Tag Archives: leaders

EYC 2.0: Endowment for Youth Committee Looks Beyond Money to Provide Long-Term Opportunity

The Endowment for Youth Committee is one of the oldest nonprofits serving the needs of African American students and the greater Black community on the Central Coast, with a history that dates back 35 years. But before Guy R. Walker stepped in as executive director in 2015, the EYC had struggled to continue as a viable nonprofit with a previous talent drain on the board requiring an experienced leader to mount the resurrection. 

Walker, founder, and president of Wealth Management Strategies, a boutique financial advisory firm based in Santa Ynez, more than fit the bill. Not only had he benefitted from even broader assistance from a similar organization that enabled him to attend the Dunn School, the elite private boarding school in Los Olivos, but he also had a drive to pass along his skills to the next generation, particularly in an area where the African American population is just a tiny fraction compared to the percentage in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton where he came from.

“Surprisingly, there are fewer African American families in Santa Barbara now than there were 30 years ago,” Walker said. “It was closer to three percent when EYC started, but today it’s just a little bit above one percent.”

That decline is partly why EYC had been slowly fading.

So, Walker and his new community leader colleagues on the nonprofit’s board took the reins with a mandate to reconstitute the program for current times.

“It’s what I describe as EYC 2.0,” Walker said. “In the past the committee was much more of a direct-service, hands-on organization, but now it’s less hands-on and more advocacy, more partnerships, listening to families and students in terms of what their challenges are and how we can support them or direct them where they can get what they need.”

Sure, the main thrust of EYC still falls under the “E” in the nonprofit’s name: endowing young African American students from sixth grade through college who demonstrate the intellectual aptitude, personal resilience, and social responsibility for success and want help in maximizing their personal potential. The financial support totaled some $65,000 this year, and the 23 students who have received financial support from EYC this academic year will be recognized in a virtual presentation on June 30 that will be open to the public via Zoom — the first planned annual celebration that Walker sees as an effort to connect EYC with the larger community.

Among those speaking will be Walker to introduce EYC and its mission, as well LaDonte King, the chair of the Student Success Committee, an academic consultant and former assistant director for government affairs at UCSB; and Dr. Christopher Johnson, the chair of the scholarship committee who is SBCC’s Associate Dean of Educational Programs. 

“The intent is to recognize all of the students and their families on the call,” Walker said. 

But from Walker’s perspective, giving back and making a difference means a lot more than just handing out dollars to underprivileged youth.

“The money piece is always easier to talk about in terms of impact, but if you just throw money at kids, that’s not going to help enough,” he said. “It’s also about how do you navigate? How do you find what your passion is? It’s not life success if you are just hanging out in the corporate building without understanding the structure and the people. So, we want to talk about how you get comfortable living in a community of people who do not look like you and do not seem to respond. How do you become a part of the community?”

Walker points to himself as an example, having lived in a number of communities where he has been “in or out of the (majority) number.” He’s proud to note that he and his wife became a strong part of the community in Santa Barbara County, and raised two children in Santa Ynez. 

“They’re out in the world working and enjoying life. But the question is, who is showing other young people how to do that? In this community, it’s the Endowment for Youth.”

So, among the other aspects of EYC 2.0 is EYC Presents, an outreach effort that basically brought Walker full circle, as the guest for the premiere last month was Kalyan Balaven, the incoming Head of School at Dunn, who talked about inclusion fits into Dunn’s mission to deliver whole student education, and ensure that every child feels seen, heard, and valued. The conversation with James Joyce III, founder of Coffee With a Black Guy, also addressed how an inclusion model can help to build more resilient communities, a mission close to Walker’s heart. (The recording is available for on-demand viewing on Dunn’s YouTube channel.) 

“The purpose of that platform is to make sure that when an executive level African Americans moves to town to take a position here in the county that they are properly introduced to Santa Barbara. We want to help them learn who are the players they need to know, where they go to get stuff done,” Walker explained. “It goes both ways. We want the community to get to know them, too. EYC Presents wants to take that on.”  

Which is why the event took place at the Lobero Theatre as perhaps the first publicly attended program in more than a year.

“The target audience was decision makers in the education space, the business space, the political space, the social justice space, and nonprofit space,” Walker said. “Who also actually ended up showing up were people from all over the country who got a chance to meet and see Kal, who is a leader in education and the concept of inclusion. Since that Zoom event, there are already collaborations that are being formed between Dunn School, Kal Balaven, Santa Barbara Unified School District, Santa Barbara Middle School, and on and on.

“I’m proud to say that Endowment for Youth is how the community gets to know this guy. That’s a piece of doing our part to contribute in developing more leaders.”

EYC is staking out a position to supplement its original purpose of providing financial support to African American students that encompasses much more of the Black experience in Santa Barbara and ways to ensure success.

“We’re interested in providing community engagement as it pertains to issues that impact African Americans locally and nationally, and EYC is also a resource for understanding opportunities and uplifting for African American students addressing real-life objectives,” Walked said. “That’s how we do our part to support the larger Santa Barbara community.” •MJ

For more information
Website: www.endowmentforyouth.com
Phone number: (805) 691-9758

Women In Leadership: A Discussion Hosted By Leading From Within And Touchstone Central Coast

In honor of Women’s History Month, local nonprofit, Leading From Within, joined with Touchstone Central Coast to host a virtual presentation and panel discussion recently called Women in Leadership: A Discussion for Everyone.

