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

Having recently been hired into a nonprofit with both a local and national footprint and tasked with creating a culture of philanthropy across the organization, I was looking for tools and lessons to inspire!

I have always felt the ability to inspire is the single most important leadership skill. I have seen leaders and their ability to infuse energy, passion, commitment, and connection to an organization’s mission and wanted the skills and knowledge to do so in my own.  The Allstate Foundation Nonprofit Leadership Program afforded me the opportunity to become the inspirational leader for my team and organization needed.

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

Vocational Courage

The very first session of The Allstate Foundation Nonprofit Leadership program was on the “Three Essentials of Inspired Leadership” by Northwestern Professor Dr. Nicholas Pearce; a session that left me deeply moved and reflective.  I found myself asking the question, “Are we using our unique gifts and talents to make the world a better place?” “Are we encouraging those we lead to consider the same and then support them in pursuing their purpose? We must have vocational courage to ensure that we, and those we lead, are in the right positions and in the right organizations to make a difference.

Importance of Comradery

One of the greatest takeaways, and blessings, from my participation in The Allstate Foundation Nonprofit Leadership program is my cohort of 30 national peers, colleagues, fellow leaders and now lifelong friends.  I have been fortunate to have served on several projects in my career which could all be considered high performing teams. But I have never experienced the level of trust, expertise and familiarity that emanated so quickly from this group of phenomenal leaders. Though scattered across the country, I now have a lifelong cohort of colleagues that stand waiting to help advance my career and the mission of those I serve.

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

One of the best tangible benefits to The Allstate Foundation Nonprofit Leaders program was the completion of a personal 360 evaluation that provided multi-rater performance feedback from my peers, supervisors, staff, coworkers and customers.  This feedback provided valuable insight to how others see me and my ability in influence change within my organization. I happily took this data back to my team (and discussed openly) on ways ways I can better communicate and advocate for their needs and those of the organization.  I also used this data to re-organize my department, delegating greater responsibility to team members that had long since shown an aptitude and eagerness for leadership.

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

Due to limited budgets and lofty missions, we as nonprofit leaders are often forced to run before we can walk.  A great benefit to The Allstate Foundation Nonprofit Leadership program was an emphasis on taking the time needed to learn, absorb and reflect.   Professional development is essential to achieving my goals and those of my organization. With resources provided by The Allstate Foundation, I am pursuing professional certification in fundraising (CFRE) to better lead my team and achieve our goals.  Leaders must also serve the community. I have recently joined two local boards that will strengthen my skills, but also benefit the community.

What advice do you have for other emerging nonprofit leaders?

Cultivate Self-Awareness
Take the time to learn who you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are.  Don’t just acknowledge your weaknesses. Take the next step and actively observe how those weaknesses affect your organization.

Learn from Your Role Models
Leadership is tough and scary, but think about great leaders from your past, and emulate those tactics you most appreciated.

Empower Your Staff to Succeed
Step back and let your staff do what they do best. I have found attracting people to our mission is not all that difficult, so my job is to create an environment where they can do their best work, and then get out of the way.

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