Muddy Boots 2.0

Waer Muddy Boots 

Muddy Boots 2.0 Blog


Leadership Thoughts:

Wear Muddy Boots

Be Intentional in how you spend your time.

Make it safe for folks to name the elephants.

Your personal brand is everything, as in what do you stand for and how do you stand. 


This is your time.

Find the pain and fix it.

It is all about your crew. Talent Matters

Be calm, be consistent, care, and always be a coach.

Legacy in the end is how we will be measured. 




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Events of 1/6/21

Posted by on January 6, 2021 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Tonight I hold in prayer the nation.

Tonight I hold in prayer the people of the nation.

Freedom, Equality, Justice, Democracy are not idle concepts.

They are bedrock fundamental values.

When we behave this way we put these values at risk and

in turn our families, our neighbors, and ourselves.

We also put at risk the stranger we do not know who could be family, neighbor, or us but for the grace of God.

The time for silence is over, the time for accountability is long overdue. It is time to put Grandchildren over greed.

Yesterday we saw the power of a free and fair election, just as we saw in November. A vote is a voice. It is priceless and unique.

Freedom, Equality, Justice, and Democracy demand discourse and the rule of law.

They also demand equal accountability and equal buy in in order to thrive from the people.

Pray for the nation, but not in silence.

Pray for a time when access to opportunity and justice is available to all, but not in silence.

"All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. All that is needed for the forces of evil to succeed is for enough good men to remain silent."

We are better than this. Speak Up.

Human Services

Posted by on December 17, 2020 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)


“We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, and others will stand on ours. Let our shared legacy be that even in the darkest of days, ECS gave light to the darkness and answered with our full measure the call to service. There will always be fires, and we will always respond.” (150th remarks)


One of my favorite quotes with attribution to St Francis is “Preach the gospel and sometimes use words.” As I reflect on the year that has been 2020, my thoughts are very much with the people we serve at ECS and my colleagues that I have the privilege of working with as together we challenge poverty. Without fanfare, they answer the call every day. They run to the fire, and with few words but deep and resilient actions, they work to positively move the lives of individuals, families, and communities.


The call to service runs deep. I am humbled that individuals who could be doing almost any profession choose this field, moreover, not just at ECS, but throughout our City, Region and Country, answering the call to service at agencies and institutions, all dedicated to lifting the human spirit. I am humbled and grateful for their service. I can honestly say that I had no idea of the challenges and the issues before I took on this work. Now almost eight years in, I understand what one means when one speaks to an individual’s full measure. You know who you are and have my admiration, respect, and commitment to do all I can to help answer the call.


We are stronger together. If nothing else, history tells us that we do not win battles on the edges, but in the middle ground where the work is deep and messy. To do the job well, we need to collaborate and not compete, and we need to expect and drive real impacts; we need to adapt as the field changes. Above all, we need to look with clear eyes and an honest heart and acknowledge we can do better. If we measure progress, one individual, one family, and one community at a time, and we hold leadership and ourselves accountable for real and sustainable impacts, real change is possible.


Besides, if we are smart, we will listen to the folks on the front line and the people they serve, close to the action, doing the work, and moving the needle. They understand the roadmap for change.


You can “do,” or you can talk. I respect the folks who “do.”


Thank you for your service.


Dave Griffith is the executive director and head coach at Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia.


"Our Nation turns its lonely eyes to you"

Posted by on November 8, 2020 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

2020 has been dark, even in the bright days of summer.

But even amid darkness, we have seen rays of light and hope.

Shift changes at medical centers at the height of Covid. Horns honking and individuals cheering and clapping as doctors and nurses came and went about their round changes. With 220,000 deaths and climbing, we see births, marriages, virtual graduations. With record unemployment and shutdowns, we see businesses reinventing and finding new ways to make a buck.

We have a long winter ahead and many, many challenges to overcome. This week seemed incredibly daunting as funding cuts and revenue loss drive hard decisions in many businesses, including my own agency. Racial inequity, very much in the news, impacts many of our participants and employees. On top of it, the election was on all our minds. We were going into Philadelphia, and Paul Simons classic came over the radio.

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon

Going to the candidates' debate

Laugh about it, shout about it

When you've got to choose

Every way you look at this you lose

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you

Woo, woo, woo


And the radio broke in for an announcement that Joe Biden, a different Joe, had carried Pennsylvania and was now President-elect. We turned onto to 6th street by Independence Hall. The mall was filled with people, cheering and waving signs and flags. Through the City, you head honking and cheering. Frankly, it was good to feel democracy working.


Yes, we are in dark days, with a nation divided and perhaps on the brink. Leadership matters and we need to heed Lincoln's words that a house divided cannot stand, let alone beat a pandemic, or play on the world stage. Nevertheless, one can only hope that a leadership change will bring hope, healing, tolerance, and mutual respect back into our national discourse. Can we learn that our self-interest starts with our neighbors?


