Where are they today?

The following are occasional interviews with TLS alumni.

Jody Tompros
, Division Director of Family Stability and Child Health and Development at Cornerstones in Northern Virginia.

“Before The Leadership Sanctuary I tended to shoot from the hip. Now, I take more time to pause and consider my response – whether angry or excited. I am definitely more intentional.”

Jody has been in her position for nine months, this organization for seven years, and a mental health professional for over 25 years. “When I started in this new position, I knew I needed something just for me. Some things at work were frustrating and I was burned out. I started asking around for good leadership programs and a friend recommended The Leadership Sanctuary.”

From the first day of the program Jody saw that she has made a good decision. "I learned so much. I loved the theory, emotional communication and body work. It made me focus and be more thoughtful, less reactive. In working with others, it has made a huge difference. ”

In addition, Tompros found that the group was supportive and encouraging. “It gave me confidence to put myself out there, especially at work. I feel more confident and the tools we learned like making clear requests I am putting to use. Just the other day when I sent an email to a new employee I am supervising, I asked her specifically to respond with any questions or concerns. I would not have done that before.”

Another huge benefit for Jody was the group itself. “I learned a lot from people in the room -- very creative and upbeat. I feel like I can call them any time. We built up a lot of trust and are even planning on some collaboration between our organizations. As nonprofits, we need to work together more often, especially when it comes to serving people in our communities. We call it the “Collective Impact Model.”

When asked how The Leadership Sanctuary program can improve, Tompros suggested that the context for why we take this approach to leadership development be made clearer. “I’d like to understand how leadership today has changed. However, if we take the day-to-day challenges, I can see how important it is to step back, no matter what you are doing and to be patient, reflect and learn from others. Having this time every month to do this in a structured and guided environment with peers was invaluable.”

Note: Jody Tompros was a participant in Cohort 11 which ended in February of 2014.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grace Lee - Executive Director, National Park Trust
Note: We happened to interview Grace during the government shutdown in early October, 2013. This unexpected event challenged Grace and her team especially as their organization has a direct relationship to the parks and the employees who work there.

“This government shutdown is directly affecting our programs as schools across the country are scheduled to visit the National Parks. We have had to scramble to find alternative locations, to manage expectations and to operate without knowing when or how this will all end. I have been thinking TLS [The Leadership Sanctuary] the whole time!”

Grace Lee, Executive Director of the National Park Trust, joined Cohort #5 in 2012. At that time she had been the ED for six years and was working 12-hour days. “I was not stewarding my relationship to myself, my family and ultimately the organization. I had tunnel vision and a belief that working long hours was what I needed to do. Little did I realize how this belief was not serving anyone well.”

Today, Grace says that her TLS experience and the group of peers she keeps up with have proven invaluable. “Sometimes I use the practices without even realizing it. I’m much more cognizant of my actions and intentions. When things get tough or I’m triggered in a big way, I stop to remind myself why I am here (my declaration) and to ask whether this bump in the road will or won’t throw me off track. In addition, one of the most useful tools besides centering and breathing is teaching my staff about the importance of ‘requests and promises” when working with partners, board and fellow staff.”

The practices learned in the program have made a big difference at work and at home. For example, “We have a new member of the team who made a pretty big mistake,” says Grace. “Instead of jumping to conclusions or focusing on the negative outcomes, I worked to understand why the mistake happened and what my role was if anything. I also wanted to model the behavior of inquiry. The staff member was grateful and we all realized the mistake was caused by miscommunication.”

Personally, Grace takes more time for home life, helped by a new and energetic puppy who requires long walks. She also passes along her learning to her children. “My daughter has a very stressful job in New York. I tell her to breath, take a walk around the block and remember that there is more to life than work. I am thankful to Heather and The Leadership Sanctuary!” -- October 2013 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Robert Malone – Chief Business Development Officer, Volunteers of American Chesapeake 
Also: Founder and Board Member of Mentoring to Manhood and Participant in Prince George’s County Maryland Cohort 

Robert Malone, founder of Mentoring to Manhood (M2M) and now Chief Development Officer of Volunteers of America Chesapeake, is the first to admit that letting go is a challenge. “We hired an Executive Director who took M2M over fulltime in the spring of 2013. However, I still pay close attention and get nervous when I see something not happening the way I would have done it.
My challenge is to provide the right level of support without overdoing it."

The Leadership Sanctuary helped Malone in a few important and specific ways. 
"The training around making requests, being specific, checking in on assumptions and inserting a pause before immediately responding was very helpful. Though I am still learning, I know that I am more conscious and thoughtful when working with others.

It also gave me critical time to refocus reflect and renew and the opportunity to celebrate the good instead of always focusing on problems which is what so much of a leader’s focus becomes." [Malone with with Mentoring to Manhood for eight years.] 
If Malone was to give advice to anyone considering starting or building a nonprofit he says they need:
"A clear cause and a reason for why you are doing the work, a coalition or network of leaders who can support and literally “invest” in your cause, and systems early on that track outcomes and successes in a quantitative as well as qualitative way."
Today, Malone continues to utilize what he learned about himself and how he can be a more effective leader through his ten months of The Leadership Sanctuary program offered through Prince George’s Community Foundation. When asked what he would like more of in leadership support he replied, “A structured way to come back to check in on my personal and professional commitments and goals and to build trust in both myself and others in times of uncertainty and change.” - Summer 2013

Jody Tompros

Grace Lee
Grace Lee

Robert Malone

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