What made you decide to apply for The Allstate Foundation Nonprofit Leadership Program?

I applied for The Allstate Foundation’s Nonprofit Leadership Program because I’m passionate about what I do. I’ve experienced moments in my career when I felt like my leadership capability was at its best. The impact that it had on my team and our work felt incredible. Seeing the life-changing effect on the kids we serve was even more incredible. I wanted to participate in this program because I understand the ripple effect of strong leadership and wanted to do everything I can to make a difference for the kids I serve.

What are takeaways from your involvement in The Allstate Foundation program that have helped you develop your leadership skills?

The program helped me develop in so many ways, from boosting my financial acumen to thinking through a new strategy for volunteer recognition. But there were several takeaways that altered my perspective in really important ways.  Here they are:

  • Leadership is an expertise, not an inherent trait. Developing your leadership capability is a process. It requires emotional intelligence, intentionality, relationship building and engaging the hearts and minds of others.
  • The importance of having clarity on the values that matter most to me, and acting consistently with those values in everything do. I learned not to react based on the first thought that enters my mind, but to think through the best way to respond that is in alignment to my values. It was and continues to be a game-changer for me.
  • That effective organizational change is achieved by leveraging the social network, not the organizational hierarchy.

What changes have you made professionally because of participating in The Allstate Foundation Nonprofit Leadership program?

The program gave me the skills and confidence I needed to move into the role of Executive Director. I transitioned to my new role and organization about three months after the program completed and just finished an amazing first year with my new organization. The mentorship and guidance from my coach and peer group coupled with the lessons of the program were essential for me in moving into this role. I leaned on my coaching group, with frequent calls throughout the year. Having such an intelligent and capable group to reach out to has been invaluable.

How have you continued your development of leadership skills since completing The Allstate Foundation program?

The program instilled in me a deep understanding of the never-ending work of being a great leader. The leadership demands of my new role differ tremendously from what was required in my previous organization. My coaching group from the program has been a life-line. Our regular calls, a year-and-a-half later help anchor me and remind me of what I already know. The life-long learner in me has been flipped on, from my weekly listen to the HBR Ideacast to the books lining my shelves. Giving myself the space and time to think and reflect on my leadership keeps me grounded.

What advice for other emerging nonprofit leaders?

Keep pushing to find the best version of yourself. From seeking out feedback (yes, including the scary kind) to journaling to challenging yourself to apply a new leadership concept don’t get too comfortable. We all have different reasons for choosing the nonprofit path, but your mission deserves your very best.

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