Reverend Leah Daughtry: A Surprising Life in Religion and Politics


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TSC 93: Reverend Leah Daughtry: A Surprising Life in Religion and Politics

Episode Summary

Syd and his guest Reverend Leah Daughtry break all the rules of polite conversation to discuss faith and politics, and why Rev. Daughtry has hope for America’s future. Rev. Daughtry answers questions such as should we raise a red flag when a politician visits a church, how can we believe in God in the face of evil, and how did the Black Lives Matter movement finally break through to the broader community? Get an inside scoop to the Democratic Convention and a friendship with Kamala Harris in this episode of The Sydcast.

Syd Finkelstein

Syd Finkelstein is the Steven Roth Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. He holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Professor Finkelstein has published 25 books and 90 articles, including the bestsellers Why Smart Executives Fail and Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, which LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman calls the “leadership guide for the Networked Age.” He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Management, a consultant and speaker to leading companies around the world, and a top 25 on the Global Thinkers 50 list of top management gurus. Professor Finkelstein’s research and consulting work often relies on in-depth and personal interviews with hundreds of people, an experience that led him to create and host his own podcast, The Sydcast, to uncover and share the stories of all sorts of fascinating people in business, sports, entertainment, politics, academia, and everyday life.

Leah D. Daughtry

Strategist. Organizer-Activist. Author. Public Theologian.

Bishop Leah Daughtry is a nationally recognized organizer-activist, political strategist, author, and Faith leader. She serves as Presiding Prelate of The House of the Lord Churches. Daughtry is Principal of On These Things, LLC, a strategic planning and project management firm that builds and supports partnerships that advance the common good. She is also Co-Convenor of Power Rising, which brings together Black women and girls to leverage their power for the benefit of their communities.

Standing at the intersection of Faith and politics, Daughtry has served as Chief of Staff of the US Department of Labor, and the national Democratic Party, as well as CEO of the 2008 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions, making her the only person in Democratic Party history to hold the position twice.

For her work with communities of Faith, Religion News Service named her one of the dozen most effective Democrats in the Nation on faith and values politics. She is co-author of the NAACP Image Award winning For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics (St. Martin's Press, 2018).

The daughter of a long line of community organizer-activists, Leah represents the fifth

consecutive generation of clergy persons in the Daughtry family. A native of Brooklyn, New York, she is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Wesley Theological Seminary.

Insights from this episode:

  • Rev. Daughtry’s experience as a Black woman attending Dartmouth during the Reagan administration.
  • How Rev. Daughtry keeps her faith in the face of ongoing racial and gender discrimination.
  • The impact that COVID had in spurring on the current racial reckoning in America.
  • Details on the ways scapegoating is dividing America and how focusing on the “other” distracts from the root of our problems.
  • How Rev. Daughtry got the gig of running the Democratic Convention twice.

Quotes from the show:

  • “I sort of tie [community activism] to the church because as far as we were concerned, the community activism was an outgrowth of our faith and our theological understanding of what our role as Christians ought to be.” Leah Daughtry [08:34]
  • “The work that I did in politics, I considered that to be ministry” Leah Daughtry [09:26]
  • “Can you not make your point without attacking people by name, people by race? If your entire political and social construct and political leanings are dependent on you attacking other people as part of the basis for your reasoning and rationale, then that’s problematic.” Leah Daughtry [15:43]
  • “When the history is written, the thing that was the tipping point for all of it was COVID… The pandemic made us focus. We couldn’t escape from all of the things surfacing. We couldn’t escape from COVID. We couldn't escape from the inequities. We couldn't escape from George Floyd. We couldn't escape from Donald Trump. It was in our face in a way that made us say, ok I got to do something.” Leah Daughtry [21:40]
  • “I hope that we will remember. And maybe we won’t all be out with signs, but we’ll be more conscious of the things that we say and the tests and the trials that our neighbors may endure… I think we see them more, and I hope we remember.” Leah Daughtry [26:33]
  • “So if God doesn’t force choice on you in what I believe is the greatest decision-- will you choose a life with God or not-- then God’s certainly not going to force choice on you in terms of the vaccine or the virus or anything else. We have choice and we have agency, and that is the greatest thing about us as God’s creation… We must live with the consequences of those decisions.” Leah Daughtry [40:48]
  • “Our humanity--the way we are designed--is that we hope, we believe… We’re hardwired to hope… that’s the part of God that lives in you.” Leah Daughtry [43:57]
  • “I would tell my younger self to be braver, to be bolder, to be more confident because you know more than you think you know.” Leah Daughtry [56:12]

Stay Connected:

Syd Finkelstein


LinkedIn: Sydney Finkelstein

Twitter: @sydfinkelstein

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Leah Daughtry


Linkedin: Leah D. Daughtry

Twitter: @LeahDaughtry

Facebook: Leah Daughtry

Instagram: @leahdaughtry

Youtube: Leah Daughtry

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