology does because it protects our resources. It protects our tribe. It very important thing. So if we are going to work through this process, we have to somehow move the morality to the side for a moment and say, listen, there's another layer going on here that needs to be addressed.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

So a coach that I worked with a long time ago said she gathers her team a couple of times a year and takes out a big flip chart and writes at the top of it "Wouldn't it be fun if..." Creating an atmosphere where we can throw out ideas and the goal behind it searching for joy and fun. Even when we're in a serious corporate structure leads to some super innovative ideas and leads to a playful nature as we're looking through it. So there becomes a lot less judgment, a lot less butt ends, a lot less reaction and just being like, oh, maybe that would be fun.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

To me, this is the shortest answer of all of them. As a leader, you model a live and vibrant feedback. That's it. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that. The more profuse and joyful you are with your feedback, the more likely your people are going to engage in that same type of feedback.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

Coaching at every level. Your job is to grow people no matter where they end up. I think the next bit is vacation pay, parental leave, sick leave, grief, bereavement leave, all of these things. Trauma healing Community centers and take care for entire communities and not only employees of the company.

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

When listeners of my show reach out to share how my templates have been helpful, or how an episode inspired them to confidently tackle a challenging conversation with their CEO, I make it a point to thank them for their bravery. This gratitude often comes as a surprise, as they don't expect to be thanked for using a resource I created. However, I believe in acknowledging the courage it takes to introduce progressive, people-first concepts in HR, which have been long overdue for an overhaul. This approach not only celebrates their individual moment of leadership but also contributes to a larger movement towards ending the unnecessary suffering of this modern work life.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

The work across my two podcasts has always been centered around real conversations I have with HR leaders about the problems they face in their organizations. When I see a clear pattern, I know I have my next template, episode, or deep dive workshop. I make time for HR leaders of all experience levels, from intern to executive so I keep a well-rounded understanding of what content will be most helpful to the HR world.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

I’m constantly reminding my listeners to find their “HR bestie(s)”. Other than sometimes interacting with me, a lot of them are used to suffering in silence. Problem solving with someone in a role similar to yours, at another organization, can be one of the most helpful, eye-opening, imposter syndrome-killing ways to think through the best solutions for your organization. I also only partner with other organizations I’ve truly vetted as helpful, my promise is to only promote products I’ve seen in action that I know would help.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

For a feedback disco to work, you must create an atmosphere of safe, open expression, grounded in psychological safety. Leveraging the Radical Candor framework, I encourage kind, clear, specific, and sincere feedback, fostering an environment where care for each other's growth is at the heart of why it’s being given. One-on-ones, surveys, team retrospectives, and anonymous feedback mechanisms ensure all voices are heard. By training in effective feedback techniques and promoting two-way feedback across all levels, you create a dynamic and inclusive feedback loop ‘disco party’.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

1. Training for the people managers - they spend significantly more time with employees and are often the most overlooked and biggest accidental driver of team disengagement

 

2. Coaching for the executives - When they’re inaccessible, intimidating, a weak public speaker, and/or prioritize revenue decisions over the people, your employees feel it and your culture always follows suit.

 

3. Full-Time Onboarding Trainer - This period is crucial for a new employee; after the excitement of getting the job fades, they're assessing whether joining your company was the right choice. Poor onboarding leads to fear and frustration, resulting in low productivity, which is very expensive.

 

4. An Internal company podcast - An internal company podcast is a cutting-edge and cost-effective way to engage employees during their everyday activities, like commuting or exercising. This format complements traditional communication methods like Slack, emails, and All-Hands meetings, catering to diverse learning styles and offering convenience. It's an ideal platform for executives to share updates, celebrate successes, and make announcements, keeping employees informed and connected in a more accessible way.

 

5. HR Communities and Events - Driving engagement is tough to do by yourself. It's much easier if you share ideas and work with others who are trying to fix similar issues. This way, you can be more forward-thinking in your HR approach instead of just reacting to problems as they come up. Communities like Engagement Academy are writing the playbook for employee engagement for the first time- it’s been vague and very poorly defined in the past. It really is the golden age of HR right now!

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

Celebrating success and marking milestones is crucial to helping the team and individual members feel a sense of accomplishment and momentum. This is a bit easier in our environment because our programs are cyclical and have specific milestones we need to meet on a monthly or yearly basis in order for the program to succeed. I make sure to take time in employee 1x1 meetings to congratulate them on achieving significant milestones, and also share the news out with other team members, including Board members, via email. Finally, we host teambuilding celebrations to mark the end of a program year, and include our student leaders in those celebrations, so that everyone has a strong sense of completion before they graduate, start college and focus on other projects.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

Our organization trains youth on creating inclusive and equitable spaces, so these values are intrinsic to our work and permeate everything we do. We leverage youth voice to determine the direction of our programs so that our work always remains relevant to today's young people, and we are intention in our recruitment of youth from marginalized backgrounds into leadership roles. We undertake leadership training with youth co-leaders on core DEI and social justice principles, so they understand how their actions can create a more inclusive and equitable space, and we do specific training on how to build consensus in decision making so there are no winners or losers.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

As our program is youth-led, we provide space for the youth leaders to brainstorm what issues they want to focus on, how they want to shape the program so that it best meets their needs. This process leads to a lot of open-ended creativity and innovation that has helped us continue to refine and reform our program over the years. We have a strong culture of constant improvement so that we never do things "because they were always done that way" and are constantly seeking feedback from stakeholders for improvement. As well as a small nonprofit with limited resources, we are always looking for creative and unique ways to use our small amount of funding for the biggest impact, and this naturally leads to a lot of creativity!


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

Authenticity and vulnerability are two topics we specifically train both our youth members and adult staff members on, as foundational to building relationships. We practice being vulnerable with each other through exercises and workshops. As we are constantly seeking feedback, it creates an atmosphere where suggestions for improvement are always expected, and not interpreted as criticism.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

Number one for us would be an app for our youth participants, to feel connected to our programming and informed of opportunities! Otherwise, we would love to build out our staff capacity to better serve and support our youth. A bit lower on the list would be funds to help with publicity and marketing, to spread the word and make more youth aware of our services and get them involved!

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

I’m not always the best at celebrating individual successes. I see so much work that needs to be done & I often forget to look back to see how far programs have come. Anytime we have a person who really benefits from RJ & has a powerful experience and is willing to talk about it, we do try to share that broadly so that everyone who works in the program gets to see & feel the impact of the work they are doing. I also like to take these stories and distribute them to DAs so that those who refer cases will be encouraged and motivated to keep referring and those who do not refer cases might see the power of RJ and decide to refer a case.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

One of the things we really struggled with at Restorative Denver is that individual prosecutors have discretion on which cases to refer to RJ & which not to RJ. So as you might expect, there is a lack of equity in referrals & some DAs refer cases frequently & some hardly ever refer. This means that an opportunity to participate in RJ often depends on which DA your case was assigned to. So one thing we did this fall was develop a new thematic RJ program for certain misdemeanor gun possession cases and this program removes DA discretion. For this program, if a case meets the referral criteria, it is automatically referred to the program, regardless of whether the assigned DA agrees with the referral or not. It took a lot of research and convincing to get the leadership at the DA’s office to embrace the program, but we eventually got there & I’m excited to evaluate the success of the program.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional bounda