We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristin Moody and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristin, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
bell hooks said, “Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, revelling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.” I always come back to this because it reminds me of how powerful true diversity and connection across difference is. My work is about fostering equity through connection, and those connections are always most powerful when people can find shared values and build community across diverse identities. hooks captures that and helps me to remember that the fear of difference is a lie. My husband is from New Zealand, and there is this dancer from his country I have recently become obsessed with–she is Samoan, raised in Auckland, and she teaches popping and freestyle that is blended with traditional Samoan and polynesian dance. The result is mesmerizing. She dresses in these church hats and long lava lavas and does these moves–I can’t explain. She moves her body and it’s like you can see ancestors from across 3 continents calling to her. It’s so magic. That magic? The willingness to listen to all of those voices? That’s the beauty of empathy across diverse people, and that’s the work I get to do every day–that the magic bell hooks is talking about.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am an empathy scholar, coach, and consultant. What sets our work apart from others is that we are rooted in science. I came to the work of empathy as a doctoral student at the University of Southern California, where I was studying the psychology of sustainable organizational and personal change. When I began to understand how important the biology of empathy is–what actually happens in our body when we connect with others–I began to understand how important that concept is in the work of organizational culture building, leadership coaching, goal-setting, and equity. The word empathy is tough–people either see it as soft or they they see it as something they already have going to for them. I am constantly having to explain to folks that no, thinking you are an empath is not helping you promote equitable policies in your organization. Or believing empathy is some hippie concept is not helping you move your org culture in a way that is going to improve employee retention. So once we get clear on a working definition rooted on science, it all clicks. Organizations are finally starting to move away from the idea that they want everyone to blend in and be the same. Authenticity, true diversity–these are concepts that orgs are finally starting to invest in. And individuals are coming to me to find their voice–strategies to connect with others, strategies to be their authentic selves. All of these ideas feel really important to people right now. It’s all very timely. It’s exciting to see an organization’s culture shift because they have changed policies that were alienating people; it’s exciting to see a leader grow because she has discovered how to be authentic in her presence and how that impacts her recruitment. It’s a really exciting time to do this work.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have kids, so a lot of where we go is going to be kid-friendly: we would start with taking in some of the murals on Wylie and Estoria in Edgewood and Cabbagetown and check out the Krog Street tunnel before grabbing some snacks at Krog Street Market and head up the beltline on skateboards–end the trip by checking out the rooftop on Ponce City Market. We’d end the night with to-go food from Mamak (Malaysian) on Buford Highway or Mushi Ni (Asian Fusion) in the We Suki Suki food court in East Atlanta and a movie. Since the pandemic, we have really enjoyed renting out an AMC theater for us and just a few friends to see a classic movie for $99. To have a whole theater with comfy seats split between a handful of folks in masks has been cheaper than the movies used to be, and that’s been a fun Friday night. When the weather is nice, we also still love the Starlight Drive-In–take a few fold-up chairs or bean bags and the to-go food and some blankets, and it’s a perfect night.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Across my career, I have continued to be inspired inspired and encouraged by people whose excellence informs the world around us and makes Atlanta Influence Everything. Dr. David Wall Rice of the Identity, Art, and Democracy Lab, whose research and examinations of identity have constructed revolutionary new understandings and who has impacted a generation at Morehouse; Dr. Angela Dash, a training facilitator and coach, who is fearless and gifted at unearthing skills, visions, and blindspots in her clients with a surgeon’s precision; David Jernigan, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Atlanta, who is a passionate leader whose commitment to the youth of Atlanta has changed the landscape of this city over the past 20 years; Angela Harris, founder and Executive Director of Dance Canvas and a true arts champion who connects people across the city and get things done. There are countless others in this city that inspire me every day by being geniuses who model integrity, excellence, and artistry: Neda Abghari, curator for Midtown Alliance, Dr. Fahamu Pecou, artist and arts thought leader; Okorie Johnson, OK Cello (cellist); Damita Howard, stunt woman and actress; Bem Joiner, Atlanta Influences Everything. This city is filled with people who lift me up, inspire me, and without whom, I could not do what I do.