The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Kate Hilton '99 Presents MLDP Students a Framework for Developing a Public Narrative

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On January 18th, as Hanover was buried by yet another snowstorm, the Management and Leadership Development Program convened for a session on “The Art of the Public Narrative.” Kate Hilton ’99, who is the Principal in Practice for Leading Change at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University and a leadership coach, began the session by recounting her own Dartmouth experience.

Compelled by her experiences on the Environmental Studies Foreign Study Program to Kenya, Hilton relayed how she abandoned her pre-med intentions to embrace her passion for non-profit leadership. Hilton then described the fundamental components of effective public narrative, pointing to her own anecdote as an illustration of the key tenets of powerful public narrative. As Hilton explained, an effective public narrative is defined by “the challenges we faced, the choices we made to overcome them, and the outcome.”

Hilton asked participants to spend some time constructing their own public narrative, and invited Max Gelb ’11 to share his story about the difficulty he encountered in arranging for a pro-Israeli speaker to come to campus. Hilton then showed the group Barack Obama’s “Audacity of Hope” narrative at the 2004 DNC, and led a discussion of the art of non-verbal communication. She asked students to incorporate Barack Obama’s narrative skills and non-verbal cues by breaking down into small groups and practicing their narrative deliverance on each other. Hilton wrapped up the session by asking the group to offer a recap of the qualities of effective public narrative that they learned.

-- Kristen Clifford '13

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences