Meet the 2021 Breakout Speakers

Speakers & Sessions Announced for 2021 Nonprofit Leadership Conference

Team NLC News

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that nonprofit leaders must lead bravely and act boldly to move our communities forward. We’ll explore how to do just that at the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s 2021 Leadership Conference on October 13, presented by Bank of America. Experts in leadership, organizational culture, change management, communications, and diversity, equity and inclusion will help you develop the skills and confidence you and your team need to strengthen your organization and our communities.

In addition to this year’s highly anticipated keynote speakers Dr. Shirley Davis and Jon Acuff, conference attendees will have the opportunity to attend powerful breakout sessions.

Breakout Sessions & Speakers

We’re pleased to announce the first three breakout sessions at the 2021 NLC Leadership Conference! Check back soon as we announce additional speakers and sessions.

Creating Innovative Partnerships that Drive Greater Social Impact with Tammy Charles

Tammy Charles, MBA, trainer at the Nonprofit Leadership Center

To solve our communities’ most pressing issues, we must think differently about innovation and collaboration. In this session, we will discuss specific actions that nonprofits and businesses can take now to build, facilitate and reimagine cross-sector relationships to advance systemic change. You will learn about traditional and emerging models for effective social impact through partnerships, strategic alliances and other key social impact models.

After attending this breakout session, you will:

  • Know what social innovation means and how to make a stronger case for collaboration
  • Have tangible and practical steps your organization can take to forge stronger partnerships
  • Understand the partnership models that are changing the way organizations address social problems
  • Walk away with effective tools to manage and evaluate the effectiveness of your partnerships

Tammy Charles, MBA, is a nationally recognized and award-winning social change strategist and the founder and chief strategist at Inovo Strategic Consulting, a global consulting firm that helps purpose-driven leaders create innovative and profitable business models to pursue social change. Her passion for community impact and development has allowed her to train, consult and coach more than 1,000 nonprofits, social enterprises and companies around the world. She has raised more than $10 million to support economic empowerment, social justice, poverty alleviation, health equity, racial justice, social innovation, and more. Additionally, Tammy is a business management, social entrepreneurship and accounting professor at Hillsborough Community College, the University of Tampa and Ultimate Medical Academy.

Great Minds Don’t Think Alike: Nurturing a Culture of Cognitive Diversity with Andrea Cortissoz

Workplace diversity is about more than embracing our visible differences; it’s also about elevating the unique aspects that come from within us. Although cognitive diversity — encouraging all types of voices, experiences, approaches and perspectives — has directly and measurably contributed to the most successful companies on the planet, it is still overlooked by many organizations as they seek to become more diverse. 

During this session, you will learn how to act boldly by strengthening and leveraging the cognitive diversity of your people to fuel individual, team and organizational success.

After this breakout session, you will:

  • Understand what cognitive diversity is and why it matters
  • Be equipped with the latest research and data on cognitive diversity
  • Know what cognitive diversity looks like in action
  • Be able to develop and apply cognitive diversity efforts at your organization

Andrea Cortissoz, CHRL, is the managing partner and co-founder at HR Soul. She is a highly versatile HR business partner and consultant with decades of global, senior-level corporate and consulting experience that includes working with startups, managing business closures and leading organizations through transformation at every stage of the process. Andrea’s work spans countries, industries, organizational size and complexity. She is dedicated to creating cultures that ignite people with both personal and professional purpose that are engaging for all employees.

Bravely Prioritizing Self-Care in a Post-Pandemic World with Rick Bennett

Rick Bennett

Working from home and through our computer screens has radically changed the workplace and our lives. As the most significant shift in most of our lifetimes, it’s critical to understand what our changing world means for the future of our organizations, employees, volunteers, clients and selves.

What are the unintended consequences of “doing our best all the time” or expecting that from others? This session will take an honest approach to our new reality and explore what we can do together to avoid burnout, turnover, and exhaustion for long-term success.

