100 episodes

Dedicated to equipping the next generation of nonprofit leaders. This will be accomplished by interviewing people whose business, nonprofit and life experiences might be valuable on an emerging leader. When we use the term leader, we are referring to organizational and Board leadership.

Next Gen Nonprofit Leadership with Tommy Thomas Tommy Thomas

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

Dedicated to equipping the next generation of nonprofit leaders. This will be accomplished by interviewing people whose business, nonprofit and life experiences might be valuable on an emerging leader. When we use the term leader, we are referring to organizational and Board leadership.

    From Homelessness to Home Ownership - Karen Marsdale's Mission at Hannah's Hope

    From Homelessness to Home Ownership - Karen Marsdale's Mission at Hannah's Hope

    [00:00:00] Karen Marsdale: I might be a little bit averse to risks, but because I learned so early on by being really naive and thinking that my husband and I could run a business that really needed a lot more cash flow and ready cash that we just didn't have.
    [00:00:13] Karen Marsdale: But because I failed and from that failure, we created success. And when I say success, we were able to get back on track and work hard and buy a house and send our kids to college. And, that early failure made me feel that if I could do that and come back from it, I'm not really afraid to fail.
    [00:00:38] Tommy Thomas: This week, we're resuming the conversation we started last week with Karen Marsdale, the co-director of Hannah's Hope in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Hannah’s Hope is dedicated to helping women with children who are facing homelessness in Berks County. The primary focus is on women, who despite their current situation, sheltered potential and determination to rebuild their lives. Karen will also explain how she and her co-director have split senior leadership duties to play to their individual strengths. While this sometimes leads to complications, it's working wonderfully at Hannah's Hope. Let's pick up where we left off last week.
    [00:01:25] Tommy Thomas: Give us a thumbnail sketch of Hannah's Hope and the trust that y'all have there in Berks County.
    [00:01:31] Karen Marsdale: Okay, so I'm just going to give a little bit of an educational piece here for about two minutes in the world of homelessness. And we see it of course now. It's front and center everywhere we go in terms of, media or, in seeing people on the street. There's a continuum of homelessness.
    [00:01:51] Karen Marsdale: And we teach people all the time that when you see one homeless person, there are people in the continuum that are chronically homeless. Those might be people who are addicted and they don't want to give up their addiction. They're going to be on the street. They're going to be in tent camps.
    [00:02:06] Karen Marsdale: They're not going to be moved into the next .They're not somebody who has had one thing happen. And now they have become homeless. Then you have people who are homeless because of an incident or something that's happened in their life and they need a certain amount of care.
    [00:02:23] Karen Marsdale: What we do at Hannah's is very focused on women with children who are in that place where they have abilities. And we have a very robust application process, three interviews. One of the interviews usually encompasses our trauma therapist, because she's getting from the where is this person in their mental health?
    [00:02:48] Karen Marsdale: How do we check their mental health? We look at where they've been in terms of, have they ever had a job? So women that come to us and I say this, and it might sound a bit on feeling, but we're looking for women who you would say would be the advanced placement or the A+ women who find themselves in a homeless situation who really have the ability, the grit.
    [00:03:12] Karen Marsdale: And again, when I say ability, it's not just the want to, but do they have the ability to learn skills that can help them to get a a job or go to classes that they can get training, some sort of basic training so that they can get a living wage job. So our goal is to take women for 12 to 18 months, teach them life skills.
    [00:03:35] Karen Marsdale: Business skills, all the skills that they need. It can be things like even how to clean, how to cook. Essentially they might not have some of these skills, but they have some of them and they've not learned all of them. But we want to get them to a place ultimately where they can live independently for the rest of their lives with their children without necessarily having a mate. And one of the biggest problems that we see, particularly with women with children, and this is why there's domestic violence and abuse, is the fact that they've never had the backgroun

