Are you a leader or an aspiring leader who truly cares about your organization, people and culture? Then this podcast is for you! We bring you educational, enlightening interviews with today’s most innovative, inspirational leaders. Each episode is filled with inspiring stories, new perspectives and invaluable tools to help you communicate, innovate and lead even more successfully!
Ep 27 - Leadership in Times of Crisis with Tonia Wellons, President & CEO, Greater Washington Community Foundation
“We need to mobilize resources where they're most needed so we can bring up everyone to the same level of thriving.”
Tonia Wellons is a fan of the African proverb "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together." Except during the COVID crisis, Tonia has moved lightning-fast AND together, by galvanizing dozens of philanthropic organizations to drive unprecedented levels of coordinated resources to the most vulnerable of communities. She is brilliantly leading the strategic, focused efforts of Washington-area funders to mitigate the disproportional pandemic impact on communities of color.
Tonia is intentional about leading a long-term, deep, systemic transformation in the world, starting with our community. And she is just getting started!
What you'll learn
How Tonia’s perspective as a leader has been influenced by historical, family and geographic factors, bridging generations and geographic boundaries - from ancestors in slavery to rural, community-focused upbringing, to work spanning the globe and social justice arenas. Why reflecting on history-defining events and people - from Doug Wilde to Rodney King to Nelson Mandela to George Floyd – compel her quest for social justice and hopeful perspective that light will emerge from darkness. How the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted inequities and disproportional impact on communities of color. Gifts and challenges of collaborating across philanthropic organizations and priority areas. Why Tonia and her colleagues have prioritized COVID giving in areas of: food security, domestic and community violence, legal services, medical care and access, housing and homelessness, education and education and youth. Reasons it’s crucial to support leaders of color whose organizations are consistently underfunded. Tonia’s perspective on how this crisis is different due to current cultural, governance, and democracy failures underpinned by racial inequities. Why police reform needs to become a focus in every jurisdiction. What each of us can do to contribute to the much-needed transformation in our country. And so much more! Links & Resources
Greater Washington Community Foundation – amazing organization Tonia leads. Leadership Greater Washington - fantastic organization for leaders in the D.C. area Tonia and I belong to. Books, articles and videos referenced: Affirmative Action is a tool for Racial Equity, Tonia Wellons “The Case for Reparations”, Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates How to Be an Antriracist, Ibram Kandi White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo Color of Law, Richard Rothstein Nonprofits Led by People of Color Win Less Grant Money With More Strings (Study), Jim Rendon TED talks to help understand racism in America About Tonia Wellons
Tonia Wellons is the President & CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, the largest public foundation in the Greater Washington region. The Community Foundation's mission is to Build Thriving Communities by galvanizing philanthropy and investing locally to maximize community impact. Our vision is for a more equitable, just, and thriving Greater Washington for all, and especially for those who have been systematically marginalized in our region. Leading an organization with a staff of 30, $335 million in assets under management, and $60 million in annual grants, Tonia oversees the day-to-day business of the organization, serves as chief development officer, and works with the Board of Trustees and staff to determine the strategic priorities of The Community Foundation. Tonia has successfully launched and led programmatic and development efforts for several key initiatives at The Community Foundation, including VoicesDMV, the Resilience Fund, and the Partnership to End Homelessness. She also has purview over all grantmaking, community engagement, and strategic partnerships.
Prior to joining The Community Foundation in July 2016, she served as a political app
Ep 26 - The Dance of Leadership with Princess Mhoon, Founder & Director, PMDC
“Creativity is something we all possess and tapping into it helps us live our best lives.”
Princess Mhoon is truly a wonder-leader: an award-winning choreographer, educator, entrepreneur and scholar all in one! Her artistic brilliance was sought out by the While House and Michele Obama; her work commissioned by the Kennedy Center and she’s been called "A visionary of her generation!" In this dynamic, enlightening interview you’ll hear her amazing story of growing up in Chicago as the daughter of artists and granddaughter of entrepreneurs; how she artfully integrates art and business; her insights for dealing with the the most challenging circumstances and people with grace, respect and power; and so much more!