After this breakout session, you will:

  • Have practical ways to take care of yourself and say No in a healthy manner
  • Know how to mobilize tools and advocates for self-care
  • Understand how to empower those around you to take care of themselves and to say No

Rick Bennett manages community development and education for Florida Blue’s West Region, located in Tampa, Florida. A native Floridian, Rick has served as a pastor, nonprofit leader and spiritual care director. His interest and leadership in mindfulness and meditation began in seminary and as he served as a pastor. While a spiritual care director for a local Hospice, Rick received formal training on mindfulness and the dying process. He then took these practices to the business and nonprofit world, leading seminars and trainings, including at Florida Blue. Rick is an active member of several nonprofit boards.


Register Now to Lead Bravely & Act Boldly

The NLC Leadership Conference is the premier event for anyone who works for a nonprofit, wants to work for a nonprofit, serves as a nonprofit board leader or partners with nonprofits. Join hundreds of nonprofit and business leaders virtually on October 13, 2021, to learn from and connect with each other as we work to lead bravely and act boldly.

Button to register for the NLC 2021 Leadership Conference

 

Be the first to know about 2021 Leadership Conference news and other upcoming events for nonprofit leaders by signing up for our email list and following the Nonprofit Leadership Center on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

Introducing the Certificate in Nonprofit Management Class of 2022

Taking Leadership to the Next Level: 10 Nonprofit Leaders to Know

Team NLC News

The past year has been a critical time for nonprofits, as many have fought courageously to keep their communities safe while ensuring their own organizations survive and thrive. Despite the many challenges nonprofits have faced, the Nonprofit Leadership Center saw a 48% increase in professional development participation during 2020 from the previous year, reflecting the promise and power of lifelong learning to address critical issues facing the nonprofit sector and our communities. That momentum is especially apparent in the nonprofit leaders who choose to invest in our shared future as part of the Certificate in Nonprofit Management.

In collaboration with the University of Tampa, the Nonprofit Leadership Center offers a graduate-level Certificate in Nonprofit Management, in which candidates are immersed in a life-changing, 15-month educational experience that explores every aspect of nonprofit leadership while working collaboratively to solve real-world challenges. 

The 2021-22 Certificate in Nonprofit Management program recently launched at the University of Tampa, and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the 10 nonprofit leaders who have chosen to invest in themselves as part of this year’s program.

Meet the Certificate in Nonprofit Management Class of 2022

  • Kayla Boronell, marketing content producer, Metropolitan Ministries     
  • Mason Brady, executive director, Positive Coaching Alliance: Tampa Bay                  
  • Lorinda Gamson, COO, Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County    
  • Meredith Grau, director of clinical services, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay                  
  • Scarlett Haynes, lead agency distribution coordinator, Feeding Tampa Bay                  
  • Michael Maurino, director of transportation and planning, Westshore Alliance                  
  • Jamiel Maze, English instructor, Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School                  
  • Elizabeth Roman, mobile food market director, Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA                  
  • Jackie Swigler, membership and advocacy director, Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger                  
  • Bree Tramontana, manager of volunteer services, Ronald McDonald House                  

READ NEXT: A day-in-the-life of a student in the Certificate in Nonprofit Management program

Learn More about the Certificate in Nonprofit Management

Take the next step in your career and professional development by learning more about the graduate-level Certificate in Nonprofit Management at the University of Tampa and what other leaders are saying about the program.

READ NEXT: Is pursuing a graduate certificate in nonprofit management right for you?


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Reimagining Your Workplace in a Post-Pandemic World

Reimagining Your Workplace in a Post-Pandemic World

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

The way we work has changed significantly since the pandemic began. Working remotely has become the norm and left a strong impression on your people. The daunting question now is: Will you (or how will you) bring your employees back to the office after experiencing a different way to work for so long?

Join us for a free, one-hour virtual workshop to learn how to:

  • Reimagine your workplace in a post-pandemic world
  • Decide if and when to bring people back to a physical office and prepare for their return
  • Set your organization up for success
  • Bring soul to this challenging transition

During this session, you’ll hear about …

  • The new work landscape and potential options you should consider
  • What industry leaders are saying about the future of work and how you can prepare for it
  • The top 10 things to ask yourself when deciding if, how and when to bring people back to your physical location
  • Critical success factors to make it work for your organization

This training is best suited for board members, key organizational stakeholders and decision-makers, human resources leaders and hiring managers, team leaders, and consultants.