We may disagree on many things, but let us decide that a healthy, growing American that can lift all boats with equal opportunity and equal justice is worth looking past our differences and finding common ground. It is time for all of us to answer that higher call. Throughout the City Saturday, and in the President-elect remarks that night, I heard a call to service and a willingness to listen and find common ground. I pray that the call is answered by all of us, both Red and Blue. There is a reason it is "We the People."


Indeed Mr. President, Mr. President-elect, and all of our elected leaders,


Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.


Please lead all of the nation.



Posted by on September 15, 2020 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

With a few weeks until 11.3.2020, I thought it appropriate to frame the issues and what is at stake against one of my go-to bedrock quotes.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt, Citizenship in a Republic.

We are clearly at an inflection point, and I fear we are missing the point. It is not a battle for the left vs. the right, liberal vs. conservative. Instead, it is a battle for what does America stands for regardless of the party in power. The issue is, what are the core values that we stand for and live for as a nation, and are they valid and actual for all Americans? The question that needs an answer is what are the non-negotiable fundamentals and the true rule of law for all of our citizens.

In the work that we do, we have a vision. It is a world where access to opportunity is available to all, as in the opportunity for health care, for housing, for education, for training, for employment at a living wage, for equal protection, and a safe environment. To be clear, it is access to the opportunity. What one does with opportunity is fundamental to where one lands. The way out of poverty is a job at a living wage. How do we level the playing field and create access for all is the core question?

The America I am committed to fighting for is one where access and equality are genuinely available to all Americans. It should never be an issue of party politics. It should be fundamental to our DNA as a nation. The challenge is how do get more of us into the arena, to not only call for change but to make it happen.

As TR eloquently stated, it is a worthy cause well worth the fight. May we have less cold and timid souls.


Will we do more?

Posted by on August 16, 2020 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

My daughter takes about CV19 in terms of the “before” time, the “now” time, and the “after” time. The “now” time has all of our attention, frustration, and hope. At ECS, we are working to deliver essential services at our shelter and emergency housing, and getting ready to staff our Out of School Time program in the Fall to support the City and School District as Philadelphia children go back to school virtually. Plans are underway to provide pods of 25 throughout the city to ensure children are safe, learning, and working parents can work. Our other vital services we are delivering virtually and in some ways, because of time and place challenges, more effectively. Our transformational programs based on the best available brain science that coach individuals have at their roots, helping individuals learn to problem solve. If ever there was a time to build this skill, it is now. We continue to grow these programs and collaborate with other agencies to deliver these services. For more information, see and specifically MindSet.

However, what about the “after” time. Against the new realities of finally calling out and acknowledging systematic racism on a national scale, will we do more? Against the record unemployment in black and brown neighborhoods, when PPP fades and other temporary measures end, will we do more? With the genuine possibility of a lost school year and higher education looking at a dramatic shift in both delivery and expense, will we do more? With poverty, sure to rise, will we do more? Will we value our essential workers differently, will we do more? Will we use the resources, time, talent, and treasure of our nation to raise all boats, to create new jobs, will we do more? To say it once more, will we put grandchildren over greed?

I recently joined several individuals to write an op-ed laying out one possible direction. The 5 Rs — Recognition, Recovery, Reimagining, Reform, and Resilience — are the blueprint for a new dialogue, a strategic path forward that includes all of us. To read the full article see


We will get through the “now” time. It is the “after” time that concerns me. For many, the path to prosperity just grew significantly harder and steeper. If history is any indication, many of us will look inward, and we will turn inward. We are at a pivot point that affects us individually, but also our children and our wider community of all our families and children.


There can only be one answer to the question, “will we do more”?


It has to be “Yes,” and it has to be all of us.


On 11.3.2020, our vision for America has to be one for all Americans. Leadership matters. Especially ours.


On the Water

Posted by on July 7, 2020 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I am up to my wader belt in sixty-degree water. The sun is dancing on the surface, and the ripples are in and out of shade from the overhanging trees. A short waterfall is on my left, and a deep pool is in front of me and runs along the far bank on my right. I am casting a six weight rod and line with a caddis and sinking green nymph set up. For me, this is about as good as it gets.


I get a rise in front of me at about 35 feet. Then a second. I cast and lay the fly about a foot in front of the last rise. The indicator starts its drift in the current. I can't feel the line, but the cork does its job and disappears with a hit. I lift my rod sharply and set the hook.


I reel in the excess line and start the dance. The fish runs for the bottom, then turns, then breaks the surface. We do these steps three or four times, each time I can bring in more line. As the fish tires, I get my net and look to bring the fish over its submerged opening.


The fly is barbless, as we fish catch and release, and for a second I let the line slack. In a flash, the fish spits the fly and is gone.


