What Our Fellows Tell Us About Our Programs and Their Impacts

Below are selected comments from members of various classes from both the Emerging Leaders Program (2002-2008) and the Louisiana Effective Leadership Program (2008-2010). We believe they accurately reflect the experience of most Fellows in these two programs. We have not identified quotes by Fellows’ names in the third and last section because the quotes were made after only the initial Retreat (with nearly a year to go).

Quotes from Alumni/ae of the Emerging Leaders Program:

The Most Reverend Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, 2003-04 Fellow: “The program’s impact on my inherent views and practice as a leader is immeasurable and continues to grow.”

Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, 2004-05 Fellow:“The integrity of the program, the quality of instructors…makes it one of the best programs I have ever been involved in.”

General Ntsiki Motumi, first female general officer, South Africa Defence Force, 2005-06 Fellow: "My experience in the ELP has been very enriching. It has changed me for the better and prepared me for the next mountains to climb…”

Reginald Stanley, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Calvert Investments, 2006-07 Fellow: “The program helped me to think through the sometimes conflicting intersections of private virtues, profits and interests and public values, compassion and human development, helping me to focus on serving those who have the least control and means to manage.”

Yolie Flores Aguilar, Vice President, Board of Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, 2005-06 Fellow: “I learned that acquiring the skills and capacities of a transformative leader is a lifelong journey, requiring you to be fully present and willing to serve others first and to lead second.”

Esther Benjamin, Director of Global Operations, United States Peace Corps, 2003-04 Fellow: “By far the most holistic leadership development program….[The] emphasis on values and ethics is unique.”

Ashley Shelton, Vice President for Programs, Louisiana Disaster Recover Foundation, 2005-04 Fellow: “This experience has profoundly changed my life and given me the ability to move forward with purpose and meaning.”

Dr. Christopher Howard, President, Hampden-Sydney College, 2003-04 Fellow: “The…program demands that its Fellows perform two of the most difficult tasks a leader is asked to do: listen and serve.”

Bill Buckner, Director, Practice Development for Casey Strategic Consulting and Member, Management Committee, Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2007-08 Fellow: “As a result of ELP, others have said that I more naturally and actively step into leadership roles, independent of positional power.  The program surpassed both my high expectations and all the praise I heard about it from others. I am a better person for it.”

Rocky Galloway, Account Manager, Hewlitt-Packard, 2006-07 Fellow: “As a result of ELP, my managerial solutions now are more encompassing of the entire person and situation…”

Sherece West, President, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, and former CEO, Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, 2003-04 Fellow:I had a life-changing year based on the knowledge and experience I gained through the program.”

Mark Constantine, author and Senior Fellow, The Jesse Ball DuPont Foundation, 2006-07 Fellow: “Being in the room with leaders from the governmental, corporate, nonprofit, philanthropic sectors helped me understand the critical need for honest, critical, and reflective conversations across sectors as communities work to address fundamental questions of equity and justice…” 

Margarita  Rubalcava,  Program Manager, Four Freedoms Fund, 2005-06 Fellow: “Most leadership programs focus on skills [and] what I like about ELP is its focus on character.”

Tony Ehrenreich, Secretary General, Congress of South Africa Trade Unions, Western Cape, 2003-04 Fellow: “ELP teaches leaders - including those who emerge from social struggle and form grassroots organizations - the reality that leadership is a way of being as well as a science...and always an incredible responsibility.”

Quotes from Alumni/ae of the first class of the Louisiana Effective Leadership Program:

Nancy Montoya, Senior Regional Community Development Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (New Orleans), 2008-09 Fellow: “….a one-of-a kind, life-changing experience. Most other leadership programs focus on ‘management technique’ and ‘leadership style’ rather than the excavation and refinement of personal values that drive leadership momentum…”

Jessica Venegas, Field Manager, UNITY of Greater New Orleans, 2008-09 Fellow: “This Fellowship is a gift that I will always value….It was invaluable to have the time, space and resources to focus for a year’s time on why leadership is important in different contexts and what my role is in each of them….[It] provided me a tool kit for leadership.”

Terri Porche Ricks, General Counsel, Louisiana Housing Finance Agency: “I've grown through the program….My approach to team meetings and the manner that I present information now is more thoughtful and has a bent towards empowerment and inclusiveness….I feel we had a perfect balance of types and personalities and experiences.”

Damon Batiste, President, Nosaconn Inc.: "A great experience….a great development tool for future leaders.”