    • 34 min
    From Ballet to Boardrooms - The Inspiring Story of Karen Marsdale

    From Ballet to Boardrooms - The Inspiring Story of Karen Marsdale

    [00:00:00] Karen Marsdale: I wanted to be a ballet dancer and I was very serious and was in ballet lessons and modern dance lessons almost every day of the week by the time I was in junior high.
    I went to dance camp in the summer, went to the University of Connecticut for a summer with the Martha Graham School of Dance. And then after my senior year of high school, I spent six years in New York doing a program with the Joffrey School of Ballet. My ultimate dream was to go to Juilliard.
    I did not make the cut. And I think that should have been a little bit of a signal because it's like dance is professional sports one in, how many million really become the prima ballerina at the New York city ballet.
    +++++++++++++++
    [00:01:45] Tommy Thomas: Our guest today is Karen Marsdale, a longtime contributor to the economic vibrancy of Berks County, Pennsylvania.
    Karen spent almost 27 years in senior leadership roles with the Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry before joining Hannah's Hope as co-executive director. She took her BA in fashion merchandising and business management from Stevens College and serves on the boards of several nonprofits in and around Berks County.
    Karen, welcome to NextGen Nonprofit Leadership.
    [00:02:16] Karen Marsdale: Thank you, Tommy. It's a pleasure to be here.
    [00:02:20] Tommy Thomas: I'm a huge fan of all that a well-led Chamber of Commerce can do over the years I've observed, what good things happen when the Chamber takes a role in promoting economics and also when they take a role in incorporating the non-profit sector into the life of a community because I think that's important.
    When I learned of your background, I just jumped at the chance to have somebody who's done that and then migrated over into the role with Hannah's Hope. Again, thank you for joining us. Now before we dig too deep into your multi-pronged career, let's go back towards the beginning.
    Take me into your childhood and what two or three things do you remember that maybe has contributed to you being the person you are today?
    [00:03:06] Karen Marsdale: I'm an only child. And so that in the era that I was born and raised, that was a bit unique because big families were more the norm then than they are now.
    I think one of the things that kind of charted my course was I was always around adults primarily. Now we did live near relatives, so I had cousins and aunts and uncles, you spend most of your time with your family, meaning your parents. And so, I think that being an only child did not only, particularly for my mother, have the, maybe the opportunity, sometimes it didn't feel so opportunistic to have someone who was just looking at you as the in, the child that they're raising and nurturing.
    [00:03:52] Karen Marsdale: So sometimes I might've felt a little bit overwhelmed, but when you're an only child, I've read books on birth order etc. And one thing that I learned from that was an only child is like a firstborn times three.
    When you're an only child it is like being a firstborn times three. You tend to be alpha; you tend to be a leader.
    [00:04:09] Karen Marsdale: So, you tend to be alpha, you tend to be a leader. And I'm not saying these things to say, this is who I am. It's just this is often what happens. My mother was a bit sensitive. And so I was sensitive. I know I got my feelings hurt a lot.
    And mother was not exactly grin and bear it. It was oh, you poor thing. So, I think, and that was a lot about her background. And it's just so interesting. And now today, especially, my work at hand as you see how much background in childhood impacts the life and the trajectory of an individual.
    I do remember one time I broke my arm, and my father was rough and tumble and praise many was a welder and, oh, you're fine, you'll be fine. And my mother then took me to the hospital. I got it casted up and I almost waited all day for my father to come home, jump in the driveway and say, see, I told you. It’s funny little

    • 24 min
    Teamwork and Collaboration: Andrea Buczynski's Journey in Leadership