“The pandemic of 2020, unfortunately, has created a loss of nearly 3 million women in the workforce,” explained Touchstone Central Coast co-creator Emily Smith. 

“This past year threatens to wipe out all the progress made over the last several decades to close the gender gaps and if not addressed will exacerbate existing inequalities,” she urged.  Smith facilitated the discussion along with co-creator and business partner Diane Adam, a Leading From Within Katherine Harvey Fellows alumna.

The presentation and panel provided an outline for “Servant Leadership,” a model that empowers the team over the individual and examined how to support and create more positive environments for women in the workforce. 

Panelists included Connie Alexander, founder/co-executive director of Gateway Educational Services; Nancy Gastelum, associate professional clinical counselor and nonprofit executive; Petra Gomez, Ed.D candidate at USC and program manager, the Santa Barbara Foundation; Sarah Kirwan, CEO/founder of Eye Level Communications; Pamela Macal, CEO McDonald’s Central Coast; Simonne Mitchelson, South Coast estate manager for Jackson Family Wines; and Sevelyn VanRonk, Ph.D candidate at Claremont Graduate University and senior manager of People Strategy of BlueShield, CA.

“Covid-19 has disrupted the workplace in ways we’ve never seen before,” said Smith. “The boundaries between work and home have blurred, workplace structures have shifted, employees lost jobs experiencing financial distress, and burnout has become rampant.” 

Smith says it’s been particularly challenging for women who were more likely to be laid-off or furloughed, and who often struggle more intensely with the balance of childcare and work.

“We expect women to work like they don’t have children and raise children as if they don’t work,” was a quote attributed to Amy Westervelt and used in the presentation to demonstrate some of the challenges that women face.

These challenges can present an opportunity to reevaluate and restore critical leadership qualities. Smith queried the 90 zoom participants who shared qualities that they believe define a strong leader, and discussed timeless leadership attributes and the benefits of a service leader mindset.  

First coined by AT&T executive Robert K. Greenleaf, servant leadership turns the idea of traditional workplace leadership on its head, focusing on empowering and uplifting others rather than commanding from a position of power or authority.

“Servant leaders prioritize other people’s well-being and growth, share power, and enable their team to grow, develop and perform to the best of their ability,” said Smith. This approach aims to increase retention rates, provide greater collaboration, create a more positive work environment, support a culture of belonging and foster leadership everywhere. 

The presentation focused on increasing and honoring women in the workplace; Smith noted that companies that don’t encourage women to join them are missing out on talents and abilities of over half the population. 

“Multiplicity of perspectives can spark creativity and innovation and inclusivity boosts morale and opportunity,” she said. She quoted a study by management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company that found the most gender-diverse companies are 21 percent more likely to experience above average profitability.

A panel of female leaders candidly shared thoughts and experiences after the 40-minute presentation, reflecting upon their own successes, challenges and sources of inspiration. 

VanRonk revealed a core message learned from her mentor: that when we say yes to things that are draining us, we have less time for things that could benefit us. “No is a complete sentence.”

“The best leadership gift we have is our time,” said Macal.  “How you choose to spend time with your people and how you choose to make time for your family are integral,” she said, noting that showing up, being supportive and making time for Sunday family dinners is essential.

Alexander, who is participating in the Courage to Lead program at Leading From Within, shared wisdom that she refers to as “holy boldness.”  “In navigating situations, you have to be able to acknowledge and name things that you perceive as wrong because if you don’t then you end up pushing back, and so the lesson I learned is to walk right into those tough conversations and show up with some holy boldness,” she explained. 

Kirwan shared a story about the mentor at her first job out of college and how her female boss instructed her solely on what to wear (stockings, suit and heels). It’s a lesson that’s informed her own mentorship style, which Kirwan says concentrates on empowerment, building confidence, having empathy and teaching young woman to own their value — with or without the heels.

The panel also shared impressions of what Leading with Love means to them. “Being honest, having integrity, and giving back to the community by providing resources and support to others,” said Gomez.

“Self-care is critical,” said Mitchelson, who candidly shared that she always felt “other” coming from an immigrant family raised in a majority white Michigan town. This feeling followed her to the Central Coast where she said it’s difficult to find people who look like her in management, or even in the wine tasting rooms. “It’s important to know and love yourself and to bring that love into your leadership.”

Gastelum stressed the importance of mental health, crediting her own meditation practice with granting her the space to focus and reflect. She also encouraged the value of hope as being a catalyst for vision and fortitude. 

“For me, it’s that loving moment when you can put the oxygen back in the room after watching it go out,” said Alexander. “It’s giving breathe and making space to ensure the little brown girls that I serve get the equity they deserve.” 

Leading From Within was honored to partner with Touchstone Central Coast to offer this forum. The nonprofit has remained active throughout the pandemic by collaborating with other organizations to continue offering learning opportunities for their extensive network of local leaders.  For more information, visit http://leading-from-within.org.

Touchstone Central Coast provides support and training to individuals and organizations desiring to learn, grow, and lead with a servant’s heart. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit https://www.touchstonecc.com.

Empowered Leaders

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.