From the Director, February 2015

Jan Levy, 02/20/2015

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the challenges of running a small non-profit. In many ways it's not unlike running a small business. You are always strapped for resources, you have to do everything from setting the big vision to running the copy machine, and when push comes to shove, the buck always stops with you.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the challenges of running a small non-profit. In many ways it's not unlike running a small business. You are always strapped for resources, you have to do everything from setting the big vision to running the copy machine, and when push comes to shove, the buck always stops with you.

As non-profit leaders, one of our biggest challenges is holding on to great staff. We hire smart, capable, committed people, but as small organizations, we can't offer them the high salaries, growth opportunities, or the same kinds of benefits they can earn in the private sector. People outside of our organizations see how effective our staff members are and how hard they work, and hire them away from us. 

Such was the case for LT at the end of November, when we reluctantly said goodbye to Elizabeth Schoenfeld. Elizabeth did an amazing job for LT, and while we hated to see her go, we were pleased for her when she accepted a new opportunity at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers). Fortunately, we hired a wonderful new staff person, Megan Rudolph, who you'll all get to know over the next several months. Megan started in January and it's been "baptism by fire" ever since. A Challenge Day in her first week on the job, an alumni event during her second week, our Board of Directors retreat during her fourth week and our Mid-Year Race Retreat the following week - nothing like diving into the deep end of the pool!

Those of us who work in the non-profit sector are known to be "mission driven." That must be true since we are clearly not driven by stock options or high salaries, and we work at least as hard as our private sector counterparts! The opportunity to work in the non-profit sector is an incredible gift. I'm reminded of that gift regularly when someone from the private sector pays me a visit and says "I don't want to work at 'X-company' anymore. I want to have a job where I can make a difference in the world like you do!" Little do they know how hard the work is, but no matter how challenging, I feel privileged to work in a sector that feeds my soul.

My leadership journey has been a huge opportunity to learn more about what it means to be a Servant Leader. It means removing the obstacles that prevent others from doing their best job, whether they are staff or volunteers. It means making room for new ideas brought by others. It means taking most of the blame and giving others most of the credit. And finally, it means staying out of the spotlight and leading the applause.

With that, I want to lead the applause for LT's Senior Leadership Director, Sue Bennett, who has had to do "double duty" since Elizabeth's departure, welcome Megan Rudolph one more time, and thank all of you for allowing me to continue serving the best community leadership program in the country. So many of you, including my non-profit colleagues, make a difference in our community every day, and I salute you. You lift my spirit, lighten my step, and encourage my soul.