Monday, November 23, 2015

Reflections: Time Spent With Program Partners

PC Training 2015
In early October, we spent a few days with many of our Program Coordinators for some training and good conversations around our partnerships. Program Coordinators, or PCs as we like to call them, are our primary contacts at the colleges and organizations we partner with. They are the work-force behind the campus-based sessions of the Institute. In my role at LeaderShape, I get to talk with many of them daily. Since those conversations happen over email and phone, it was nice to see these folks face-to-face in October!

In our conversations at PC Training about partnerships, we talked about how knowing more about each other helps us to strengthen those partnerships; how identifying overlaps in our organizational values can help us also identify our common goals; and how strengthening connections with folks on campus can help broaden and deepen a sense of community. We worked through some exercises and discussed some ways to do each of those things.

We also talked about LeaderShape’s new branding and the language we use when we talk about our organization and our programs. You can refer back to this blog post for more information about the branding. With planning under-way for many sessions of the Institute, this new language and the use of our new logos are being put into practice! We love seeing the flyers, t-shirt designs, Instagram posts, and tweets with the new logos! 

Since our time with PCs this October, we have been continuing the work around strengthening our partnerships with campuses and learning more about what they value for students on their campus. We look forward to continuing the meaningful conversations about how LeaderShape programs can enhance leadership on each campus and for each participant. 

Post from Abby Prince, LeaderShape's Director of Program Quality & Management.

You can learn more about the Institute by visiting our website or emailing Vernon Wall at

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Host a Webinar with LeaderShape!

We are excited to announce that we have opened the submission process for our 2016 webinar series.

We are looking for people will valuable experience and knowledge to share with the greater LeaderShape community to be a part of this webinar series. If you are having thoughts like, "Um, Yes! I do have something to share." and "My pal knows some things worth learning about.", then we hope you and the friends and colleagues you encourage will consider submitting a proposal. Need more info before you decide? We thought so...

Webinar Audience
Webinars will be publicized to the LeaderShape community via our weekly email newsletter,  social media outlets, and through program partners. 

Webinar Topics
No topic is "off-limits", however we do ask that the values and mission of LeaderShape are taken into consideration when preparing a proposal. Find a topic that you are knowledgable and passionate about sharing with others. Be willing to think boldly and encourage others to take action.

Who Can Submit a Proposal?
Anyone! You do not need to have participated in a LeaderShape program to be a part of the webinar series. We are looking for folks who are prepared to inspire, educate, and activate the LeaderShape community.

The Submission Process
Just fill out this Google doc! It will capture the information we will be using to make decisions on the webinar scheduleNot sure you are ready to present a webinar? No problem! Sign up to receive notifications of upcoming webinar events and learn something new with us.

We are eager to put together a series that engages, educates, and stretches our community! If you have any questions, please send us an email at

Friday, November 13, 2015

World Kindness Day

There are a lot of holidays that bring attention to the meaningful and the silly (national donut day anyone?) and everything in between. Today is World Kindness Day, a holiday born in 1998 from a gathering of like-minded kindness organizations from around the world.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, is also involved with World Kindness Day. They define the day as “A global 24-hour celebration dedicated to paying-it-forward and focusing on the good.” The ideas they have on their website to recognize the day are so easy that you could even pick one thing to do today, without having planned for anything.

When you read over the suggestions that the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has to offer - share a kindness quote on social media, take care of yourself, express your gratitude towards someone in your life, donate to a cause that is important you – they all seems pretty effortless. In fact, they seem so easy that we wonder what would the world be like if we approached every day as World Kindness Day?

How would you be different if you were kind to yourself every day? If you got enough sleep, if you fueled your body with healthy food, if you spoke to yourself lovingly?

How would your relationships be different if you told those around you that you appreciate them and shared exactly why?

How could the causes and organizations you believe in grow if you donated even a week’s worth of coffee money to them?

We think – maybe even know – that you, those around you, and those causes you support would actually flourish from all of that consistent kindness.

So let today be a day to put kindness out into the world. And let tomorrow and all the other days after be more of the same.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

#Day7 and Community

It’s pretty awesome, the new and powerful relationships that develop during the Institute. There is a sense of community that is unique to the Institute. And it is pretty amazing that something so deep and special can be created in only 6 days together.

Then there is the task of maintaining that community after everyone has said their “see ya laters” and gone back to their daily lives. The idea of Day 7, of staying in action after the Institute, includes the community and relationships that were forged during the experience. It is up to all of us to continue the joyful work of community and relationship strengthening.

Do you still feel that sense of community with your fellow LeaderShapers? We hope so! In case a little nudge is needed in this area, we have some ideas.

From Facebook groups to group texts to blogging and beyond, technology can provide a great platform to stay connected - or at least up-to-date on what is going on in one another’s lives. Finding a platform that works for you can be an easy way to stay in touch with the community you helped to build at the Institute.

Although there is no way to recreate what happened at the Institute, coming together with folks who have that shared experience can be energizing. And motivating! And inspiring! Whether it is a formal gathering complete with a program of events or a relaxed get-together, pulling as many people together as possible can remind us of the work that began at the Institute and compel us to continue on in that work together.

You don’t have to get the entire group back together to benefit from the community that was created during the Institute. Spending time with those you connected with in a more personal manner has its perks. Make time for an in-person conversation. Allow yourself to be open to developing deeper relationships.

Take action - together! The theme on day 6 of the Institute is Staying in Action. Getting together to participate in a service project, get to work on your manageable goals, brainstorm ways in which you can activate your passions can bring your closer to one another and make a difference in your community. Do something and do it together.