Register Now

Reimagining Your Workplace in a Post-Pandemic World

Led by: Andrea Cortissoz, Co-founder and managing partner, HR Soul Consulting

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 | 2-3 p.m. Eastern


Register Now

About Our Presenter

Andrea Cortissoz is the managing partner and co-founder at HR Soul. She is a highly versatile HR business partner and consultant with decades of global, senior-level corporate and consulting experience that includes working with startups, managing business closures and leading organizations through transformation at every stage of the process. Andrea’s work spans countries, industries, organizational size and complexity. She is dedicated to creating cultures that ignite people with both personal and professional purpose that are engaging for all employees.

See more free webinar replays here.

READ NEXT: 4 Critical HR Policies for Nonprofits


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Taghiyaha Wells

Developing & Connecting Tomorrow’s Leaders: Thank You, Taghiyana Wells

Team NLC News

Research shows that 3 in 4 youth are concerned about having the necessary skills to secure a job (i). Additionally, more than half of employers say candidates lack essential skills, like creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management (ii). The Nonprofit Leadership Center is not only a place where nonprofit leaders and board members come to develop their skills and organizations; it’s also a lifelong learning lab for local youth.

As a member of Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School’s Corporate Work Study Program, NLC welcomes high school students — often from households with limited economic means — to gain real-world work experience that prepares them for a bright future.

"The opportunity to work at the Nonprofit Leadership Center for three years is something I will cherish for life." Taghiyana Wells

For the past three years, we’ve had the privilege of having Taghiyana “Taghi” Wells as a student intern at NLC. In her role, she has assisted with preparing for training classes, processing event evaluations, greeting office guests, attending weekly staff meetings and participating in professional development classes. As she prepares to graduate from high school in June, we are grateful to Taghi for her many contributions and are so proud of the bright future that’s ahead of her.

When Taghi is not in class or at work, she has a passion for art and enjoys working with kids to help them express themselves through art.

Taghi recently shared a little more about her experience at NLC and what she’ll be doing next.

What is one thing you’ve learned at NLC that you’ll carry with you?

NLC Trainer Dr. John Loblack once encouraged me to ask myself two questions every day:

1) What did I accomplish today that was better than yesterday?

2) What will I need to do to be better tomorrow?

Those questions have stuck with me.

What accomplishment are you most proud of from the past three years?

I have taken three dual enrollment courses in art as a high school student while juggling my studies and working at the Nonprofit Leadership Center. I’m proud of how I’ve grown.

What will you miss most about working at NLC?

The opportunity to work at the Nonprofit Leadership Center for three years is something I will cherish for life. I had never heard of a place that taught adults and organizations before working at NLC. To me, the classes and trainings NLC offers are beyond beneficial, even being as young as I was taking some of the classes.

I will miss the people who work at NLC most. I started missing them more than a year ago when we could not physically go to the office during the pandemic. I’ll miss seeing their smiling faces and waving at everyone who walked by.

What’s next for you?

This week, I started working at Metropolitan Ministries’ summer camp. I’ll be working with kids, and at the end of camp, I will receive a scholarship to attend St. Petersburg College. This summer, I also plan to create and sell more of my art.

Find Your Next Opportunity

Are you interested in learning about nonprofit jobs and open positions at NLC? Check out our job board, the premier employment destination for professionals of all levels who are interested in working in the nonprofit sector.

(i) Measure of America
(ii) Connecticut Business & Industry Association

Image of an employee handbook | 4 Critical HR Policies for Nonprofit Organizations

Four Critical HR Policies for Nonprofit Organizations

Corban OneSource, NLC Key Partner Tips


How you run your nonprofit organization determines its success, from the employees you hire to the policies and practices you adopt. When it comes to HR policies for nonprofit organizations, there are four human resource practices every nonprofit should have in place to operate ethically and with excellence. Even if your organization already has these HR policies in place, it’s essential to review them regularly to ensure they are up-to-date and effective.

1. Code of Ethics and Conflict of Interest Policies

Nonprofits are particularly at risk for conflicts of interest. What happens if you don’t agree with the business practices of a potential donor? What if a board member operates a business that could help your organization while they profit financially? Nonprofits must take any and every potential conflict of interest seriously. Provide each employee, board member and volunteer with training on your organization’s code of ethics and conflict of interest policies. Inform them about activities or actions that could harm your organization and issues to watch out for. Additionally, establish a process to assess potential conflicts of interest to determine if they are ethical or problematic. This will help your organization and its stakeholders avoid grey areas that could put your nonprofit at risk.