    Teamwork and Collaboration: Andrea Buczynski's Journey in Leadership

    [00:00:00] Tommy Thomas: Today, we're continuing the conversation that we began last week with Andrea Buczynski - recently retired Global Vice President for Leadership Development and Human Resources at Cru. Her narrative is a testament to the power of purpose driven leadership. Throughout the podcast, Andrea emphasizes the value of teamwork in collaboration. Her story is particularly inspiring for those interested in how personal values and professional demands intersect in nonprofit leadership. Her journey illustrates how embracing change fosters a supportive team environment. And maintaining a clear focus on organizational and personal goals are crucial for effective leadership. Let's pick up where we left off last week.
    ++++++++++++++++++=
    [00:00:52] Tommy Thomas:: When I was talking to Dee Dee Wilson, she's going to be a guest here in probably three or four weeks, but she was talking about this and I'm sure y'all have a name for it, but this peer group of women that both of you and I guess up to 15 other people are a member of, a peer-to-peer kind of iron sharpens iron kind of thing. I'm guessing. Tell us about that and maybe how y'all got into that. What it's been like.
    [00:01:17] Andrea Buczynski: Yeah, the group is called Arête Executive Women of Influence.  And it's a by invitation membership and we ascribe to a common set of values.
    We espouse Christian values as leaders and are committed to confidentiality. And so, what that does is it creates a common experience and a safe environment. And I'll tell you, there is nothing like being with a group of women who are high achieving, who are very ethical, strong character, competent and the kinds of, I would say both empathy, understanding, and wisdom that emerges, as we listen to each other and cheer one another on.
    [00:02:12] Andrea Buczynski: It's wonderful to have kind of a safe port where you can be honest about the stuff you're experiencing. Many of the women will have experienced something similar and bring their own experience to your journey. And so, I found it immensely helpful.
    [00:02:30] Tommy Thomas: Now, as I think Dee Dee said, you had people from the private sector as well as ministry and possibly government. I don't know. What is your mix? Without breaking any confidentiality.
    [00:02:41] Andrea Buczynski: We have a marketplace. It's a C suite largely, but it's academics.  I have to think for a minute. We have entrepreneurs, marketplace, nonprofit ministry. Yeah.
    [00:02:59] Tommy Thomas:  Was this something that's going on in other sectors and y'all modeled after somebody else or did somebody come up with this idea and said we need to do this.
    [00:03:11] Andrea Buczynski: The one who founded the organization is Diane Ogle. She'd be a good interview. She had done something like this some years back and while she was living here in Orlando as part of the Christian Chamber and she had a number of men approach her and say, I think you need to do something for women.
    And so, she had this idea. She shared it with a few people. And I think one of the first people she shared it with said, I think it's a great idea. Could I be in it?  By the time I came, there were probably five or six women already in the group. I couldn't tell you any more than that part of it.
    [00:03:54] Andrea Buczynski: But what I've loved about it, Tommy, is the advice that fits the kind of role that you have.
    And so, in Cru, I don't want to use the word complaining, but let's say I was talking about being tired or I can't stop working, very common with high achieving anybody is where is that switch to turn off? In the evening, most people in and even on my team would say you need a vacation, or you need to take some time off and it'll be better.
    I had the vacation. I had the time off. That was not the point. I got to this group and at one of the very first meetings, a woman just looked at me, there was someone else sharing the same struggle, and I echoed, I said, you cou

    • 23 min
    From Chemistry to Cru – Andrea Buczynski’s Path to Purposeful Leadership

    From Chemistry to Cru – Andrea Buczynski’s Path to Purposeful Leadership

    [00:00:00] Andrea Buczynski: I don't mind doing some thought work by myself. But there's nothing like getting in a room with people who want to go to the same place, and to be able to put ideas out there, bat them around. And then it might be the same group of people, but it also might be a different group of people that comes in and says here's what it's going to take to do it.
    It resonates with me with the body of Christ that we all have a part to play and God's created us uniquely and we need others to bring the best out of each other. We build each other up when we're in that process. And the team that's working well together will be more brilliant than any individual player.
    Tommy Thomas: Our guest today is Andrea Buczynski. Andrea enjoyed a long and storied career with Cru. She took her undergraduate degree from Penn State. At Cru, she's known as a catalyst for transformation, seeking innovative solutions and addressing challenges and creating lasting impact.
    Her most recent leadership responsibility at Cru was Global Vice President for Leadership Development and Human Resources. Andrea, welcome to NextGen Nonprofit Leadership.
    [00:01:15] Andrea Buczynski: Thank you so much, Tommy. I'm glad to be here with you today.
    [00:01:18] Tommy Thomas: Yeah, people always want to know, how do we get these guests? And yours is a typical story.
    In my business, in the search business, anytime I'm looking for a CEO, at least one way to build the pool is to call a bunch of people, describe the job you've got and say, now if you were doing the search who would you get? And if you make eight or ten of those calls generally, you'll begin to see three- or four-people’s names rise to the top and you might think I need to talk to these people.
    In your case, about a year ago, year and a half ago, I was interviewing your colleagues Barry and Dee Dee Rush and Bob Tiede. At the end of that conversation I said, now y'all been through this. It wasn't quite like a root canal. Who would you recommend? And your name came out of Barry and Dee Dee immediately.
    [00:02:04] Tommy Thomas: So then earlier this year, I was talking to our mutual friend, DeeDee Wilson, from InterVarsity and she says, who else have you got in the queue? And I began to tell her, and she says, you need to talk to Andrea. I said, okay. And then a little bit later, I was talking to Judy Douglas and Judy says who else are you interviewing?  And I told her, and she says, have you spoke to Andrea yet? And I said no but that's probably a sign. I'm excited about this.
    Before we dig too deep into your professional background, I always like to know a little bit about somebody's childhood and maybe a few of the things that brought them to where they are today.
    [00:02:40] Tommy Thomas: Do you have a couple of particular remembrances of childhood?
    [00:02:44] Andrea Buczynski: I grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania in a small town that was full of families who had immigrated to the U.S. which included my grandparents. And we grew up in what I'd call a front porch community, where everybody sat on the front porch and knew one another, and all of my grade school teachers lived within about five blocks of our home.
    And so, there was this sense of you're part of a community. If you actually did something naughty, chances are your mom would know about it before you got home. Somebody would be on the way or able to correct you. We also lived just a couple doors down from the church we went to, which was a big influence in my life.
    I'm the oldest of six. And so, growing up, sharing was a common struggle and was what made the family experience rich as it was.
    [00:03:43] Tommy Thomas: What was high school like in your town?
    [00:03:47] Andrea Buczynski:   By the time I got to high school, we had a consolidated district. You went from that class of maybe 30 or 60 to class of, let's say 270, something like that.
    Andrea Buczynski: It was just a different experience. What I enjoyed a

