What is your story? Or in other words, what made you your awesome self you are today?
I found a field I was passionate about and that fit my talents at an early age. It was more by accident than by design, but it has worked out well for me. I have been an organization development (OD) and learning professional for coming up on 27 years. The OD values of respect, inclusion, collaboration, authenticity, self-awareness and empowerment fit the way I approach my work and my life.
I became aware of “exclusion” at an early age. As a little white girl of maybe four or five years old, I asked for a black doll. The reaction I got was, “why would you want that doll?” This fueled a lifelong quest to create an inclusive environment where all voices could be heard, and where I notice who is not in the conversation. I also see the connectedness of things – talents, resources, concepts, energy, etc. Sometimes I may be a quiet observer, especially in group interactions, but that helps me see that we are all part of something bigger than what’s visible, and I try to draw connections that others sometimes miss.
What message does Psychological Associates like to promote?
Organizations thrive with Q4 Leadership – that means there is focus on both results and regard for people. While I haven’t been at Psychological Associates long, I was attracted to the organization’s strong reputation for excellence and the Q4 Dimensional Model. It’s such a practical tool for organizing one’s approach to individual, team, or organizational excellence.
In what capacity do you LEAD UP in your community?
I see my professional community as OD practitioners and my personal community as St. Louis, MO. Within the OD community I serve on the national OD Network Board of Trustees and I lead the St. Louis OD Network. Through board work and strong development programs, I help to ensure that our membership (including myself) are continually learning and growing. A highlight at the recent national ODN conference was participating in a pro bono consulting day with local nonprofit organizations.
In St. Louis, I have volunteered with several organizations in the past (United Way, St. Louis Effort for Aids, and Anti-Defamation League’s A World of Difference Institute). For a brief period, I moved away from St. Louis and lived in Michigan. During those years, Michael Brown’s death rocked the nation. I was drawn back to St. Louis to get involved in some of the healing. While I haven’t yet gotten involved at the level I intended, I’ve chosen to focus my efforts on my own neighborhood, a community called Botanical Heights, that many would argue has been gentrified. There is still a lot of diversity in the neighborhood, and I have planned events aimed at bringing the community together. These include a book club series where we read books that highlight social justice issues.
Peter Block, a noted author and organization consultant who now focuses on community building, said, “How do you change the world? One room at a time. Which room? The one you're in.” I live by this, along with the butterfly effect – doing small good things can have a ripple effect.
In business and/or in life, share a struggle you overcame that other women can relate to?
It is okay to say “no.” Peter Block also said, “If we cannot say ‘no’ then our ‘yes’ has no meaning.” It is okay to focus on a few important things that feed our souls, and to do so without feeling guilt over not being able to do everything everyone asks of us, or everything on our to-do lists.
Did you have a Mentor, Coach or Sponsor along the way that was essential to your growth and success? If so, who was it and why?
Absolutely – a lifetime of them. The idea of a personal board of directors is attractive to me. While I may not have deliberately stated it as such, I have been blessed to have an ever-changing cadre of individuals who have served as a personal board of directors. They have provided support in a variety of ways – they’ve given social support and stress relief, they’ve been my cheerleaders, they’ve challenged me, helped me grow intellectually and as a person, given me career advice, helped me network, taught me new things, etc.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do at Psychological Associates?
I get to work with individuals, teams and organizations to bring out their best so they can thrive.