Blog Post

Open Question to Oprah - ATD 2019

Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Dear Ms. Winfrey, 

At the ATD 2018 conference, we were blessed and honored to learn, firsthand, what President Obama believed were the most important elements that guided him within that most important office as the leader of the free world. His words of pursuing “intentionality in change toward our greatest desires,” rather than a professional title, continue to resonate with me and have redefined my approach to my own personal and professional purpose.


A product of unconditional love from a traditional Christian family from the developing world, I am a gay black man who has fully accepted all my identities. I am also a professional with natural talents and skills directed toward the perfection of adult education in social justice and leadership coaching. As such, I believe God's dream for me is to help others set aside the ego—and what Eckhart Tolle refers to as "The Pain Body"—and see us all as connected in reconciling race relations in our hurt world.



As an intentional interviewer, a diligent and conscientious teacher-in-chief, a gracefully polished executive, and a black woman—undoubtedly the most marginalized identity in America, your point of view is valued by millions. You are the personification of contemporary leadership. Owing to this, I have a question for you. Leadership theory suggests that emotional courage is one’s willingness to take risks and “feel all the feels” to push through those risks—ultimately leading to one being the most effective leader possible. What advice would you give to adult educators and trainers with marginalized identities ourselves who are charged with leading cultural progressive change within our own organizations? And how has emotional courage played a part in your becoming OPRAH?

Maurice P. Eckstein, MPA

About the Author

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Maurice’s work is focused at the intersections of LGBTQ rights and leadership development. Most recently, Maurice served developing the leadership of the expansive volunteer network and board of the Human Rights Campaign, complete with social justice and servant-leadership competencies.


Currently, Maurice  has become a PhD candidate for International Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University where he will continue his work on reconciliation efforts of LGBTQ and pan-african identities as they show up in his home country. 


Maurice has led several conference sessions on self-care in social justice leadership at Mandate, DC - a conference catering to the specific needs of gay black men in Washington, DC; been the receipient of several leadership awards at the HRC for special election projects, and self-led fundraising projects in the Caribbean to support LGBTQ homelessness. 


Maurice now resides in Atlanta, GA and is co-chair and founder of his undergraduate's (Pacific Lutheran University) Diversity Alumni Network.



1 Comment
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Hi Maurice, happy 2020!
Here’s hoping this new decade is treating with loving-kindness. So much to catch up on!
I enjoyed volunteering back in November 2016 for TurnOUT the vote weekend in Raleigh, NC. What’s the best way to reach you?
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