    • 27 min
    Intentional Living and Giving: A Deep Dive with Larry O’Nan

    Intentional Living and Giving: A Deep Dive with Larry O’Nan

    Tommy Thomas: Today we continue our dialogue with Larry O’Nan that we began last week. Before delving into that conversation, I'd like to share some reflections that have emerged after revisiting our episode a few times. As the one handling post-production duties for this podcast, I typically listen during the edit for technical nuances and formatting concerns, rather than immersing myself in the content.
    However, I get a second chance to absorb the discussions when I tune in via my podcast app. This usually occurs on Saturday mornings during my long bicycle rides. Alongside other favorite podcasts like Alan Alda’s Clear and Vivid, previous Tennessee governor's Phil Bredesen and Bill Haslam's You Might Be Right, Tia Brown’s One Question Leadership Podcast, Far East Broadcasting Company’s weekly update and other enriching podcasts.
    During one such ride last week as Larry recounted the early days of Fund Development with Cru, my mind traveled back to 1974 to those nascent beginnings. As a young 23-year-old joining the Crusade staff, my prior fundraising experience had been limited to helping a friend with a critical medical procedure. While this endeavor proved fruitful, it primarily relied on contributions from close acquaintances.
    Under Larry's guidance, alongside a small team of field reps, I unwittingly became a part of Campus Crusade’s foundational efforts in Fund Development. Back then, not only were we tasked with raising our own personal support, but we were instrumental in pioneering the organization's approach to securing substantial funding for specific projects.
    My tenure with Larry proved to be a master class in various aspects of life and fundraising. From time management strategies to maximizing air travel budgets. And even cultivating relationships with affluent donors predominantly in their senior years. Those lessons were invaluable.
    Little did we know that we would be trailblazers in Campus Crusade’s fundraising efforts, contributing to the trajectory of Larry's enduring career. Looking back, I'm deeply grateful for those formative years and the profound insights into both fundraising in life that Larry had parted to me. Let's pick up where we left off last week.
    [00:02:40] Tommy Thomas: Take me into your new book, Intentional Living and Giving. What was the genesis of that?
    [00:02:48] Larry O'Nan: The genesis came back from this study when I was assigned the job of writing to come up with Stewardship Theology. I did another book in the mid 80s called Giving Yourself Away, and in many respects, this is a revision of that, although it's a totally different package, but it was still basically all the same core theology.
    And a few years ago, I was in Ireland for an event, And some people in Britain were saying there's nothing that's really distinctive that we know about this, simple to understand about what stewardship's about, because there's a lot of misconceptions out there. And there's a lot of traditions that would get in their way.
    [00:03:30] Larry O'Nan: In Great Britain, years ago there was a guy there that started orphanages. And he had about 300 kids in the orphanages in Bristol. And as he was working with these kids, he was a great marketer, but he was known for praying things in. So, he'd go into his closet and pray.
    And then people decided that his style of raising funds was the way they would adapt. So, they would say we're not going to ask for money. We're going to go pray for it. What they don't tell you is the story of how well he was at marketing where the kids were living. And everybody knew where he was located, and he was out all the time talking about the kids in need.
    [00:04:13] Larry O'Nan: So, you'll find that story. And there are some people who say we should never ask for anything. God is the one that provides. We're not going to go that route. So, there's a lot of skewed ideas of what this all means. The book itself, Intentional Living and Giving, is a recap o

