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frick united academy
of language



whats the problem of


The pandemic affected everyone, but not everyone equally. The community at Frick United Academy of Language was feeling in particular, widening gaps created not only by access to technology, but by knowledge of technology too. Many families provided with a laptop were turning one on for the first time.

Made even more challenging was a specific language and literacy barrier with Frick United’s growing Mam population. Without a dedicated Mam interpreter on staff or in the district, this community was not only falling through the cracks -- they were nearly invisible to begin with. Quarantine and distance learning would only compound that.

Aleida and the team believed that distance learning would undoubtedly push many of their families further away, so they needed a strategy and a system to bring them closer, and really see them. So, why not go TO them?







personal leadership:key questions and realizations

How do you position your leadership in this context? In Viet-Ly’s leadership, she is always thinking of others and the good of the group. The embracing of conflict in new ways was challenging. The value of relationships is so important to her identity as a mother and Asian American woman, she found herself carrying the burden of the emotional labor of the work and it was throwing her off her own instincts of how to lead. She began to set boundaries around the responsibility- she committed to gathering the feedback, reflecting, adjusting and then letting go of the rest.

How did this work impact your life?

Engaging in this transformational leadership work with my whole-self made me a better citizen of this world. The work reflecting on my leadership, my noticings of how I care for relationships, my work learning alongside these amazing leaders for social justice have all impacted how I move about the world. It’s really inspirational!


What are the current systems, structures, processes related to this challenge? How are they working in concert? Where are the gaps and needs?

What are the technical needs?

What are the quality of the relationships between the stakeholders nearest this challenge? How do they identify in relationship to the challenge? What are the values, beliefs and mindsets of those involved? 

What are the relational/adaptive needs?

How is the information flowing? Is there two way communication? Is there space to make meaning collectively? 

What's up with information?

What is the equity imperative connected to this challenge? What is creating inequity in relationship to this challenge?

How about equity?

What are the root causes of this complex challenge?

Based on what's happening above and below the green line...

for leaders considering complex challenges



Increasing and overwhelming need created by the pandemic- people had lost jobs and needed many resources for their families. The resources were there, but didn’t always match the need. Aleida and the team did their best to help sign folks up for food distribution and mutual aide funds.

Staff having the language skills for the Mam speaking community was a challenge. Often Aleida would have to try circular translation- English to Spanish, Spanish to Mam, often through a child or another adult. This was not ideal.*


Ms. Aleida stands alongside a long list of dynamic team members, from their community schools managers, counselors, and attendance specialists. With over 4 decades of combined experience within the Frick and East Oakland community, the team prides itself on knowing and serving their neighborhood, by any means necessary.


Engaging, connecting, and understanding families in new and authentic ways. Leveling the power dynamics and strengthening listening practices.


Changing the way people work, both individually and collectively, compounds possibilities for miscommunication, misalignment, and therefore, misdirection towards the goal. That’s a lot to see, hold, and harness.


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