One mark of a great leader is to acknowledge what you don’t know and be open to learning.
Monday night, the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte (HFL) recognized 18 local nonprofit leaders for doing just that, through the organization’s Nonprofit Leadership Academy.
"I want to really thank HFL for this opportunity,” said Shannon Walker, Executive Director for Association Advancement at La Porte County Family YMCA and one of the evening’s honorees. "I'm really proud of all of the people who have been a part of this class."
Along with her 17 cohort fellows, Walker took part in 10 full-day classes over several months, covering operational planning, financial management, marketing and communications, fundraising, and accountability.
The biggest takeaway for Walker was learning how to collaborate with colleagues in the local nonprofit arena.
"This gave us the opportunity to learn more about other organizations, and how can we collectively work together with our individual missions to better the greater La Porte community,” Walker said.
When the HFL approached local nonprofits four years ago to evaluate resource gaps and areas of need, they consistently heard one word— education.
"We think with what we know. The more we know, the better we think,” said Jeffrey Bernel, Chairman of the Board for HFL.
Organizational leaders, many of whom had risen to their positions thanks to determination and innate talent, knew they were missing critical business knowledge. As a result, the HFL identified capacity building as a funding priority and reached out to Margaret Ahearns, Program Specialist with the Indiana University Executive Education Program at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs for help with curriculum.
“Nonprofit organizations exist to serve a need within the community and spend their time providing resources to others,” said Maria Fruth, President and CEO of the HFL. “Capacity building opportunities like this IU Nonprofit Leadership Academy are our way of giving resources back to the organizations who do so much for our community, allowing them to acquire more tools to deliver services more effectively and efficiently.”
Ahearns worked with the HFL to bring programming normally offered in Indianapolis all the way to La Porte, and to tailor content specifically for the Region.
"We are so appreciative of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte starting this initiative because it's going to greatly enhance the contribution that these organizations can make to the community,” Ahearns said.
She made the trip from the capital to share the evening with program graduates and HFL board members.
"The opportunity to meet in person is very valuable to me,” she said. “It strengthens the bond and the enthusiasm for the program.”
In recognition of their efforts, graduates each received an official certificate of completion from Indiana University during the ceremony held at Bistro on the Greens in LaPorte.
The 2019 cohort included:
Christopher Taelman, Center for Hospice Care
Jim Musial, Citizens Concerned for the Homeless
Gabrielle Ginther, Dunebrook, Inc.
Edward Seal, Home Team of La Porte County
Shannon Walker, La Porte County Family YMCA
Cheryl Dauer, La Porte County Meals on Wheels
Jeremy Sobecki, La Porte County Parks Foundation
Monica Komasinski, Leadership La Porte County
Ashley Robbins, New Prairie Education Program
Erin Mooneyhan, Paladin, Inc.
Dorota Janik, Reins of Life
Ephphatha Malden, Swanson Center
Debbie Sellers, The Social and Learning Institute
Maria Galka, Visiting Nurse Association of NWI
Karen Biernacki, Family Advocates
Connor Podkul, Friendship Botanic Gardens
Mario Rosa, La Porte Community School Corporation
Brandi Lewis, Boys & Girls Club of Michigan City
For more information about grants and special programs offered through the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, please visit their website at hflaporte.org.