What you'll learn
A wonderful story of how growing up as a daughter of artists in Chicago influenced Princess’s personality, artistic life and professional direction as an adult How her trailblazing, financially savvy grandparents helped develop her entrepreneurial side Artful (pun intended!) ways Princess utilizes and integrates both parts of her experience - artist and entrepreneur – in her life and work Inspiring story of how Princess redefined her identity and self-value after a difficult divorce Obstacles she has faced as a double minority - an African American woman - in business and ways she has learned to overcome them How Princess balances love, respect, grace and assertiveness when dealing with difficult people and situations Her aspiration to find a managing director (do apply within) to run her art organization to focus on being an artistic director Valuable advice to young entrepreneur, women and leaders facing challenges And so much more! Links & Resources
Princess Mhoon Dance Institute – link to Princess’s amazing organization Leadership Greater Washington - fantastic organization for leaders in the D.C. area Books we discussed and recommended in this episode Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci by Michael Gelb Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey About Princess Mhoon
Princess Mhoon is a choreographer, producer, educator, and scholar recognized in 2015 by HUFFINGTON POST as one of 26 Female Choreographers "You Should Know" and Dance Magazine's 2006 "Top 25 to Watch" in the world for the Women's Choreography Project titled This Woman's Work. Mhoon is a second generation artist and entrepreneur who has set her sights on enhancing the artistic landscape of the Nation’s Capitol. In 2016 she was invited to participate as one of the region's leading dance leaders by First Lady Michelle Obama during her Celebration of Black Women in Dance; she also served as a panelist for The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans during Women's History Month.
Mhoon is also a 2015 Helen Hayes Award Nominee for Best Choreography in a Musical, a Helen Hayes winner for Best Musical, and one of 37 International artists invited to Lusaka, Zambia for solo performance and master classes at the 2015 Barefeet Theatre Festival for vulnerable youth sponsored by UNICEF. She is also a 2016 class member of Leadership Greater Washington.
With work commissioned by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the DC Jazz Festival, Princess Mhoon has been called "A visionary of her generation." She is the Founder and Director of the Princess Mhoon Dance Institute with locations in DC and Maryland. Mhoon has served on faculty at Howard University, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and a Master of Arts degree in Public History. Her research focuses on Dance History and the African-American experience in dance. In 2015, she was awarded the Owen Dodson DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI award from her Alma Mater.
A native of Chicago, Illinois, she began her training with Alyo Children's Dance Theatre, Joseph Holmes Dance Studio, and Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago. Mhoon Cooper has received nume
Ep 25 - Leadership for a Better World with James Kenefick, Chairman & CEO, BetterWorld Telecom
“Beginning with the end in mind is always the key.”
If you want to meet a modern Renaissance man, you must hear Jim Kenefick’s interview! Somehow he simultaneously embodies a brilliant entrepreneurial mind, save-the-world convictions, relentlessly adventurous spirit and heart-centered mindfulness. Jim is passionate about his company’s capacity to make a difference - through its socially responsible orientation, client services and internal culture. He collects experiences, reads voraciously, ideates continuously and learns unceasingly from everything that crosses his path. It’s such a dynamic, inspiring conversation, you don’t want to miss it!
What you'll learn
How growing up in New England with a "wooden spoon" shaped Jim’s character What life experiences helped him develop emotional IQ through childhood and college How witnessing his father get laid off from his job ignited Jim’s entrepreneurial spirit Why the seventy days he spent in nature with a college friend were among the top five experiences of his life What Jim learned about running a business from his first venture as a college painter How studying diverse authors from Stephen Covey on goals to Miguel Ruiz on authenticity shaped his thinking and being Jim’s philosophy about not taking things personally and dealing with disappointment with grace, patience and surrender What it means to Jim to be a "B Corp" from transparency to diversity to how you treat your employees Great advice for listeners about hiring people with the right attitudes and mindsets And so much more! Links & Resources
BetterWorld Telecom – Jim’s “Committed to Tech for Good” company Sparrow Mobile – provider Jim referenced that donates service to someone in need every time you purchase one! Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – classic business book by Stephen Covey Jim referenced in his interview The Four Agreements – another must-read by Don Miguel Ruiz we discuss in the interview Jim Rohn – renowned business and sales expert Jim referenced in his interview B Corporation – website that explains the corporate entity designation BetterWorld has chosen that focuses on the triple bottom line About Jim Kenefick
Focused primarily in the technology, media and telecom sectors, Jim put his strategic investment and entrepreneurial leadership skills to use serving as managing partner, CEO, Director and impact investor.
Completed $250+ million worth of transactions for 8 technology companies in past 5 years Led 3 companies from start-ups to revenue growth of $15, $30 and $70 million, and raised more than $750 million in capital to create companies worth over $750 million in market capital Babson College and MIT Program grad Inc. 500/ Inc. 5000 recipient (multiple years) Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist (twice) Extensive board governance and team-building experience EO (Entrepreneurs Organization) and YPO - international leadership positions for social and environmental enterprises Specialties: CEO, Strategic Corporate Adviser, Board member, Mentor, Coach. Experienced High Growth Leader
Long Standing Licensed Amateur Radio Operator
Young President’s Organization (YPO): Past Chairman of the YPO Social Enterprise Network (SEN) – Real Leaders Making a Difference. Created YPO’s International Sustainability Awards / Hall of Frame. Former Chair of YPO International Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) network. Past Washington, DC Chapter Chair and longstanding YPO member.
