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What I have learned from the Rhode Island Fellows
By Jill Pfitzenmayer / August 1, 2014 /   Loading Disqus...

I’ve had the privilege of working with the executives from the Rhode Island Foundation Fellows program for the past six years. Fellows are nominated by their peers for this unique leadership development opportunity and go through a competitive application process before acceptance into the program. The goal is to provide executives with an opportunity to reflect, refresh and renew. Fellows construct a series of activities that offer new challenges; some Fellows travel, some developed new interests or skills, but all Fellows report that the experience enhanced their growth and had a positive impact on their organization.

Listening to their stories and experiences, I have learned that our nonprofit executives are a passionate, talented and tireless group of leaders. Here are some of their teachings:

  • Courage is required from good leaders. Many Fellows talked about crucible moments during their tenure as executives and how very hard it was to summon the courage to make tough decisions. They often surprised themselves by taking an unpopular stand and getting to the other side of a courageous act. Most did not know how strong they could be.
  • There are always options, and good leaders surface good options. Fellows talked about how it can sometimes feel as through realistic choices are blocked, and how hard it can be when feeling between a rock and a hard place. But using new strategies developed throughout the program, many Fellows found creative and innovative options where they thought there were none.
  • With hard work must come play. This was a challenge for many Fellows, who often entwined their personal lives with their professional identities. The need to bring joy and play into their lives was a key learning for many Fellows, and a good reminder for all of us.

Thank you, Fellows, for your leadership and your lessons!

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