Umbreen Bhatti, Director, Athena Center
The through-line of Umbreen Bhatti's career has been helping people tackle, as she says, "big, complex, sticky challenges." As the Director of the Athena Center for Leadership at Barnard College, and in her previous work as a lawyer and Director of the Innovation Lab at KQED, Umbreen looks at these challenges from all perspectives and then zooms out and kicks the tires on the underlying frameworks, paradigms and default assumptions to find new, and better, pathways forward. Umbreen had been at the Athena Center for almost a year when the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in March 2020, and she got her wish: "this is how we've always done it" was no longer an option, and "this can't be done" never was. It was, ironically, a perfect crucible for learning about leadership - which, for Umbreen, meant equipping her students to move forward an uncertain world, and find ways to seize challenges and turn them into opportunities. In this episode, host Shoshanna Hecht talks to Umbreen about how leadership means looking at challenges as new possibilities, and moving beyond them to envision the world we want to live in, and then build it.