Dr. Jill GriffinThe Wendy Davee Award for Service

    Dr. Griffin is the recipient of our Second Annual Wendy Davee Award for Service, which honors alumni/ae who exemplify Wendy’s dedication and spirit of soul tending through service in the community. Founder of Squash Blossom Leadership in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dr. Griffin’s lifelong love of the natural world and its impact on both physical and psychological health lead her to write her dissertation on Animals and Soul: Animals in Native American Mythologies and the Individuation Process. Dr. Griffin has worked with adolescent girls in northern New Mexico for more than eight years, first as a juvenile justice board contractor in Taos, then as the founder of Squash Blossom Leadership. The mission of Squash Blossom Leadership centers around cultivating leadership in the community, “from the inside out.” Dr. Griffin emphasizes that leadership is the possession of each and every one of us, and that it begins with gaining access to one’s own truth and voice. Dr. Griffin welcomes, honors, and includes traditions from the wide variety of cultural backgrounds represented by the girls of Northern New Mexico. Her attention to the individuality of each girl fosters self-esteem, and her lessons in leadership skills enhance the community by teaching the girls how to work together in groups for the greater good, as well as for individual achievement. Working primarily with middle school girls, ages 11-14, Dr. Griffin in the last year has added leadership programs for young women aged 17-19. The girls’ leadership groups meet weekly to develop skills and to learn to navigate the vicissitudes of the teen years. The groups create leadership projects within the school setting. In February of 2014, her “girls’ circle” in Santa Fe planned and hosted an event around the concept of kindness. The girls decided all on their own to create a freestanding door that the students of the school would walk through as they took a pledge of kindness, and then they would add their signatures to a gigantic pledge sheet. (Please see the wording of the Pledge, below.) Over 200 students during one day’s lunch period signed! The entire student body was afforded the opportunity to benefit spiritually and emotionally from this activity planned by the girls of Dr. Griffin’s Squash Blossom Leadership group. Crossing the threshold is, of course, an act that is fundamental to mythic journeys. Dr. Griffin encourages the girls to consider the use of ritual, or ceremony, to mark life changes, focus aspirations, and honor relationships. As Dr. Griffin said in her personal statement to Pacifica Admissions, “In my understanding, myth is about making sense of this world and embodies the mystery.” In addition to the girls’ circles leadership activities each week at school, Dr. Griffin also believes that girls need to exercise and experience the strength of their bodies. Citing Jung, who encourages all of us to maintain contact with the archaic within and the animal self, Dr. Griffin arranges outdoor adventures for the girls, including hiking, rock climbing, rappelling, and camping. While on these trips, the girls put away all electronics and get close to the earth. In collaboration with the Santa Fe Mountain Center, they engage in scary but safe activities to harness the teen need for excitement and for pushing against the edges of breath and life itself. Apart from her work with Squash Blossom Leadership, Dr. Griffin also volunteers her time to the PGI Alumni Association, serving as Regional Coordinator for the New Mexico Pacifica Alumni. Her group has created a Salon series, and they meet and discuss their Pacifica studies, work, and research together regularly. Dr. Griffin represents a glowing example of a Pacifica Alumna’s best work in the world. She enriches her community, leads by example, promotes civic responsibility through the philosophies and concepts she teaches her “girls’ circles,” encourages healthful practices, fosters and exhibits innovative thinking and projects, and most importantly, teaches her girls to embrace all of who they are, to listen to their unique voices while at the same time working together toward the future. Dr. Griffin’s Squash Blossom Leadership work, and her service as a PGIAA Regional Coordinator showcase her commitment to the welfare of teenage girls from all backgrounds, and to staying connected with Pacifica’s principle of tending the soul in and of the world.

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