Piper Fellow Recipients 2007
“In nine years working directly with the homeless, I learned about de-escalating conflict, managing calmly amid apparent chaos, structuring work for volunteers, and how to get buy-in from almost everyone. Now, I have moved out of a customer-driven environment into a field requiring constant initiative and proactivity. I’m learning that leadership doesn’t transfer to new environments just because you have the right management skills.”
– Blase Bova, Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Blase Bova began working at St. Vincent de Paul in 1997 in program management as the Director of Special Works Ministries, serving homeless people and families facing homelessness and was the agency’s director of development at the time of his fellowship.
Mr. Bova completed Indiana University’s fundraising certification program. During his sabbatical, he met biweekly with a personal fundraising mentor and attended the executive training program at Stanford University’s Center for Social Innovation. To acquire more skills, Mr. Bova participated in the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Festival, Stanford’s Digital Media Academy, and an Inward Journey/Outward Bound program.
“I was able to spend about eight weeks in intensive top-tier training, as well as take advantage of individual professional mentoring and meditation classes. The training courses, and the Fellowship in general, were designed to help me build confidence and discipline, two areas I felt were lacking as I moved into new roles at St. Vincent de Paul.
The most dramatic experience was extensive flooding in Iowa when he was to attend the Iowa Summer Writers Festival. Although he was told to come ahead, by the time Mr. Bova got there the festival had been cancelled. He fell into a key role in the volunteer response to the flood. “I spent four whirlwind days in this function and am delighted to this day to have had such a special opportunity as a walk-in out-of-town visitor. The experience has helped me develop a new technique of project management using volunteers.”
“My vision is that Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center will be a sustainable organization that serves more children and families through the replication of best practices and through the expansion of services to underserved populations and communities.”
– Lisa Glow, Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center
Lisa Glow, a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, had a distinguished career in state government and in private practice before taking the job of running a nonprofit. At the time of her fellowship she was CEO of Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center.
Ms. Glow pursued nonprofit leadership training opportunities during her sabbatical. She studied Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management at Harvard Business School and The Shambhala Institute for Authentic Leadership in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She made site visits to innovative entrepreneurial programs such as Dancing Deer Bakery in Boston, which donates 35 percent of its proceeds to education; Lakeview Disability Training Center in Pensacola, Florida; and several programs in New York City.
“The overall fellowship experience was one of the greatest growth opportunities I have ever been given in my career, both personally and professionally. The highlights were the nonprofit strategy class at Harvard, the leadership course in Halifax and the site visits to entrepreneurial nonprofits.
“I learned a great deal and that there is no one size fits all for nonprofits. Yet, there are many best practices and theories and underpinnings to what makes a great nonprofit. Mission is always the number one driver and it needs to be at the forefront on a regular basis to make sure the nonprofit is staying relevant and avoiding mission creep. Flexibility to adapt to changing times and environments is critical for nonprofits to survive and to thrive.”
“I entered the social work profession because of the significant impact on my life of my father who had completed the MSW program and worked for the Veteran’s Administration Hospital. I was always impressed with ‘his way’ with people and the impact he had on the lives of patients and staff. I find myself in a leadership position of a nonprofit agency that serves the Hispanic community. I am proud of my Hispanic heritage and am committed to serving and advocating for the rights of our community.”
– Theresa Leon, Friendly House
Theresa Leon was hired in 2001 as COO of Friendly House, an 85-year-old Latino social service agency. Ms. Leon holds a Master of Social Work degree from Arizona State University. She joined the Piper Trust in October of 2011 as a program officer.
Ms. Leon attended the Leadership Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership and completed coursework for the Nonprofit Leadership and Management Certificate Program at Arizona State University. In addition, she worked with a personal coach to advance her work for the organization.
“One unexpected benefit of the Fellowship program is the ongoing networking and learning opportunities provided by the Trust. The Fellow’s network provides support that I did not expect to receive. In addition, it has provided me the opportunity to learn from others’ sabbatical experiences to increase my knowledge to be more effective as a leader. I am learning that many experience the same challenges as I, and the ability to exchange ideas and how we’ve coped is very helpful.”
“Through my work have seen people who have no visible resources and whose futures seem bleak at best. Yet those people can face situations head-on. They can survive and even thrive. I have seen their children playing despite fear and uncertainty. I believe these families are always better off for having come in contact with the message that they ‘are enough’ and they deserve to be loved and respected.”
– Connie Phillips, Sojourner Center
Connie Phillips began her career at Sojourner Center in 1994 and served as its executive director during her sabbatical. When she first joined Sojourner there were 28 beds for women and children escaping domestic violence. In 2007, there were hundreds of beds at Sojourner. Ms. Phillips would say that the state of Arizona responded, donors appeared, and volunteers have come to help. In fact, she led Sojourner through a successful two year capital campaign that raised $11.8 million.
“I began my sabbatical in earnest in May 2008 with a spiritual retreat at Living Waters Retreat Center in Cornville, Arizona. I became aware once more that I am not alone in this work.
“I then left for the class Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. There were two main strategies for measuring effectiveness that I was able to bring back to the Center and although we had been using both models for a while, I was not aware of their depth and how we could more richly use them.
“Perhaps the most profound experience that I had through my time away was the two weeks that I spent working as an advocate at our Hope Campus. I answered our crisis phone, greeted new arriving women and children, assisted in readying rooms, and sat in on the classes that are taught. I was able to witness the courage of the women and the dedication of the staff. My final activity was attending the World Conference of Shelters held in Edmonton, Alberta. There were 800 representatives from 50 different countries at this first-ever conference of shelter workers. I learned a great deal about the domestic violence movement throughout the world and the similarities and differences of providing shelter to women who are fleeing abuse.”
“I choose to work in the nonprofit human services field because I truly believe in the adage, ‘Service is the rent we pay for our room here on earth.’ For the last eight years, I have worked for an organization that enables me to serve the community and see the difference that a helping hand makes to people. In my current position, I get to develop and lead the direct care component and continue to pay the ‘rent.’ ”
– Kurt Sheppard, Valle del Sol, Inc.
Kurt Sheppard came to Valle del Sol after a 20-year career in the United States Air Force and was the organization’s chief programs officer at the time of his fellowship. Prior to that time he led many innovative and progressive initiatives at the behavioral health and leadership development agency during a period of tremendous change.
Mr. Sheppard attended Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management Seminar and the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders. He participated in the National Center on Nonprofit Enterprise Conference and then developed a business plan for Valle del Sol’s future social enterprise initiatives.
As a result of his fellowship, Mr. Sheppard saw an avenue to lead the organization toward greater social enterprise capacity and new sources of unrestricted revenue.