READ NEXT: Reducing Your Nonprofit’s Risk: Trends to Anticipate and How to Tackle Them

2. Staff Promotion and Compensation Policies

Every nonprofit should have a written policy for how its employees receive promotions and compensation that is clear, fair and transparent. Documenting your promotion policies will help you follow clear hiring guidelines when it is time to fill a position, and promotion and compensation HR policies for nonprofits help ensure you are creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace and organizational culture.

3. Employee Manual

Every nonprofit should have an employee manual, a guide that explains the various procedures and expectations your organization has for your staff. The manual should cover technical aspects related to probation and termination, along with elements like paid time off and dress code. Some employee manuals offer details about the organization’s culture and core values. An employee manual establishes consistent organizational policies and ensures no employee receives different treatment than others. Given the increase and necessity of remote working during the past year, adding your policies on remote working and telecommuting is important to include in your manual.

4. Hiring Best Practices

As a nonprofit, you may decide to hold yourself to higher ethical standards than the private sector. Consider how you hire new team members and genuinely assess any unconscious bias you may have. Without realizing it, you could be making assumptions based on candidates’ backgrounds or even their gender, race or name. There are many ways to remove bias in your hiring. You can implement software tools that objectively vet candidates or outsource your hiring to an objective third party. This allows you to hire the best candidates for the job while fostering an equitable and inclusive organization.

READ NEXT: Addressing Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

Regularly Review Your Nonprofit HR Policies

As you develop HR policies for your nonprofit organization, commit to reviewing them annually. Consider hiring an objective third-party expert to review your policies for gaps or potential risk. Strengthening your community through your nonprofit organization starts with having effective human resource policies.


This post was adapted from “Which HR Policies for Nonprofit Organizations Really Matter?” by Corbin OneSource

Corban OneSource is a Nonprofit Leadership Center Key Partner. Headquartered in the Tampa Bay area and with clients in 48 states and 13 countries, they have extensive experience in partnering with nonprofits and specialize in working with organizations that have between 15 to 6,000 employees. Their goal is to help nonprofit leaders and their teams focus on their mission instead of the burden of HR paperwork, payroll, benefits administration or compliance. They offer a discount for nonprofits and believe every dollar they save their client goes toward missions that matter most. Learn more about Corban OneSource on their website, or contact them at 1-844-4CORBAN or info@corbanone.com.


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NLC Nonprofit Leadership Conference | October 13, 2021

Announcing the 2021 NLC Leadership Conference

Team NLC News

During the past year, nonprofit leaders have risen to the challenges of our time — adjusting, reimagining and leading courageously to strengthen our communities. Now, it’s time to celebrate and chart how we’ll continue moving forward together.

Please join the Nonprofit Leadership Center on October 13, 2021, for our 11th Annual Leadership Conference, presented by Bank of America. This highly anticipated event returns in its dynamic virtual format with new features and surprises, allowing leaders to participate from anywhere in the world.

Building from our 2020 mantra to lead courageously, the 2021 conference theme is Lead Bravely. Act Boldly. — exactly what we as nonprofit leaders must do to meet the growing needs of our communities and make the impact we exist to achieve.

In the coming weeks, we’ll reveal the impressive line-up of speakers, breakout sessions and activities, all focused on how nonprofit leaders can think differently, challenge the status quo, drive innovation and lead for the future. You’ll walk away with ideas, tools and strategies that you and your team can immediately implement across the most critical topics facing our sector and society.

In the meantime, get excited for not one, but TWO, phenomenal keynote speakers who will energize and inspire you to lead bravely and act boldly.

