Giving Voice to Values

Since it was introduced in March 2021, the Giving Voice to Values initiative has engaged Curtis alumni, students, faculty, staff, and board members in facilitated conversations on the affirmative values in community-making.

Led by Dean Nicholas Lewis, the initiative has attracted more than 200 participants as our community considers its shared values. In the coming weeks we will bring together all of the values-based data points we have collected and distill them into a draft of a Curtis Community Covenant of Values, which will be shared here for feedback and will help guide our return to campus and in-person education this fall.

Community members were asked, “What affirmative values in community-making do you hope to see fostered within the Curtis community?” This word cloud demonstrates all of the responses.

Giving Voice to Values



Below you are invited to engage with the materials used in facilitated conversations this past spring.

Consider Fundamental Questions

Participants were invited to weekly Zoom sessions, where we answered “Five Fundamental Questions” within small breakout groups. Consider these questions yourself:

  • What is your community of origin? (and please tell us a little bit about it!)
  • What were the affirmative or positive values that you discerned from being raised in this community?
  • What is the community in which you currently live?
  • What are the affirmative or positive values that you discern from living in this community?
  • What affirmative values in community-making do you hope to see fostered within the Curtis community?

Explore Our Conversation Starters

Dean Lewis shared resources from top thought leaders on a weekly basis. Explore these books and podcasts and how they related to core values in community-making.

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Using Your Difference to Make a Difference

This Giving Voice to Values conversation starter comes from Tayo Rockson, by way of Sylvia Duckworth, in the form of an Instagram post. Tayo Rockson is the author of Using Your Difference to Make a Difference. In this book, Rockson dedicates an entire chapter to the question “What are your core values?” Sylvia Duckworth adapted this chapter into a set of slide resources for people to consider their own core values.



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Giving Voice to Values 

Mary C. Gentile, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and creator/director of the Giving Voice to Values program. Dr. Gentile also serves as senior adviser at the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program.

In her book, Dr. Gentile makes a rather compelling argument for how being grounded in one’s values serves to empower a person’s engagement in the communities where they live and work. She also offers that one’s value set can serve as a “north star” in times of conflict.



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“The Power Pod”

This podcast comes from the Yale School of Management (SOM).

The first episode of the podcast is titled, “A Conversation on Values with Professor Heidi Brooks.” Heidi Brooks is a senior lecturer in Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management, where she teaches and advises on the subject of everyday leadership. In the podcast, Dr. Brooks discusses how values can inspire people, guide leadership, and inform one’s sense of “true north.”

Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski is the Michael H. Jordan Professor of Management at the SOM where her research interests focus on how people make meaning of their work in difficult contexts, and the experience of work as a job, career, or calling. In this episode Dr. Wrzesniewski shares her impressions of the role of values in leadership and work, and how gaining clarity on one’s core values can orient and empower one’s impact in the world.



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Dare to Lead

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, as well as a visiting professor in management at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. She is the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers, including this most recent title.

Finding alignment with and living into one’s values is a central theme of the book, not only as an individual enterprise, but as a collective endeavor. The first step that she offers is simply figuring out what’s most important, offering, “We can’t live into values that we can’t name.” To this end, Dr. Brown offers a useful resource for naming values.



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The Values Compass: What 101 Countries Teach Us About Purpose, Life, and Leadership

Dr. Mandeep Rai is a world traveler who has visited more than 150 countries while serving as a broadcast journalist for the BBC World Service and Reuters, among others. Over the course of her travels, Dr. Rai took note of the ways in which various countries of the world evidenced particular values as central to their culture. Ultimately, the product of her observations on values took the form of a book: The Values Compass. For more on this book, please check out this podcast with the author.



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The Art of Community: Seven Principles for Belonging

Charles H. Vogl is an award-winning writer, speaker, and executive adviser. His work on community building and leadership is used to advise and develop programs within some of the world’s most influential organizations, including Google, Airbnb, Twitch (Amazon), ServiceNow, and Meetup. Check out this podcast where he discusses The Art of Community, and how shared values help to strengthen identity and foster robust and committed communities of belonging.



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Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know

Adam Grant is a professor and organizational psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Regarded as a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, and live more generous and creative lives, Dr. Grant is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of five books. His newest release, Think Again (2021), advocates the ability to rethink and unlearn as the cognitive skillset most necessary in navigating a rapidly changing world—prizing values over ideas in orienting one’s actions and worldview. For more on this book, check out this podcast (or the video interview).



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The Art of Authenticity: Tools to Become an Authentic Leader and Your Best Self

Karissa Thacker is the founder and president of Strategic Performance Solutions Inc., a management training and consulting firm dedicated to elevating people to reach their highest potential and career satisfaction. Trained as a management psychologist, Dr. Thacker also serves as an adjunct professor in the MBA program at the University of Delaware’s Lerner School of Business. Her book is an exploration into how reflection, action, and conscious choice serve as grounding principles in effective decision making and leadership. For more on The Art of Authenticity: Tools to Become an Authentic Leader and Your Best Self, check out this interview with Dr. Thacker.




Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth

Derrick Albert Bell, Jr. was an American lawyer, scholar, teacher, and civil-rights activist who became the first tenured African-American professor at Harvard Law School. From 1991 until his death in 2011, he served as visiting professor at New York University Law School. Credited as one of the progenitors of critical race theory (CRT), Bell advocated that individuals adopt a values-centered practice of ethical reflection to navigate the challenges of decision-making in career and life. For more on this book, please check out this C-SPAN2 BookTV interview with the author. The interview begins at 3:07 in the video.