ILA Podcast

Saying What’s True to Us

Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders

with Beth Zemsky MAEd, LICSW 


Scott talks with Beth Zemsky, an organizational development consultant specializing in doing intercultural development with organizations working towards racial justice, social change, and structural transformation.

Quotes from This Episode

“I’m Jewish, and there’s a piece in Jewish mysticism called ‘Tikkun Olam’…Tikkun is ‘to heal or repair,’ and Olam means ‘the world.’ So the quote literally is ‘to heal the world.’ “

“And so this is a super important concept for me…there’s is sort of a perfect crystal of God and godliness in everyone and everything. And when the world was created, that perfect crystal of God was fragmented, in everyone and everything. And our job is to find that perfect crystal of God and godliness in everyone and everything and bring the world back into wholeness…even when somebody is in opposition. And back in the day, it was Anthony Fauci, who was in opposition, who we needed to convince to be a leader on HIV ( it’s funny how things cycle). Even when people are in opposition, they have that little fragment of godliness in them. So it’s never seeing somebody as an enemy.”

“What does it mean to have activism that is centered on love, passion, commitment, and authenticity? And how do I connect with other folks? I talk a lot about the concept of ‘universal design.’ So universal design from the disability rights movement is the idea that if you hold the people who have the least access at the center of your transformational change, you actually create something better for everybody. “

About Beth Zemsky

Beth Zemsky MAEd, LICSW comes to her work out of her continued commitment to engage people in learning activities that move them to understand critical social and cultural issues. Building on best practice approaches, Beth specializes in intercultural organizational development with organizations working towards racial justice, social change, and structural transformation including foundations, non-profits, educational, health, faith-based, and social change organizations. 

Beth has over 35 years of experience working as a consultant, community organizer, psychotherapist, educator, and organizational leader including serving as the principle of Zemsky and Associates Consulting, a psychotherapist at Family & Children’s Service, founding Director of the LGBTQ Programs Office, Supervisor of the Diversity Institute, and Coordinator of Leadership Development & Organizational Effectiveness at the University of Minnesota. 

She also served as former national co-chair of the Board of Directors of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, certified clinical trauma professional, and certified workplace mediator.Beth was chosen to be Grand Marshall of the Twin Cities GLBT Pride, and she was awarded Quorum’s Lifetime Achievement Award and OutFront MN’s Legacy Award for service to the LGBTQ community. In addition, Beth was awarded a Bush Leadership Fellowship to study organizational development of social change organizations, and she was the recipient of the 2016 IDI Intercultural Award for commitment to social justice. 

Host Scott J. Allen

Scott Allen

Scott J. Allen, Ph.D., is the Standard Products—Dr. James S. Reid Chair in Management at John Carroll University. He is an associate professor and teaches courses in leadership, management skills, and executive communication. He is also a communications coach, consultant, author, podcast host, and entrepreneur. For almost two decades, he’s worked with clients to improve their leadership and communication skills. Learn more about Scott here.

About Phronesis

Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders offers a smart, fast-paced discussion on all things leadership. Scott and his expert guests cover timely, relevant topics and incorporate practical tips designed to help you make a difference in how you lead and live.