Third Sector Spotlight: Four Examples of Cause-Driven Leaders at Work

Third Sector Spotlight: Four Examples of Cause-Driven Leaders at Work

Everyday, the people of Third Sector Company have the opportunity to work with amazing professionals and organizations that create magic that results in measurable differences in the lives of others. Truly successful nonprofit leadership is as much a social science as it is a business science; and together these disciplines must be leveraged.  It’s not an easy job.

We are grateful to every single customer who engages our people and our mission to be a resource for their organization. Whenever we have the opportunity to spotlight a leader who, in our opinion, sees their work as going beyond running a successful organization to advancing a cause that holds promise for evolving systems, breaking stereotypes, impacting the nonprofit sector as a whole, and affecting large-scale change, we want to give a special shout-out.

Here are four examples of nonprofit leaders that we’ve had personal experience with that we think deserve a round of applause for showing the rest of us what it means to be a cause-driven nonprofit leader.  It is our goal to applaud these colleagues today and periodically spotlight others equally worthy of public praise in the future for all that they do!

Stacy Gillette, Executive Director The Arc of King County in Seattle, Washington

Under Stacy’s leadership, this important community organization serves individuals and their families who face living with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  Stacy decided it was time for The ARC to rethink of itself as a social justice organization in addition to providing its important services.  She made a commitment that The ARC of King County in Seattle would become a voice and a service example to make sure every person living in King County with a developmental or intellectual disability had the right to be an independent, productive, respected and contributing member of society based on their ability.

It didn’t matter whether the individual was served by the organization or not. The bottom line was she and her organization should be there for all people and not just their clients.  In our opinion, that makes Stacy Gillette “best in class” for not only serving people, but also giving people a voice with a commitment to demonstrating equity in society.

Tammy Anderson-Wise, Chief Executive Officer of the California Dairy Council in Sacramento, California.

Tammy has made a lifetime career of leading the largest association of milk-producers and milk-processors in the United States.  After some research into the history of the Council, she found that the Dairy Council was formed as a response to the growing incidence of the disease called Rickets in California children in the early 1900s.  Rickets, with its weak bones and deformities, is the result of a child not receiving enough nutrients that milk contains.  Tammy was concerned that, over time, the Council had turned its attention to growing the milk industry and decided to return the organization back to its roots as a cause targeted at the health of California kids.

Today, the Dairy Council sees itself as a primary advocate, provider and solution to the nutrition needs of young children. Throughout California, the organization has developed innovative programs to assure that no child in California is lacking in the vitamins, minerals, and food consumption that will contribute to their long-term health and development.

We think Tammy’s leadership represents what is possible when a founding cause is rediscovered, reenergized and reengineered to build an association aimed at social benefit in addition to member value.

Paul Garman, Executive Producer of Musical Theatre West in Long Beach, California.

Musical Theatre West is one of the most successful community theatre programs in the country and has grown substantially into a professional program.  Like most theatrical organizations, however, season ticket sales and charitable contributions are a struggle.

Paul returned to the roots of Musical Theatre West and he and his board paved a pathway to Musical Theatre West becoming one of America’s most notable community organizations to celebrate, preserve and advance Musical Theatre as a unique American art form; and, also as a community-based venture, made a commitment for the organization to make an intellectual contribution to every child in the community.

Paul Garman has made a lifelong career that has national implications for advancing an artform while creating local community impact.

Maria Chavez Wilcox, President and CEO of the YWCA of Seattle King Snohomish in Seattle, Washington.

For most of her career, Maria Chavez Wilcox has been an executive at several United Way organizations throughout the country that raised money for other nonprofit organizations.  Her fundraising successes landed her on the front page of the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Then she was recruited to join another organization as its CEO: The YWCA.  As the President of the YWCA, she was faced with everything that she knew about as a person: what it felt like to be a woman in an executive position, what it felt like to be an immigrant to the United States having arrived in America from Peru, what it felt like to be raised in a household by a single-working mother, having to live with the scars of abuse, and what it felt like to live in poverty.

For Maria, leading the YWCA isn’t about the job, it’s about representing every woman who is helped by the organization who is facing the same realities that she has faced in her life.  Maria is truly a great nonprofit leader because she views what she does as not just as a community cause, but as her own cause and for every woman like her.

These are but four examples of unsung heroes we are so proud to know and work with.  Each of them is bringing out the best in others, not because of their titles, but because of the personal connections that each has made with their cause.  To keep up with the latest from Third Sector, sign up for our newsletter!

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