Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries

Lessons in Fisheries Leadership from an Unconventional Pathway

Christine Moffitt

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874608.ch35

I am honored to be part of this project to share my personal lessons in leadership. Many pathways are available to learn leadership skills, and to understand the diverse approaches to successful leadership that always include listening to others. I have always had a streak of independence that has served me well, as I have undertaken directions that have often held risks. I learned about leadership at an early age, as I had an older dominant brother, and I, more than 4 years younger, was forced to learn important skills to gain any voice in the family. I also had a strong role model in my father, Robert Allen Moffitt, an important leader in the community, and his moral influence on me was strong. His message always emphasized the importance of giving back and helping others as he emphasized how easily we could be in their place. He encouraged his children to follow this principle. His message was most certainly influenced by the experiences he and my mother had in their life. My dad was born in 1908 along the Ohio River. His family, led by his itinerant carpenter-father, moved west with several stops, eventually ending up in Los Angeles, California. My father was the only member of his family to gain a higher education, which required perseverance and grit as he worked multiple jobs to achieve a law degree in 1933 during the Great Depression. In addition, my father served in the Navy in World War II. These experiences influenced my parents and our family’s friends regarding the importance of protecting democracy. I was born immediately post-war among the baby boomers. In the 1950s, my father ran (unsuccessfully) for a congressional seat in California during the time of Helen Gahagan Douglas and other communist-smearing campaigns. As a child, I joined my family walking door to door with campaign materials for his U.S. congressional race. I was heavily influenced by the role and importance of participatory democracy.

My father also joined a law partnership with several Jewish lawyers, something not especially common in early Los Angeles segregated business society. I learned a lot from that cultural exchange and inclusion. The opportunity for cultural exchange did not end with my father’s partners. Los Angeles was, and still is, a melting pot of ethnic and multicultural backgrounds, especially Latino and African-American cultures. Although our communities were somewhat segregated, athletic and leadership exchange programs provided me the opportunity to meet and work with students from diverse backgrounds.