Posted on February 9, 2022
By Isaiah Thomas Maerz, Adrianna Roach, Amaka Molokwu and KaLien Wylie
Beth Sheffield is a community leader who currently works at the Greensboro Public Library. Sheffield has many career achievements, such as managing over 150 community programs for the library, collaborating with over 65 community partners, and helping grow the library’s Book Discussion Group Program from 14 clubs to over 200 in Guilford County. One of Sheffield’s most recent achievements is receiving a grant from the UNCG-based National Communication Association’s (NCA) Center for Communication, Community Collaboration and Change to help with costs and research for a Greensboro Learning Circles project. According to Sheffield, this project was created to reach out to underserved communities in Greensboro and provide education differently – learner-based rather than teacher-based. As a leader, it is important to help empower those around you who may not have as strong a voice as a leader does, so Sheffield is leading the way with these Learning Circles by promoting intercultural diversity and lifelong learning. One of the best things about Learning Circles is that they can cover any interesting topic.
So far, interest in topics such as job and career is in high demand, as well as racial equity and social justice. The Learning Circles have already had three sessions of the 21-day racial equity and social justice Learning Circle, which is not much of a surprise given the nation’s current state in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic and race relations. An interesting thing about these Learning Circles is how they work: the host of the groups is not necessarily an expert on the topic, so all participants learn together. Sheffield has partnered with a few community organizations to evaluate the community’s needs and use that information to create more programs. Sheffield also uses social media and technology to send out surveys to assess the community’s needs.
Sheffield goes out of her way to ensure the minority community within Greensboro is heard and has the opportunity to learn information that may be more readily available to others. Sheffield commends the library for being very community-driven and attempting to do everything in its power to build more resilient communities. Sheffield strives to transition people into safe environments for learning and developing interpersonal relationships. After the grant is over, she wants to keep reaching underserved communities and keep the Learning Circles going. Sheffield met with some IT professionals on the best way to sustain the project and concluded that instead of buying everyone a cheap laptop that breaks easily, she put her money into quality equipment that has the necessary tools already installed so that anyone can use it when they need it. Sheffield has always been a voice in her community and will continue to use that voice to help others.
Isaiah Thomas Maerz is currently a double major in Communication Studies and Media Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and will graduate in May 2022. Isaiah wrote this piece because it was about a phenomenal leader that we all could learn from. Isaiah believes Beth is very goal-oriented, which greatly inspires him.
Adrianna Roach is a Communications Studies major at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She currently holds a council chair position for the Residential Hall Council. Adrianna has been a leader since high school when she was propelled into a leadership position through JROTC. She wrote this piece because everyone has different experiences when it comes to leadership and she gets the opportunity to share hers.
Amaka Molokwu is currently a senior majoring in Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Amaka believes Beth showcases the true meaning of leadership in the way she helps others and was excited to write this piece on her. Amaka has always been a leader at heart and believes using one’s voice to help others without a voice is very important.
KaLien Wylie is a Communication Studies major at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. KaLien has been a leader all his life, always being the first one to speak his mind and is able to motivate people to be their best. KaLien identifies with the work Beth Sheffield is doing and was excited to write this piece on someone he aligned with so much. KaLien believes in always uplifting those around us.