    • 23 min
    Transforming Fundraising: Understanding Stewardship in Nonprofit Fund Development

    Transforming Fundraising: Understanding Stewardship in Nonprofit Fund Development

    [00:00:00] Larry O'Nan: We could have failed miserably, Tommy, but that was okay. I learned a long time ago, and even in the book that I've written, I did a foreword about the freedom to fail. And I was afraid to step out and do things, and I had a guy that I was working with, and he said, Larry, freedom to fail is what you've got.
    [00:00:19] Larry O'Nan: No one's ever done it before. Go ahead and step into it. All you can do is go back and do it again. If it doesn't work, then try something else. And freedom to fail never became a barrier to me. If this is not the way to do it, we'll figure it out later and tweak it and do it again.
    ++++++++++++++++++
    [00:00:34] Tommy Thomas: My guest today is Larry O'Nan, and Larry is a graduate of the University of Colorado. He and his wife, Pat, served on the staff of Cru, previously known as Campus Crusade for Christ, for 18 years.
    And during this time, Larry dedicated 13 years to developing and overseeing the accelerated growth of many fund development initiatives, resulting in more than 150 million raised for evangelism and development programs worldwide. I first met Larry in July of 1973. I had joined the staff of Campus Crusade and had been assigned to report to Larry.
    It's an immense pleasure to get to interview my first boss.
    Larry, Welcome to NextGen Nonprofit Leadership.
    [00:01:20] Larry O'Nan: Tommy, it's so good to be with you. Thanks a lot for inviting me to dialogue with you a little bit today about all kinds of things. We've got a long history.
    [00:01:28] Tommy Thomas: We could go in a lot of directions. We could do a whole podcast on reminiscing about memories, but there was one that stuck in my mind. And I don't know if you remember or not.  It was the summer of ‘74 and Larry and I had traveled to Korea to attend this big conference, Expo 74, with a million and a half of our good friends.
    And after the conference, we traveled around Southeast Asia, but the leg of the trip that I remember was with the Philippines. And it was so hot, and it was so humid, I was raised in the south and I thought I knew what heat and humidity was, but they put a whole new definition on it over there.
    I remember we shared a bedroom that had two single beds and one oscillating fan. I can remember lying in my bed and that fan would hit me and then it would go away and it'd go over, swing over to Larry's side of the room, and hit him. And it'd go back and forth. And I thought, a lot of significant learning took place on that trip, but the heat and the humidity and that oscillating fan stick out in my memory, Larry.
    [00:02:34] Larry O'Nan: Oh, my goodness. And I was in the Philippines about two years ago. I chair a board of a nonprofit in the Philippines called Little Feet and Friends, and I was sharing a room with a Filipino pastor that was with me. And I was laying there thinking at least the last time I was here, it wasn't oscillating. I was actually in the only air-conditioned room on that entire compound.
    [00:03:00] Tommy Thomas:  Yeah, they get used to that heat over there. It's amazing. It is amazing. Before we dig too deep into your career and the books you've written and that kind of thing, I want to go back to your maybe to your childhood a little bit. Growing up in Colorado, what are two or three things that you remember most about your childhood?
    [00:03:18] Larry O'Nan: My father was a pastor in Western Colorado at the time. And Tommy, the things that stuck with my head the most was learning to do something from nothing. Dad was encouraging. I had a horse that was 36 inches tall, a Grand Canyon pony horse. And I learned to make money with that little rascal.
    He about killed me on a race, but I decided that I could take him to the richer part of my town. And for a quarter, I could get a kid to ride on the back of the horse and I could make more money in three hours as a 10- or 12-year-old than I could if I was doing anything else. So, learning to do something from noth

    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
3 Ratings

3 Ratings

KaySpangler ,

One of my favorite podcasts!

I had the pleasure of connecting with Tommy about six months ago and was introduced to this podcast through him. I know I’ll find myself looking forward to when these are released at the first thing I listen to. The insights from the leaders he features are so applicable, encouraging, and real.

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