Ep 24: Life-Saving Leadership with Michael Sapienza, CEO, Colon Cancer Alliance
“Being a trumpet player in an orchestra taught me what moves and inspires people.”
Michael Sapienza was a world-class orchestra musician traveling and performing around the globe when he discovered that his mom had colon cancer. Not even knowing at first where a colon was located, he dived into research and realized that few resources were available to families affected by this terrible disease.
Incredibly, he decided to channel his grief into action, leaving a successful music career to launch a colon cancer foundation! And, as it turned out, many of the skills Michael acquired in his music career – and supporting his family through his mom’s illness - have helped him tune in (pun intended) as a leader. You must listen to this amazing, inspiring interview!
What you'll learn
The amazing story of how a professional world-class orchestra musician touring in Europe and globe-wide ended up running a cancer foundation About a call from his parents that ultimately transformed his life and life mission How Michael launched the Colon Cancer Alliance and asked for his first "big" donation (only to find out he should have asked for more) Fascinating parallels Michael draws between being a musician with having business and non-profit management acumen How to message and draw support for something that's hard to talk about - cancer - to a broader audience Clever and informative ways his organization gets the word out about colon cancer (hint: get screened beginning 45-50 or sooner if you have history of colon cancer in your family) How Michael copes with ongoing exposure to death and supporting others through sickness and grief What Michael learned about building trust, "storming" phase of group development and his growing edges through their merger And so much more! Links & Resources
Colon Cancer Alliance – link to Michael’s amazing organization Mozart in the Jungle – fun show Michael recommends to learn about lives of orchestra musicians Love your butt campaign – innovative campaign to educate the public about colon cancer Pamela Sorenson – shout-out to the awesome listener who connected us with Michael About Michael Sapienza
Michael Sapienza, Chief Executive Officer of The Colon Cancer Alliance, lost his mother to the disease in May of 2009 and served as President and Founder of The Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation from 2010-2015. He has turned his profound grief into action, inspiring and challenging the colorectal cancer community, family, friends and professional associates to follow his lead and dedicate themselves to this cause and the Colon Cancer Alliance mission.
Michael was an integral member of the team that led the effort to merge the Colon Cancer Alliance, and the Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation creating the nation’s largest colon cancer specific nonprofit. Michael is a member of The Ruesch Center for the Cure of GI Cancer’s Advisory board at Georgetown University. In 2014, Michael received three prestigious industry awards; the David Jagelman, MD Award for advocacy in Colorectal Cancer Awareness by the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, the Public Service Award from the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, and the Champion Award from Preventing Colorectal Cancer. He regularly appears on TV, and radio programs throughout the United States to promote the importance of increased funding for colorectal cancer research, and early detection.
Michael holds degrees from both Northwestern University and Rice University and currently resides in the District of Columbia.
Ep 23: The North Star of Leadership with Richard Bynum, President, PNC Bank
“My North Star is helping people who work with me to become even better than when they started.”
Richard Bynum believes there is nothing better than working in a place that’s completely aligned with your values. As a leader he is passionate about supporting and mentoring others to determine their own values (and value) so they can follow their “North Star”.
As the new President of the PNC Bank Richard brings a fresh perspective to his organization and industry at a critical time in history. In this dynamic, informative interview Richard shares what it’s been like to undergo this transition; his views on a diverse, inclusive workplace; being one of the first African American bank presidents in the banking community and so much more!
What you'll learn
How constantly moving as a child influenced Richard's belief in diversity of perspectives Why it's crucial to explain your "why" as a leader and how to help people get engaged with it That Richard's "North Star" as a leader is to help develop other leaders Importance of helping emerging leaders find their own true North, even when it's not aligned with your own Strategies for handling difficult conversations with people we lead How to make sure you have the right support systems mentoring and challenging you along the way How Richard has successfully transitioned into his role with support by his legendary predecessor Mike Harreld Richard's perspective on a diverse, inclusive workplace and being one of the first African American bank presidents in the banking community Importance of making company values tangible and actionable and authentically present in company decision making How Richard equates importance of diversifying organizations similarly to the common wisdom of diversifying an investment portfolio How to get back on-course with our North Star even when we meander off Links & Resources
PNC – the bank Richard leads Simon Sinek video – amazing TED talk by renowned author and thought leader articulating the importance of beginning any endeavor with our “why” Doug Fruehling interview – previous Leadership Insights episode we referenced About Richard Bynum
Richard was named regional president of PNC Bank (Greater Washington) in early 2017. Prior to his current role, he was a member of PNC’s retail executive leadership team leading its small business division. Before that he served as the greater Washington Retail Market Executive from 2010-14. He was responsible for consumer & small business sales within the greater Washington area including nearly 200 store locations and more than 1,000 employees.