Are there other ways that the LeaderShapers from your session keep your community connected and active? Share them with us in the comments.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Palmer Award: Finalists Spotlight, Part 3

Each year, through the Palmer Award application process, we learn about amazing LeaderShapers who are out doing good work. Earlier this month we announced the 2015 recipient, Carolina Ruggero. Now we'd like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the work of this year's group of finalists. Here are two more of the six Palmer Award finalists:

Naomi Maisel, a senior from Emory University, is committed to ending hunger. She's taking a step towards that close to home, through Campus Kitchens Emory (CKE). The executive board is ServSafe certified, allowing them to legally handle food, purchase carrying containers, purchase dry goods, secure community partners, and organize logistics for pick-ups, drop-offs, and cooking shifts.

In six months, the group donated over 2,000 nutritious meals to four shelters and/or kitchens in the Atlanta area. These efforts are also impacting the Emory community as people are being introduced to new concepts around food, nutrition, and waste. 

Naomi's passion for her cause has only increased since establishing a chapter of CKE and she plans to continue her education, focusing on food insecurity, income disparity, and the health impacts of nutrition and hunger. 

Ousmane Kabre, from the University of Wisconsin and a native of West Africa, "envisions a restored Africa where individuals of ages are striving to take control of their education, supporting their communities, and contributing to the economic development of a nation." 

As a boy, access to education was difficult to attain and required Ousame to begin working at age 12. This experience is an influential factor on his goal for his fellow Africans to have access to education. 

Founding the organization Leading Change on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus is helping to move forward this goal. After considering some of the challenges the people of Africa face, Ousame and his teammates are working to create an IT-based library to overcome the computer gap, to extend current libraries to support higher education, and are working to establish a technical college accessible to low-income families. They have facilitated a partnership with Lycée Municipal Vénégrée and are eager to implement the first phase of their pilot program - creating a classroom of 42 students with internet connection provided by the government. 

In case you missed it, you can learn more about finalists Anastasia Ostrwoski and David Chen in this post and Alyse Ruriani and Lily Daigle here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Palmer Award: Finalist Spotlight, Part 2

Each year, through the Palmer Award application process, we learn about amazing LeaderShapers who are out doing good work. Earlier this month we announced the 2015 recipient, Carolina Ruggero. Now we'd like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the work of this year's group of finalists. Here are two more of the six Palmer Award finalists:

Alyse Ruriani, a student from the Maryland Institute College of Art who attended the Baltimore Collegetown Network's session of the Institute, wants "people to see the relationship between art and healing and how that can increase awareness, decrease stigma, and provide effective therapy for those who suffer from these disorders."

In an effort to bring about this awareness and creative expression, Alyse presented an art exhibition in Baltimore. "The Unquiet Mind: A Visual Exploration of Mental Illness" featured artists' work as well as their thoughts on mental illness and art. Also included were local and national mental health resources and reflection pages for anyone who needed to process feelings triggered by the exhibition. Additionally, the exhibit "challenged viewers to confront something so stigmatized."

Following the show, Alyse started a chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to continue this work around art and healing.

From Carnegie Mellon University, Lily Daigle's experience of losing her father to a long-term illness at age 9 is what inspired her vision. She credits her ability to move through her journey of grief to a strong support system of friends and family and an experience attending a bereavement camp.

Lily wants to create a future where no child has to go through the grief process alone. She believes that all children in such circumstances deserve the chance to connect with others who are going through the same thing, helping them to realize that they are not alone. She also understands how important it is that these children deserve a chance to "just be a kid again."

Enter Camp Kesem Carnegie Mellon. In August, Lily served as Director of the camp and worked with a team of 30 counselors and staff to host 20 campers. This opportunity was supported by the $30,000 that was raised from individual donors, fundraisers on campus, a crowd-funding campaign, and a matching grant from Highmark. The goal for next year is 40 campers and $40,000. 

For a look into the experience of Camp Kesem Carnegie Mellon, check out their video:

In case you missed it, you can learn more about finalists Anastasia Ostrwoski and David Chen in this post

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Palmer Award: Finalist Spotlight, Part 1

Each year, through the Palmer Award application process, we learn about amazing LeaderShapers who are out doing good work. Earlier this month we announced the 2015 recipient, Carolina Ruggero. Now we'd like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the work of this year's group of finalists. Here are two of the six Palmer Award finalists:

Let's introduce Anastasia Ostrowski from the University of Michigan.

Anastasia is eager for students to be exposed to engineering principles as early as elementary school. She wants to inspire and encourage students to to pursue engineering. Towards that effort, she and her friend Anya have partnered to become co-directors of Elementary Engineering Partnerships (EEP). They are constructing curriculum that will introduce students to important engineering concepts such as collaboration, problem identification, design brainstorming and evaluation, and idea communication. 

Anastasia and EEP have established a partnership with Ann Arbor STEAM School (A2STEAM), recruited 16 undergraduate students representing seven fields of engineering, and received funding from the University of Michigan's Center for Entrepreneurship Jumpstart Grant program. They are launching their program with 4th and 5th grade classrooms at A2STEAM.

Another of our finalists is David Chen, from York University in Canada. David is passionate that no youth, in particular those battling depression, be uninspired to overcome their hurdles. 

David and a group of 12 like-minded people from across Ontario have come together to create the organization You Inspire Youth. The team works to inspire young people around the world through "capturing people's stories through cinematic interviews." 

You can find You Inspire Youth's videos on their YouTube page. And you can view on video right here: