For Hayden Dansky, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Boulder Food Rescue, the first meeting on June 19 of SVP Boulder County’s newest cohort of Invested Leaders set the stage for honing how they deliver the manifold responsibilities of their role.
“I’ve always found so much value in peer learning,” they say. “I think there’s something really special that happens when people share their experiences, and how they’ve faced challenges similar to the concerns and opportunities of others in the room.
“Peer learning creates connections that you don’t get from traditional educational opportunities. It’s a lot easier for me to hear and learn from what everyone has to offer – in terms of their knowledge, skills, experiences and passion for their work – than sitting in a classroom.”
Indeed – for the duration of 10 monthly meetings, each about 75 minutes – the Invested Leaders program offers participants the chance to move beyond independent learning to mutual learning in the areas of nonprofit leadership and management. The cost of such facilitated peer learning is typically out-of-reach for most nonprofits; in response, SVP Boulder County sets program fees on a sliding scale.
“All of us have varying levels of experience, representing different kinds of organizations, and different organizational sizes and sectors,” Hayden continues. “My hope is to more fully explore what it means to be a nonprofit executive in our community, and to gain new skills and knowledge that help me do my job better at this stage of our growth.”
SVP Boulder County Partners facilitate the discussions on topics self-selected by the participants themselves – from creating organizational culture to fundraising strategies, fundamental human resources questions and effectively managing volunteers. As with all SVP programs, the goal is to build an organization’s capacity to meet its mission. “The whole idea underpinning the Invested Leaders program is providing the opportunity for local nonprofit executives to learn from each other’s successes, to discuss the reasons for failures and challenges, and also to talk about issues they can’t talk about anywhere else. The connections participants build go beyond the formal program and become a support system,” says Spencer Downing, SVP Program and Volunteer Officer.
Among the guiding principles of the program, a spirit of confidentiality deepens trust and mutual learning among participants. Added benefits include an increased collegiality within the Boulder County’s nonprofit community. Spencer concludes, “Invested Leaders is open to any Boulder County nonprofit executive director or CEO.”