Prior to coming to Washington, Richard was the Chief Operating Officer for the small business banking group where led the sales force operating platform for hundreds of small business bankers across the 18 markets where PNC has an active retail presence. He began his career with PNC in 2005 in their Executive Leadership Program. During that time at PNC, Richard played key roles in launching businesses and initiatives focused on revenue growth, strengthening the brand, increasing the engagement of employees and fostering innovation throughout PNC.
Prior to joining PNC, Richard had a 12-year career as a senior manager for the American Red Cross. His last role with the organization was as the managing director for disaster response & emergency communications at the Chicago chapter. During his career, he was an operations director for the Kosovo Refugee Operation as well as the September 11th effort in New York.
Richard has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at the Northwestern University and an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Florida State University. He is also a graduate of the Consumers Bankers Association Graduate School of Retail Bank Management.
Richard is currently a member of 100 Black Men of Washington DC. Prior to moving into the area, he served as a board member for the Mattress Factory Art Museum and
Ep 22: Putting Racism on the Table with Tamara Copeland, President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
“As leaders we have to examine ourselves, our own beliefs, and those structures and systems that perpetuate racial inequity”
Tamara Copeland is a powerhouse of a leader who courageously and tirelessly uses her voice and professional platform to tackle one of the most challenging and charged social issues today - racism!
Tamara’s commitment to racial equity surged when Trayvon Martin was killed. Her son AJ was roughly his age; he could have been Trayvon! In this incredibly powerful, informative conversation Tamara shares her passion for racial equity and offers sage advice for how each of us can become more educated, stronger allies and advocates in this crucial social movement!
What you'll learn
Stories about Tamara’s upbringing and traits she inherited from her parents Lessons in compassion and social system functions (and lack thereof!) Tamara learned from her first job as a food stamp technician Why mentoring in social services is so crucial for young professionals to enhance their skills and sense of empathy Why Tamara doesn't like defining her sector as "nonprofit" and how thinking of it as "social profit" better acknowledges its value to society Poignant examples of structural racism and unconscious bias and their impact on individuals and communities, including the philanthropic How tragic deaths of Travon Martin and Freddy Gray – and Tamara’s reflections about her own son - inspired WRAG’s body of work "Putting Racism on the Table" How Meyer Foundation's Nicky Goren helped shape the conversation by quoting John Gardner "first step in leadership is not action, it's understanding" Ways leaders can begin to use our power and voices – in whatever communities we live and lead - to create more inclusive environments and help overcome bias Importance to take time to read, learn, study and try to understand "others" that we may not have had exposure to in our past lives And so much more! Links & Resources
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) – organization of DC-area philanthropists Tamara leads Putting Racism on the Table – incredible learning and action series WRAG launched in 2016 My Racial Identity Deconstructed & Trayvon Martin Silent – phenomenal, powerful blog posts where Tamara shares her family’s roots, struggles and some of the reasons she’s using her voice and professional platform to fight racism Nicky Goren interview – episode with the amazing leader of the Meyer foundation we referenced Afraid of the Dark: What Whites and Blacks Need to Know About Each Other – book by Tamara’s neighbor she referenced About Tamara Copeland
Tamara joined the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers in September 2006. In this position, she leads a staff committed to promoting and supporting effective and responsible philanthropy across Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland and the District of Columbia. Over the course of this time, Tamara has become one of the key spokespeople for philanthropy with her blog, A Voice from Philanthropy. Currently, the organization is leading three major initiatives, Our Region, Your Investment focused on ensuring more affordable housing in the region; the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility in partnership with Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation; and a dynamic exploration of race called “Putting Racism on the Table.” An op ed that she authored on why she feels this is not a post-racial America was featured in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Before this position, she served as the President of Voices for America’s Children for almost 10 years. Many believe that her vision and leadership were instrumental in transforming what was the National Association of Child Advocates, an association focused solely on supporting state and locally based child advocacy organizations into Voices for America’s Children, a national advocacy organization with member groups in alm
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