Meet the 2021 Keynote Speakers

NLC 2021 Leadership Conference Keynote Speaker Dr. Shirley Davis

Dr. Shirley Davis

Dr. Shirley Davis is a seasoned HR and diversity and inclusion global thought leader, senior executive, certified leadership coach, and former chief diversity and inclusion officer for several Fortune 100 companies. Dr. Davis is the author of the best-selling books, Reinvent Yourself: Strategies for Achieving Success in Every Area of Your Life” and The Seat: How to Get Invited to the Table When You’re Over-Performing and Undervalued. She has been a featured expert on NBC’s The Today Show, USA Today, National Public Radio, The Wall Street Journal, Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, The Washington Post, and Inclusion Magazine

As president and CEO of SDS Global Enterprises, Inc., a woman and minority-owned C-Corporation headquartered in Tampa Bay, she works with leaders to create more inclusive and high-performing workplaces where all talent can thrive.

NLC 2021 Leadership Conference Keynote Speaker Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff is the New York Times bestselling author of seven books, including his newest release, Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking. He’s an INC Magazine Top 100 Leadership Speaker and has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people at conferences and companies around the world, including FedEx, Nissan, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, Chick-fil-A, Nokia, and Comedy Central. His large and highly engaged social media following of 600,000 across channels look to him for his unique blend of humor, honesty and hope.  

Secure Your Spot

The NLC Leadership Conference is the premier event for anyone who works for a nonprofit, wants to work for a nonprofit, serves as a nonprofit board leader or partners with nonprofits. Join hundreds of nonprofit and business leaders to learn from and connect with each other as we work to strengthen our skills, our organizations and our communities.

Ticket options are available for individuals and teams.

Register for the NLC 2020 Leadership Conference Now

Thank You to Our Sponsors

NLC’s Leadership Conference would not be possible without the generous support of our passionate partners that believe in the importance and impact of our nonprofit community. We’d like to extend a special thank-you to our presenting sponsor Bank of America, our lead conference supporter every year since the conference began in 2011.

If you’re interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Tess Plotkin.


Be the first to hear about 2021 Leadership Conference announcements and other upcoming events for nonprofit leaders by signing up for our email list. Be sure to also follow the Nonprofit Leadership Center on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

Introducing the Certificate in Nonprofit Management Class of 2022

Meet the 27 Nonprofit Leaders in the 2021 Certificate in Leadership Program

Team NLC News

Nonprofit leadership has never been more important — or more challenging — than it is in the present moment. As needs increase along with mounting uncertainty, leadership is the key for stronger organizations and communities. To prepare the next generation of nonprofit professionals to lead our ever-changing sector forward, the Nonprofit Leadership Center created the Certificate in Leadership program. This unique, 10-week learning experience brings together nonprofit leaders who are new to managing people or programs in an inclusive, collaborative environment to develop the qualities and skills necessary to lead with authenticity and impact. The program is made possible with generous support from Florida Blue.

As the second Certificate in Leadership class kicks off today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to the 27 outstanding nonprofit leaders who will be part of the 2021 program. Participants were nominated to apply by leaders in their organization or community, and then their applications were reviewed as part of a rigorous selection process.

Meet the Certificate in Leadership Class of 2021

Meet the 2021 Certificate in Leadership Class

  • Kari Allen, Program Manager, Champions for Children
  • Brittany Armstrong, Project Manager, MacDonald Training Center
  • Delacy Boudreaux, Rapid Rehousing Program Manager, The Spring of Tampa Bay
  • Erica Braham, Equity Operations Manager, Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative  
  • Monica Brimm, Program Director, St. Petersburg Free Clinic
  • Morgan Brochetti, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties
  • Olivia Chopra, Director of Operations/Head Start Manager, Redlands Christian Migrant Association
  • Ashly Delaney, Director of Shelter Services, Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc.
  • Antoinette Hagley, Chief Clinical Officer, DACCO Behavioral Health, Inc.
  • Delicia Hargrove, Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay  
  • Allison Hedrick, Executive Director, Outreach Free Clinic and Resource Center
  • Ricardo Henriquez, Vice President Neighborhood Initiatives, United Way Suncoast
  • Cindy Horwitz, Endorsement Coordinator, Florida Association for Infant Mental Health
  • Patrick Jackson, Adult Education Associate & Corporate Manager, American Stage Theatre Company
  • Kristina Lawler, Board Member/Volunteer, Tampa Bay Abortion Fund
  • Jennifer Malin, Senior Director, Strategic Communications, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay
  • Keara McGraw, Program Manager, Social Venture Partners Tampa Bay
  • Heather McMillan, Senior Operations Manager, Tampa Bay Wave
  • Chris Noble, Programs Director, Seniors in Service
  • Kelly Obarski, Ed.D, Director of Program Services, Boys & Girls Club of the Suncoast
  • Darla Otey, Executive Director, Girls, Inc. of Pinellas
  • Nora Paine, President, New Tampa Players
  • Reunika “Marie” Parham, Volunteer Manager, Hope Villages of America  
  • Katie Roders Turner, Director of Operations, The Family Healthcare Foundation
  • Brian Rothey, Associate Vice President of Adult Community Programs, PARC, Inc.
  • Dallas Ruffin, Big Futures Supervisor, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay
  • Nicole Tegge, Inventory Manager, Feeding Tampa Bay