The pool grows still again. The waterfall the only sound. I check the fly, strip some line and cast back into the moving foam of the falls.


It does not matter if I catch a fish. It only matters that the soul restores in the attempt.


Prayer takes many forms.


That is the beauty of fishing.



"There is no try, only do or do not"

Posted by on July 5, 2020 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I have not posted for a while.

Like many, I find myself caught in the arc of history and the times.

Our plans and preparation for the future now requiring a redrafting.

We are not a “remote” culture, but Teams and Zoom are our new office.

In my current work in nonprofit social services, the rules are changing. Some because they have too and some because they can. I know it is not just our sector.

None of us can sit and watch. We must do. Moreover, we must do together on the big issues.

Therefore, what is the punch list?

1. 11.3.2020 vote. Fight to protect your and others right to vote.

2. Vote 11.3.2020. It is where accountability starts.

3. Wear your damn mask, go long on hand sanitizer, 6 feet means 6 feet. Science matters.

4. As a leader, confirm your Mission, Vision and Values, what is your North Star? Is it valid?

5. If it is in these times, double down. If not, reload and accept change. Drive it. Quickly.

6. I suspect we all call for racial equity in America, what are you doing to make it real? Are you getting help so you drive real change?

7. Care for your team, care for your clients, care for yourself. See #6.

8. Communicate the truth; its absence sows fear and discomfort.

9. Learn from these times, reality has never been sharper. Know your data. Forecast, as time and insigt are a gift. Nimble is how you survive. Talent, Data, and Assets are your levers. Know and manage all three. Know reality and shape it where you can, adapt where you cannot.

10. Every day, do your job. Move towards your North Star. Your team, your customers and clients, count on it. Not everyone has the assets to make it through a crisis. Keeping people employed and moving forward is job one. The team delivers the mission.

You may never have the opportunity to make a bigger difference than you do now.

To quote, “There is no try, there is only do or do not”




It is Time

Posted by on May 29, 2020 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I have been thinking hard about recent events and how to respond as both as an agency focused on the issues of poverty in our community and as a father and citizen.

I have long held the belief that our values frame us. Not just what we say they are, but how we live them.

Our values at ECS, as I have written about before, are dignity, justice, community, and impact. I recently wrote about how CV-19 has ripped off the covers on the issues of equity in our communities and wide gaps in our society. Much of our work at ECS focuses on addressing these gaps with individuals and communities impacted by poverty.

The recent news highlights the racial inequity in America. While I do not know the specifics of each case, the ongoing trend and response is alarming and confirms what many of my black and brown colleagues have told me and what I have witnessed in our work. Let us note the events in Minneapolis with George Floyd are not new and that alone should get our attention. One would have to be blind not to see our history, root causes, and note the consequences of doing nothing to change our trajectory.

As a father, I hear the concern in both participants and employees who are parents' voices; as a father, I fear for the youth we serve, as I would worry for my children. However, as the leader of a 150-year-old social service agency that holds the values of dignity, justice, impact, and community, I also have to call for action. The baptismal covenant in our tradition asks if you will respect the dignity of every human being, not some, but every. The conditions that spawn this violence find their root cause in poverty and racism and result in the long-term disparity in America over access to opportunity.

We condemn the use of violence, and we call for us to step back from the brink, breathe, and name the real problems here, especially in a pandemic and economic disruption that has raised so clearly the differences in America. We acknowledge that we are all afraid, but I know fear is best met if we are all together. Let me emphasize the "all." As I have said before, self-interest starts with your neighbor—all your neighbors.

Let us use our resources to ease the short-term pain. Then let us use the events of late to trigger a collective and aggressive response to the economic disparity and racial inequity that divide us as a nation and as humans. Let our values be more than words.

"You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again." Ben Franklin

Time is not on our side.



Week 10

Posted by on May 17, 2020 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

So today starts week ten of stay at home for Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. At this point, we are all beginning to realize that we are never going back to pre-March 13th.

We have some choices. We can move into our darkest places and shut down, or we make our new future state work—some choices.

1. Leadership, we have an election coming up. I suggest you vote. Think about the proper role of government in our lives.

2. Health, I appreciate the thought behind the open up movements and individual freedom, but I note there is not much freedom for the 86,000 Americans who have died and their families. Let us balance the risk and the reward.

3. The economy, first see point 1, and we need to draw on our innovative spirits and recreate business that works in this environment and keeps people safe and employed. See point 2.

4. Equity, might be a good idea to define and value essential jobs differently.

5. Equity again, it might be a real good idea to look at the impact CV-19 is having on all our different populations and look at root causes, and once and for all address. Education and new economy skill development, housing, a living wage, access to health care would be the four I would want to understand and support fundamental changes in our current approaches. Again, see point 1.