Lona Hankins, Director of Capital Improvement, State of Louisiana Recovery School District and former British Petroleum executive: “This leadership training was unlike any training I received during my 19 years in Corporate America…..I learned what it means to operate from [my]…center in a meaningful way.”

Calvin Mackie, President & CEO, Channel  ZerO Group: “The program addressed issues of leadership that otherwise go unaddressed in training. Who you are and how you   inject who you are, are just as important as how you do it…. As Iron sharpens Iron, bringing…leaders together from different arenas allowed us to sharpen each other.”

Angela Lee, Assistant Superintendant, East Baton Rouge Parish School System: “The [program’s] most important lesson is to ‘know thyself.’ Leaders must have a set of values by which they live and operate. Among those values should evolve the idea of social justice....what I do as a leader is not about me, but about making a difference for the greater good….I have accomplished more in the last few months than I have in a long time….I have never had a life changing experience such as this one. I am rejuvenated and resolute in my values.” 

James Gilmore, Director of Volunteer Louisiana, Office of the Lieutenant Governor: “Well organized; meaningful content; life changing.”

Eric Lewis, Managing Partner, Sable International: “The program will serve as a milestone in my overall development.”

Professor Leslie Jones, Coordinator, Graduate Studies, Nicholls State University: “The…program assisted in facilitating professional and personal growth….providing parameters for individuals to engage in true self-reflection.”

Quotes from Fellows in the second (2009-10) class of the Louisiana Effective Leadership Program:

“… the retreat simply left me inspired.”

“The retreat and required readings taught me to think about the notion of leadership as a way of being and to view leadership in a new light.”

“This [opening Retreat] was a much needed opportunity to take a step back from all of the competing demands of life, both professional and personal and take time to re-energize.”

“I left feeling improved as a person while also becoming more knowledgeable about servant leadership.
It was also a great networking experience.”

“The tone, atmosphere, and substantive information [were] crafted in such a manner that [they] worked to enhance and stimulate understanding of concepts. While the concepts were not entirely new they were presented in a fashion that brought them to light in very new, interesting, and refreshing ways.”

“[O]ne of the most critical things I learned is that being a student of leadership includes taking active control of that learning process, not just receiving 'how to' information.”

“I learned to think more about my own ethical code in my capacity of working for a larger company.  I liked the lessons about authenticity.”

“… the community that was built [out of] sharing many similar feelings and experiences with how we each individually deal with leadership. There is so much to learn from our peers that we often forget in our work lives.”

“The retreat has also helped me think more broadly about the work I am doing and what the long-term trajectory of my involvement in social justice work might look like.”

“I have made some noticeable changes already in terms of my management style. In the past I would be quick to process and judge, which effected employee morale and at times branded me as a tough boss. I now slow down a bit...or after my quick rush to judgement, I talk things out and offer advice or have an honest conversation about the issue at hand. I've been trying to develop my own coaching ability for my staff.”

“The retreat experience is helping me to think about the various situations occurring around me, especially on the job, and recognize the authority I have to make decisive decisions rather than assuming things are out of my control.”

“Although I participate in several networks and collaborations, after the first retreat I began to view them and my participation in them more positively, and I have been more engaged these collaborations.  My coaching sessions have been very helpful in rethinking some challenging behaviors.”

“I have gained a new respect for others and more sensitive to the struggle and issues faced by my peers.”

“The importance of active listening has been essential for me. I don't look at my blackberry as much during meetings, I try to come to the table without pre-convinced notions of what others are saying.”

“The retreat is already showing up in my life in major ways. While I was at the retreat I was struggling with what it means to have certain values that stopped me from "transacting" with other organizations, foundations and other actors. Now, I believe that if I want my work to grow then I have to engage more with people while still holding my values.”

“[I learned that] leaders can be silent and in the background actively getting things done. Leaders are on the forefront of change but not necessarily the forefront of attention. I can make a difference without being in the spotlight, I can make a difference by learning and acting on behalf of those more silent than me, I can make a difference through listening and acceptance that there is more than one right way, I can make a difference through small steps that lead to larger step without having to jump. Any steps I take make a difference more than if I stand still and do nothing. I am practicing how not to judge make snap judgments and judge the book by its cover, that everybody has a story that helped them to arrive at a view.”

“I am a MUCH better active listener. I feel a greater calmness in day to day matters. I feel better about stating my points of view because I am NOT in a contest. I am trying to arrive at a decision not win a race. I find though that by listening I am able to better respond to issues raised by others; I am better in tune even with and not afraid to ask about the unspoken concerns that or often a part of contentious discussions.”