See the first Certificate in Leadership Class of 2020 here.

Powered Through Partnership

NLC’s Certificate in Leadership program is possible thanks to generous support from Florida Blue.

NLC and Florida Blue logos: A partnership to develop emerging nonprofit leaders in Tampa Bay

Learn More about the Impact of the Certificate in Leadership

Graduates from the 2020 Certificate in Leadership report measurable increases in skills that are critical for long-term success and impact:

  • After the program, 100% of participants agreed they could respond authentically to the changes and challenges facing today’s nonprofit leaders, up from 59% before the program began.
  • Participants’ ability to understand themselves and manage their organizational responsibilities increased from 88% to 100% from the beginning to the end of the program.
  • 100% of participants agreed they understood their leadership style and could develop a plan to enhance their skills after the program, up from 77% before the program began.

Learn more about NLC’s Certificate in Leadership program here. For questions and more information about the new Certificate in Leadership, contact us at info@nlctb.org or 813-287-8779.


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7 Traits of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

7 Traits of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

John Loblack, Ed.D. Tips

What does it mean to be an emotionally intelligent leader?

Emotionally intelligent leaders possess seven important qualities that spell out the word LEADERS.

L is for listening. Emotionally intelligent leaders place a higher value on listening than they do talking.

E is for equipping. Emotionally intelligent leaders equip their employees with the tools and resources necessary to effectively fulfill the requirements of their positions.

A is for appreciation. Emotionally intelligent leaders appreciate the people they work with and invest time, effort and money to show their gratitude.

D is for developing. Emotionally intelligent leaders know their employees are their most important asset. They consistently create development opportunities to help their people grow and advance.

E is for enlisting. Emotionally intelligent leaders enlist support from others because they know that their employees and team members are critical to implementing change effectively and efficiently.

R is for relationships. Emotionally intelligent leaders understand that their success or failure rests on the quality of their relationships with others. They invest heavily in building and deepening those professional relationships.

S is for service. Emotionally intelligent leaders realize that to get the most from employees, they must first give the most to their employees. They constantly seek ways to serve their employees instead of waiting on employees to serve them.

Now that you know some of the qualities of emotionally intelligent LEADERS, are you in this category? What steps might you take to increase your emotional intelligence?

READ NEXT: Three Things Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Say

Become a More Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Emotional intelligence isn’t something you’re born with; it can be learned. Join the Nonprofit Leadership Center and Dr. John Loblack on July 7 for his upcoming training on Self Leadership for Nonprofit Leaders to become a stronger, more emotionally intelligent leader.

John Loblack

John Loblack, Ed.D.is an accomplished, change-oriented human development expert who motivates nonprofit leaders to drastically increase their individual and organizational value. Read more about John.

Silencing the Stories in Our Heads | NLC

When It’s Not Good to Be a Great Storyteller — How to Reject the False Stories in Your Head

Ellen Nastir, M.Ed., PCC, BCC, CPCC Tips

One of the best gifts I received during 2020 was reconnecting with a long-lost friend on the final day of that challenging year. Time melted away as we spoke on the phone for more than an hour, catching up on nearly two decades as if no time had passed at all.

While the reason we lost touch doesn’t matter, what does matter is the story I told myself about it.

After losing contact with my friend for many years, I found her on Facebook. I sent her several messages but did not receive a response. I told myself she didn’t want to communicate with me and wasn’t interested in being my friend. In my desperate desire to have a reason for her unresponsiveness, I concocted a story in my head that put me at fault — she must be sick of hearing about the current challenges in my life and need a break.

