Nonprofit leaders build capacity, connectivity, and wellbeing through resilience program
Above: During an Essential Worker Celebration in May 2022, Dress for Success Pittsburgh provided their mobile services to employees within the Butler Health System.
When Tanya Vokes was invited to participate in New Sun Rising’s Nonprofit Resilience Program, the first thing she thought was “I don’t have time for this.”
Vokes, the CEO of Dress for Success Pittsburgh, said a lot of nonprofit leaders, like herself, are pulled in so many different directions and taking on a three month program was a big commitment, but she convinced herself to do it.
“Once I did get involved, I was really happy with the results of the program,” Vokes said. “Right away it was a super supportive environment. Jamie is amazing, and the other nonprofit leaders who were in the cohort were really authentic and brought their true selves to the sessions.”
The Nonprofit Resilience Program (NRP), with the fourth cohort wrapping up in March, is led by New Sun Rising (NSR) Director of Programs Jamie Johnson. (This is the third cohort sponsored by Staunton Farm Foundation.) Recognizing the health of an organization and the mental health of a nonprofit leader are intrinsically intertwined, the NRP begins with one-on-one self-care coaching and an Emotional Intelligence Assessment with development sessions created based on the results.
This opportunity for self awareness and acceptance, and to work through things in a formal way, was a particularly important piece of the program for Vokes.
“We tend to think we’re doing an alright job, but maybe we aren’t necessarily fully thinking through those [cause and effect] pieces, so having the opportunity to do that with like minded individuals, who have the same challenges as it relates to making time for ourselves as leaders, was really valuable to me.”
Anthony Harper, co-founder and lead instructor at Beta Builders, said the second phase of the program around strengthening connectivity through peer relationships was the highlight for him. He said he’s only been in the nonprofit space for a couple years, and “it was nice to get collective insight from people who have been doing it for awhile.”
Based on the initial goals and phases identified by The Partnership Network, a partner and advisor on this program, the sharing of collective experiences based on empathy and honesty helps participants better manage adversity in the future. For Harper, this ran parallel with his experience.
“Being able to reach out to people who are having the same experiences… and they can share with me different ways they’ve coped with situations and how they were able to move forward, it’s really been a support system for me,” Harper said.
This program came at a transitional time for June Hicks, development manager at Greater Valley Community Services. She said it wasn’t what she was expecting, given the state of the current virtual training world, but the NRP breakout rooms, open feedback, and bonding was “refreshing” and she “looked forward to each session.”
“The information I received made me align my future goals for the next chapter in my life,” Hicks said.
Click here to learn more about the NRP and here to learn about the third Northside cohort.