Empowered Leaders

By Giving List Staff   |   January 2, 2021

Nonprofit leaders make it their personal mission to serve others, and in doing so, too often lose sight of themselves. Burnout or worse, anemic leadership, results in ineffective nonprofits that don’t do what they were built to do: uplift the community.

Five years into his tenure as the first staff and executive director of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, Ed France was drained. “I was out of energy,” he says. “I was just done.”

But there was an intervention: Leading From Within – a nonprofit itself – bent on fostering “a dynamic network of public-minded leaders who know each other, trust each other, and are better able to work together to improve our communities.”

Founded in 2008, Leading From Within has delivered four intensive programs aimed at building up executives, mid-level staff, nonprofit volunteers, and those interested in community impact to more than 500 social sector leaders.

France took part in the group’s 18-month Courage to Lead program, where expert facilitators led him and other nonprofit executives through group sessions, poetry readings, and journaling all aimed at reinvigoration.

“The program reconnected me with why I was doing the work,” France says. “It rekindled my passion.”

The results were undeniable. In short order, the bike coalition raised enough money to buy a building, set up centers at Santa Barbara City College and in Santa Maria all while launching programs in local elementary schools.

The experience was so vital to France’s professional growth that he decided to join Leading From Within as its executive director in 2020.

Beyond his own personal growth, France points to the unparalleled nonprofit network that Leading From Within has developed in its 12 years, and that network’s capacity to respond to any crisis that affects the community.

“Empowered leaders who build relationships of trust can collaborate for much more meaningful change,” France says.

As France sees it, investing in local leaders ensures that Santa Barbara County’s rising stars stay bright, and their nonprofits work together to make the community stronger.


Leading From Within

Phone: (805) 203-6940
Executive Director: Ed France


Investing in leaders that serve the public good.
We live in a region filled with dedicated leaders who give their whole selves towards improving our communities, but, sadly, who too often work in an environment of scarcity, isolation and competition. We need social sector leaders who are prepared, renewed, connected and collaborating, and who represent the broad diversity of our region.
At Leading From Within, we foster a dynamic network of public-minded leaders who know each other, trust each other, and are better able to work together to improve our communities. This investment better ensures that leaders can address some of society’s more persistent challenges.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.

“Our local nonprofit organizations are an integral part of the fabric that makes Santa Barbara special. Leading From Within provides the critical training that enables the talented and passionate people who lead those organizations to continually increase their effectiveness. I donate to Leading From Within so that more of our dedicated nonprofit leaders are able to have access to its excellent programs.”
– Maryan Schal

What Impact Will My Gift Have?

$5,000 – Fully invest in transformative work by sponsoring a social sector leader in one of our programs.
$2,500 – Offset the cost of a leadership program that promotes professional and personal growth of rising social sector leaders.
$1,000 – Provide new learning material and resources for our alumni communities committed to self growth.
$500 – Support our Leader Circles of peer learning within our network built on deep and intimate trust.

Board of Directors

Ben Romo
Jennifer Reitz
Jim Morouse
Ken Saxon, Founder and Board Chair
Lois Mitchell
Michael Medel
Paul Lynch
Rebecca Anderson
Saul Serrano
Sigrid Wright
Victoria Juarez