July 29, 2015

Forest Through the Trees

In my experience in the nonprofit sector, there is little time spent on evaluating the overall cause and effect relationships and the overarching “logic” of why we do what we do.  It is easy to get pulled into the day-to-day operations of an organization and begin losing the ability to see the forest through the trees.  Increasing government regulations, procedures, and policies have created a culture of compliance, defining success as the absence of the “bad.”  “If I don’t get any phone calls from [insert licensing body here] today, I’ve accomplished something,” I have found myself thinking on my worst days.  A fear-based mentality like this results in leaders responding to threats and problems when they surface, rather than thinking proactively and working to create systems that create positive outcomes. My personal challenge is to think outside of the artificial walls that I have erected around me that have led […]
July 10, 2015

Back in School

I recently started attending my first class for my master degree in Nonprofit Management and Innovation and it has been quite an adjustment returning to school after eight years.  The first day I was mistaken for the instructor and found myself surrounded by fellow students who looked like they were still in high school.  The greatest culture shock, however, came once we started diving into the material itself.  I realized how disconnected I have been from the business world, its theories, and corresponding jargon.  Having worked only in the nonprofit industry, I never received any formal training in financials, business management, etc.  Because of this, I have always sought out books and resources to increase my knowledge and ability to do my job effectively.  Sitting in a classroom where I was being exposed to information and knowledge directly applicable to my job was amazing and overwhelming at the same time.  […]
June 24, 2015

Being Ok with Being Yourself

In our neighborhood growing up there was a family that had two sons that both had significant intellectual disabilities.  They were often made fun of by others and generally not treated well, unfortunately at times by even their own family members.  I can remember my parents always being very kind to them, however, and expressing sincere compassion and concern for their well-being.  One of sons would often come by our house to visit and talk, and I wondered how many opportunities he had to do this.  Seeing how he would light up and seem so excited made me believe they were few and far between.  This made quite an impression on me, and was one of the earliest memories I have of learning about people with disabilities and how they should be treated.   Once I entered school, I was picked on quite a bit for being a pretty awkward […]
June 11, 2015

Redefining “disability”

“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” ― Fred Rogers I have always admired the people with disabilities with whom I work because of their amazing ability to live in the moment and find joy in simple pleasures that I often take for granted.  When I was a live-in staff at a group home a few […]