Brianna Gardner shares why leadership skills are so powerful



People of Charlotte, please meet Brianna Gardner, an advisor for the nonprofit organization, Playing for Others (PFO). Brianna is committed to making an impact in Charlotte, specifically by cultivating leadership skills in today's youth.


Now let's get to know Brianna's story!


PFO is big on accountability. How so?


PFO is a place for teens to be teens, make friends and enjoy themselves, even as they’re cultivating resilience and sowing the seeds of self that they’ll carry into adulthood. In our current political, social, environmental and economic climate, we need all people—especially our young folks—to take on the compassionate mantle of responsibility for their world. 


What are the inspirational quotes that you find yourself returning to?


“Someone has to take responsibility for being a leader.” - Toni Morrison


“You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.” - Grace Lee Boggs


How does PFO quantify leadership potential? 


The current culture we all swim in sends a pervasive message that physical age is equal to power, to wisdom, and to the ability to lead. In PFO, we are cultivating a new paradigm: leadership is not dependent on experience, perfection, or performance. 


PFO is cultivating the next generation of leaders, philanthropists, and compassionate human beings.


How do you see youth and leadership fitting together?


I personally believe physical age does not necessarily equal “elderhood;” we see masses of adults without a strong center, acting from places of pain and fear rather than compassionate discernment. Elderhood must begin, actually, in the “springtime” of life— in youth—for wisdom to take root with age. 


PFO cultivates belonging. Please expound upon that.


Teens are empowered to be creative and to be active agents in their community. They understand that their talents, gifts, and who they are matter very much. We create a space for teens to actively explore the substance of who they are and then encourage them to cultivate these gifts. PFO teens know they belong and know they have the power (to use the language of Octavia Butler) to shape change. 


As an advisor, what elevates your own fulfillment?


As an advisor, I have the privilege and blessing of witnessing so many teens unfold and discover themselves, and discover the sheer passion-power that comes from being of service in a way that’s palpable. I’m just stunned by this work and I’m honored to be a piece of this puzzle. 


In what way will today’s PFO experience impact tomorrow?


PFO teens see themselves be the change. Our world has no room for apathy these days. We need leaders yesterday. PFO is creating those compassionate leaders in the present.


Through the core values – Attitude of Gratitude, Acceptance, Accountability, and Action – teens learn to become effective leaders of self and others. These core operating values influence the culture and public image of PFO as a transformational program for teenagers.


Learn more about Playing for Others (PFO), a Charlotte nonprofit, by visiting their website.


“Playing for Others (PFO) provides a space for teens to explore and answer the questions, “Who Am I?” and “How will I give of that?” through programming in Personal Development, Service, and the Arts.

People of Charlotte publishes stories about everyday Charlotteans, Carolinians, and beyond. We celebrate YOUR story because YOU matter. It is our mission to promote inclusiveness, unity, understanding, community, diversity, empathy, inspiration, and compassion.

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Want to share your story with People of Charlotte? Email peopleofCLT@gmail.com to learn more!


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