December 31, 2015

On Change, Both Personal and Professional

The new year is nearly upon us!   As 2015 comes to a close, I reflect back on the past twelve months both personally and professionally.  If I had to sum it all up in one word, it would be “change.” In May 2015, I got married to Melissa, and I am happy to report the first six months of our marriage have been wonderful!  A week after returning from our honeymoon, I began my master’s program at University of Missouri – Kansas City.  I am on target to finish my degree in Nonprofit Management and Innovation in the next two years.  Best of all, I have found the classes I have taken thus far have been directly applicable to my work for Open Options and have already made me a better leader.  I am looking forward to learning even more in the next year and continuing to grow in my […]
December 15, 2015

Wisdom from the Field: Real-Life Advocacy Lessons

Guest blog by Heather Jewell, director of quality enhancement Being an Advocate I frequently find myself saying I should write a book. This of course is in reference to the numerous unintended lessons I’ve learned throughout my career supporting individuals with differing abilities and their support employees.  The most important lesson I have learned to date is how to advocate. Simply defined advocacy is the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. My personal definition is to fight like hell for what a person wants and/or needs. However, William Faulkner is more eloquent in his definition, stating, “never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the Earth.” Holly had an incredible sense of humor, and the spirit of a diva. She relished the moments she […]
October 10, 2015

Emotions and the Happiness Advantage

Recently I have had the opportunity to learn more about the concepts of emotional intelligence and positive psychology.  Research has pointed to the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, even suggesting it is more important than IQ.  In a workplace such as ours, emotional intelligence is critical to a person being successful.  In particular, our emotional states can either positively or negatively affect those around us.  As Goleman states, “Emotions are contagious. We’ve all known it experientially. You know after you have a really fun coffee with a friend, you feel good. When you have a rude clerk in a store, you walk away feeling bad.”  Research shows that a team performs at a high level when the ratio of positive to negative interactions necessary is at least 2.9013.  This means every three positive comments, experiences, and expressions fend off the effects of one negative.  The higher the ratio, […]
September 24, 2015

The Learning Curve

In our industry, we are experiencing a significant transition in multiple organizations, as many Executive Directors are retiring and are tasked with finding their replacement.  If this is not handled well, it can create a significant leadership void in any organization.  At Open Options UCP, I was very fortunate to have worked for the organization in the Director of Community Living role for three and a half years under Bruce Scott, our former President/CEO.  In that time, I was able to increase my knowledge base of the Community Living program, our largest program, while also learning some new skills specific to the President/CEO position.  Stepping into the role in March 2014, I knew it would be a learning curve.  What I have found is this position is unlike any other I have ever held. In their recent book “The Executive Director’s Guide to Thriving as a Nonprofit Leader” Mim Carlson […]