At the time, it never dawned on me that she had a lot going on in her personal life that took her attention away from social media and being responsive. I was so focused on myself that I didn’t stop to consider the other reasons for her silence. When we don’t have an answer for an issue that’s nagging us, we tend to make up stories in our heads — often fraught with incorrect assumptions or reflecting insecurities buried deep within ourselves.

Silencing the false stories in your head

This time, my friend reached out to me, I replied, she responded, and the rest is history.

Creating internal stories about interactions or situations, especially those at work, can be detrimental to our emotional health, team morale and productivity. You might tell yourself that the curtness of the email from your supervisor means she doesn’t value your work when in reality, she is struggling to balance responsiveness while juggling two kids at home who need help with virtual school.

Have you ever made up a story because you wanted to assign a reason to something that’s actually far from the truth? Even as a life coach and positive psychology expert, I can still fall back into taking things personally. It’s called being human.

The next time you find yourself beginning to hatch your interpretation of why someone responded the way they did, reach out to that person to check in on them. Ask them how they are doing and gauge if there is anything you can do to help or support them. That might just be the opening to a renewed or deeper relationship.

READ NEXT: 4 Ways to Strengthen Your Mental Muscles


Boost Your Mental Fitness to Lead Courageously on June 10

In our newest virtual class, Ellen Nastir, M.Ed., PCC, BCC, CPCC, will help you identify the saboteurs that prevent you from functioning at your highest level, grow the three core mental muscles to thrive in challenging times, and develop strategies to turn negative emotions into positive outcomes. Learn more and register now!

Register Now

About Ellen Nastir

Working hand-in-hand with nonprofits and small businesses, Ellen Nastir, M.Ed., PCC, BCC, CPCC, helps clients create more positive, appreciative and cohesive work environments. Her company, Innovative Team Solutions, works to develop employees’ people-skills to complement their technical skills and abilities. With more than 14 years of experience in training, development and entrepreneurial sales, Ellen brings a unique perspective to resolving challenges and maximizing the potential of any team. She is a certified professional co-active coach, PeopleMap trainer, virtual trainer from the International Institute for Virtual Facilitation and is certified in Positive Psychology, Change and Tension Management and Conflict Dynamics. Finding the opportunity during quarantine, Ellen is most recently obtaining certification in Positive Intelligence. 


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Welcome Meriel Martínez

Experienced Trainer and Facilitator Joins NLC as New Program Director

Team NLC News

Today, we’re pleased to announce that Meriel Martínez has joined the Nonprofit Leadership Center as our new program director, effective March 30, 2021. In this role, she will help develop and implement NLC learning experiences and programs, with an emphasis on small-group leadership circles that bring leaders together who share similar roles or goals to learn, problem-solve and succeed collaboratively. She will also oversee NLC’s efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion across all program areas. This new role and Meriel’s leadership reflect NLC’s continued commitment to support the evolving needs of the nonprofit sector and our communities.

Meriel learned the value and importance of community as a child. Of Puerto Rican descent, she was immersed in an affirming, culturally vibrant world during her early years. Those experiences inspired her to become a trainer and facilitator, with a specialization in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Meriel began her professional journey as an editor for a major educational publisher. Years later, a family move to Virginia presented her with the opportunity to convert her long-standing passion for equity and justice into a career. Meriel was the logistics coordinator for the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network’s 2014 Hispanic College Institute and served on their board. She joined the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities in 2015 as a trainer and facilitator, designing and facilitating educational programs on diversity, equity and inclusion for schools, workplaces and communities across the state. In 2017, Meriel moved to Tampa, where she has continued her work in community building.

Meriel earned her master’s degree in speech and interpersonal communication from New York University. She studied at both Chestnut Hill College and William Paterson University, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in communication.

“As a lifelong learner, I know we are all a work in progress. We must show grace to others and ourselves while continually seeking to learn and understand. I look forward to advancing inclusive practices and personal development with and alongside our nonprofit community.”

Meriel Martínez

When Meriel is not in the office, she’s spending time with the people she loves, most often hanging out at home, hiking or at the beach. She also loves to dance.

Please join us in welcoming Meriel Martínez to Team NLC.


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