6. Transformation. The business model has fundamentally changed, and we need to make sure as our economy converts, we support workers caught in the transition. Retail vs. on-line, travel vs. stay at home, hospitality, education vs. on-line. The economy will always need consumers, and the new economy will need workers. Thinking through how to balance these two trends will be critical as we transform.

7. Stay at home vs. office. Some old attitudes will need to change, and we will need to embrace a different working model. Good for some employees, not all. Coaching and management will need to adapt. Essential on-site work will need to be fairly valued.

8. Preparedness. We got caught, and we should not have. Infrastructure matters, as does science. See point one. Let us invest wisely. We have oil reserves. We have FEMA, and we need to be able to respond when the next pandemic hits. It is not as if we did not have a warning. On this point, both Fox and MSNBC agree. We can also prepare a thoughtful response to the economy and have support systems, like unemployment, that can handle a surge.

Out of every crisis comes lessons.

I hope, so does learning and actions.

I have found that the light is so much better than the dark.

Note, you have to turn on the light. See point 1.


A Time to Rise, Again

Posted by on May 15, 2020 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” –Albert Einstein


Poverty is pervasive, persistent, and painful. It is complex and cruel in its scope. It impacts society on many levels. Both the individuals and families experiencing hardship directly, and the opportunity costs to all of us. In my tradition, the gospel calls us to acknowledge poverty and to meet it with intention and resources. For many our response to that call, while filled with good intent, does not fundamentally change the trajectory of those living in poverty. One could argue that much of our current public policies share the same attribute. The impact of our actions does not change; long term the lives of people in poverty. Does it bring comfort, perhaps, does it save lives, at times, but does it at its core attack the root cause of poverty and drive change. The stark, data-driven, answer is no.


The social service sector, along with government safety nets, has been the backstop to those in poverty. Poverty in American in the 1960s was 15% of the population. Today 60 years later, unadjusted for inflation, it remains essentially the same. If one looks at the living wage, the numbers are significantly higher. Some argue poverty is a human condition and that the poor have always been with us, an interesting perspective unless you are the one experiencing hardship. No reasonable person can make the case that poverty is good for America. The question is who and how to address the challenge it represents to all of us? Clearly, the approaches and attitudes of the last 60 years are not working.


Imagine an America where the 30-35 percent of Americans living below a living wage and likely drawing on the social safety net is no longer doing so. Imagine the impact on growth, individual and corporate taxes, crime, families, and our overall quality of life. Imagine an America where full employment comes at a living wage, and a skilled workforce drives investments in infrastructure, new technologies, and innovation across any number of critical needs. Imagine an America where opportunity is available to all and that the engine of change is a living wage job and a self-determined life, not by circumstances, but by choice and a real available opportunity and path to economic mobility.


There is a Movement in America of individuals and organizations that believe this dream is real and reachable. A Movement that draws on Einstein’s observation that big problem requires bigger ideas. Ideas that challenge the status quo while drafting off the opportunity and uniqueness of a diverse, innovative, and courageous America.


At its core, the Movement requires that government, corporations and individuals come together and make the ending of poverty in America a national priority. A Movement that believes the opportunity to advance one’s self is available to all and that opening that door is an obligation on all of us. The Movement is the belief that economic mobility is not a redistribution of wealth, but the creation of wealth through innovative public policy and incentives to create living-wage jobs while lowering the need for the social safety net. By matching investments in education and training to employment in the new economy that address infrastructure, technology investment, innovative new markets, and the environment. Jobs that provide a path out of poverty and creates a new generation of consumers and contributors.


The Movement will also require leadership that thinks big and bold and is willing to take on the old ways. It will need a consensus of voters, markets, and the private sector to take the long view. It will require us to view that maintaining individuals and families in poverty is no longer acceptable and that fundamental changes require investment, time, and a long-term generational commitment. A belief that the way out of poverty is a job at a living wage and that opportunity is indeed available to all.


I believe we are at the tipping point. As Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” One need not look far to see and feel the divide in our country, and long term intergenerational poverty is perhaps our worst/best example. We are not far from social unrest and with it all of the consequences.


We have a choice. We can continue as we are, and the problem will not change or we can look to our better nature and say enough. Let us hold leadership accountable at every level of government and the private sector. Vote at the ballot box and as consumers. Get educated on the issues and look for the long term, innovative programs and policies that can scale, drive real change, and support them. Support them with your vote, your Visa, and your voice. Be courageous and call for change. If you are in leadership, lead. If you can volunteer, volunteer. Put grandchildren ahead of greed.


Let us go to the next level and let us go now!


It is time to rise above.


Dave Griffith is the Head Coach at Episcopal Community Services, where they are part of the Movement using innovative brain-based science to coach individuals towards and to economic mobility and advocating for public policies that drive the same agenda. ECS employees some 175 professionals and works with some 2000 participants and 300 volunteers through its various programs.


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