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Amazing experiences for local nonprofit leaders!

Do you overuse a word? Maybe you say “awesome” or “obviously” too many times in a day. Lately, for me, it’s been the word “amazing.”

“Amazing” pops up in a lot of my social media posts, emails and conversations. It’s a wonderful word, and I feel lucky to be amazed on an almost daily basis because of the people I’m privileged to meet through the Nonprofit Leadership Initiative (NPLI). I regularly interact with nonprofit staff, board and committee members through my work delivering on NPLI’s mission of providing Fox Valley area nonprofits with opportunities for leadership development and learning to better achieve their missions.

Pat Exarhos, LEAVEN board member, facilitated the Board Roundtable session on recruitment. A few of the attendees pictured here are board members representing, Catalpa Health, LEAVEN, Fox Valley Veterans, Lovin’ The Skin I’m In, Brigade, and Foundations for Living.

Here are some of the amazing experiences I’ve had over the last few weeks:

  • I spent an early morning Board Roundtable session with enthusiastic board members who dedicate time to serving a nonprofit. In June our topic was recruitment, and the icebreaker was to share one sentence on why you find serving on your board to be a positive experience. As board members shared their connection to their nonprofit’s mission, their excitement about making a difference, and their determination to strengthen their organization, “amazing” is the only word I could think of to describe the swell of pride I felt to be part of a community with such individuals. I encourage you to consider joining these board members in making a difference. Many nonprofits could use your talents, and you can explore board and committee opportunities on Board Connect.
  • I also spent two days with 19 nonprofit leaders in our Leadership Institute program. Their commitment to learning and prioritizing their professional development during this year-long program for the good of their organization is, you guessed it – amazing! These leaders have been humble, vulnerable and authentic as they tackled the first two educational modules – personal leadership and the board roles and responsibilities.

Look at the photo and names of this year’s Leadership Institute members, and I encourage you to connect with these amazing individuals who are making a difference in our community. I haven’t even mentioned the trainers, colleagues, Steering Council and committee members that I work with, but trust me, the same adjective applies to them as well.

Top photo:
Leadership Institute cohort 8: Row 1: Oladimeji Tomori, Pointters Community Initiatives; Alicia Gehrig, Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services; Jenn Harper, Jake’s Network of Hope; Gina Roberts, Multicultural Coalition; Maria Mason, Multicultural Coalition; Kristen Gondek, People of Progression; Lori Kaufman, Appleton Education Foundation; Row 2: Andrea Peterson, Community Clothes Closet: Valerie Simonsen, NEWVoices; Nikki Gerhard, LEAVEN; Lisa McCallister, SOAR Fox Cities; Katie Olson, ESTHER; Emma Kane, Community Action for Healthy Living; Laurie Munson, CARES of the Fox Cities; Josh Kilgas, United Way Fox Cities; Rovell Stewart, People of Progression; Cindy Sommer, Catalpa Health; Claudia Damiani, Atlas Science Center; Trevor Fenrich, Solutions Recovery.


The Nonprofit Leadership Initiative within the Community Foundation is a partnership of Fox Valley-area nonprofits, funders, educational institutions and businesses dedicated to providing resources needed by effective nonprofit boards and executive leaders. NPLI offers a wide range of leadership, management and technical skill-building programs, as well as peer learning circles, to the entire nonprofit sector in the Fox Valley.

We support  NPLI with a grant from the Community Vision Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, one among many community partners supporting NPLI. Click here to learn more.

What does a Community Foundation do? Glad you asked! Learn more here.

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