5 Questions With: Renzo Arteta
You were Co-Chair of the CLRI 2020 class. How did that experience influence your strategies for creating meaningful experiences within your role as the Training Administrator for LRI?
I have fun when I’m listening, learning, and asking questions – and my CLRI experience gave me the opportunity to join a whole group of eager, talented people to do exactly that while visiting interesting places and ideas each month.
When I became co-chair, along with Rhea Bhatia (CLRI ‘19) I was able to provide input and feedback that the Leadership Development team used to improve the CLRI experience for the next class. Getting to be a co-chair affirmed what I learned the first time I experienced CLRI: the most interesting things happen at the edges of my comfort zone.
I was shocked and excited when I got the call back from LRI for the Training Administrator position, but in retrospect, it makes perfect sense because I get to take what I liked most about CLRI, listening, learning, and asking questions, and do it every day.
Before coming to LRI you were the Community Resource Coordinator at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank during COVID. What gave you hope during that time?
What gave me the most hope was seeing the resilience of people. The toughest thing to be is vulnerable. When we talk about our strengths, we are also acknowledging that there are things that we’re not so good at. People need one another – that is a fact of life.
Working together with a group of people who knew that there was no question that the Food Bank would continue operating to support Rhode Island’s food insecure folks, and immediately pivoted to maximize their output of food to places like food pantries, senior centers, and schools is what gave me hope.
You recently took a trip on your bike across the country and were able to experience life in different states. What keeps you in Rhode Island?
That’s a tough one. It’s so many things. Rhode Island’s flag has an anchor; its motto is Hope. It’s cheesy, I know, but I had way more hope in humanity by the time I returned to Rhode Island than before I left. I saw so many incredible places and met lots of extraordinary people when I was biking home to RI from Washington. I fell in love with so many places along the way but there’s nowhere like Rhode Island.
It’s my family, firstly, and my brother Jacob, always. It’s the big blue bug and the Superman building seen from 95. It’s the old carousel at Rose Larisa Park and First Beach in Newport. Food truck Fridays, Bike Jams, and Pechakucha. Cumberlandite, Lincoln Woods, and the “Rhode Island Desert”. These are a few of my favorite things!
It’s a perfectly bite-sized state that’s packed full of flavor.
You’re heavily involved with the community outside of work at LRI from Young Voices, PechaKucha PVD, and more. How did you get so involved and what gives you the energy to do so much?
I’m passionate about helping people grow and thrive- especially when I get to grow and thrive with them!
I remember asking about what boards are like during one of my early CLRI sessions. After that I thought about how Young Voices empowered me as a high schooler and gave me a push in the right direction, so I wanted to return that favor. Now, as a Board Member, I attempt to do that by empowering the talented and inspirational teens who regularly speak up about education policy that affects them! My time supporting Young Voices is satisfying my soul and teaching me so much as a first-time board member.
Now, about Pechakucha PVD, I totally got roped into it by Chris (LRI’s Director of Communications and Events)! He’s one of my best friends at work and encouraged me to present about my cross-country bike trip at PechaKucha just a few months after I started at LRI. The next month, he asked if I wanted to help set up the speakers. The opportunities kept coming after that. Now, I’m part of the Community Cultivation Committee and a regular co-host with Chris. It’s so much fun to build a space where we celebrate the creativity within our community each month.
I also coach young kids in rock climbing once a week and count myself as my little brother’s personal soccer trainer. What connects all of the experiences for me is that I’m able to find the fun in each one!
What is the most memorable experience you’ve had when discovering your Strengths and helping others discover theirs?
I just did the math, and since I started at LRI, I’ve helped introduce more than 1,200 people to their CliftonStrengths, meeting them through the lens of what they do best. In every single session, I see at least one person realize something very powerful about themselves or make an insight about their organization.
It’s hard to choose a single experience but one that stands out for me is our partnership with Skills for RI’s Future where we provide CliftonStrengths training to students in the PrepareRI Internship Program. By the end of the week-long “bootcamp”, students were more ready to express what gives them energy, what they do well, and how they can bring that to their internships. I’m looking forward to this summer’s strengths “bootcamp” to share this tool with another group of enthusiastic students!
On a personal level, I think the most memorable experience has been the realization that this work is fun for me. I get to do what I do best every day: meet people, and help them see the best version of themselves.