Category Archives: INML

Reflective Progress

It is only with stepping back that I truly make lasting discoveries.

That’s what this INML program has been all about. In part.

The last couple of months have also been about me. me. me.

What do I need as a leader? What do I want as a leader? What do I do as a leader?

The microscopic look at me came just at the right time both personally and professionally. But I lacked the time to pull back and refocus at the same time. So I forgot about it.   I forgot about the big picture. When you look at a hair through a microscope, you see every detail but you can’t recognize it as a hair. It’s just a line with details.  It’s only when you back up that you realize it’s a hair. In fact, not your hair, but a cat hair.

Last night I graduated from Boston University’s Institute for Non-Profit Management and Leadership. It’s the first time in my life I realized that I’m not the over-achiever I always claim to be. I am, in fact, an habitual under-achiever.

If you know me personally, you probably think I’m insane to make that statement. I’m a single parent, working full-time, pulling a micro-theatre up by its boot-straps, baking my own bread, exercising, putting my child first, cat-owning, not-your-average-girl-next-door kind of woman. But it’s true. Here’s why.

In front of me stood the head of the program, Barry Dym, who just published his fourth book. The next speaker, Robert Lewis Jr., a dynamic and passionate speaker blew me away not because of his articulate thoughts but because he cared. He cared. And he was changing the world because he cared. Four students later: a familiar-faced woman in my own class who I had always wanted to know more about but I learned more about her history from four minutes than I’d bothered to find out during 8 months of learning. she stood surrounded by her fellow ‘practice session’ students; a tall rhythmic man who lost his brother to gang violence last November, breathed his way through and thanked the many mentors he found; a tiny powerhouse of a woman who spoke lightly of her purported infectious laugh and helped us see the world through the eyes–her eyes–of the child of immigrants who was raised in poverty and was now changing the world; a spoken word artist who shook the room with his words and our voices. Four students later, I remembered why I started GAN-e-meed, why I am consistently drawn to teaching and mentorship, why my child always has my priority, why I have spent countless nights wondering why. why. why: because I care and I want to change the world.

Sure, it has helped to learn about accounting, marketing, public policy, fund raising, networking, and all the other essential parts of making a successful non-profit. But somewhere along the line I forgot why I wanted to take this program. It became all about me. me. me. Instead of them. them. them. Them is what’s important.

I am here because I want to make the world a better place.

If I can do what I’ve done with my life and its impact on the world as an under-achiever, what can I accomplish as an over-achiever?

It’s taken me 8 months to get smart enough to ask that question.

Someday, I will answer it.

In the quiet hours when we are alone with ourselves and there is nobody to tell us what fine fellows we are, we come sometimes upon a weak moment in which we wonder, not how much money we are earning, nor how famous we are becoming, but what good we are doing.
-A. A. Milne, Not That It Matters


INML. week 4. teams good. homework bad.

Note to Self

overload is ongoing. must build reflective and follow-up time into the day after class. solution: put child to bed earlier.   meal plan to facilitate feeding said child on time allowing earlier bedtime.   meal plan.   hahahahaha.

Assigned Reading

A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. – [insert author of article]

Good theatre is always made by teams.   Bad theatre is too.   Good theatre can also be made by bad teams.   I believe a good team will, in the end, make better theatre, but there’s really no way to prove it.

At its core, team accountability is about the sincere promises we make to ourselves and others, promises that underpin two critical aspects of effective teams: commitment and trust. – [insert author of article]

Ah, trust.   Does the Silence team trust each other yet?   I hope so.   Do I trust them? I think so.   I better know so by the time we enter rehearsals a week from now.

Quotes of the Day

I’m a start-up junkie. -classmate

No page limit.   As long as you need but no more. – Michelle

Next week: It’s Monday. I just noticed, after reviewing my notes for this post, that our homework for this week was due on Friday. Go me.


INML. week 2. management skills

Note to Self

overload was imminent.  that it is happening so soon is worrisome. sleep is good. taking notes on computer is awesome; feeling dorky about it is a necessary hurdle over which i leap with enthusiasm.

Assigned Reading

In short, reflection and inquiry allow you to question your own mental models and change them when necessary.

I’m wondering how many lessons that I take away from this course are ones which I already (or should) apply in my day-to-day life.  Is good management and great leadership as easy as being a good person and making smart choices?  I have my doubts but I’m going to remain open to this idea for now.

I define my job as having the freedom to do what seems to me to be the best interest of the company at any time.

Freedom? How about responsibility?


Comparing people to numbers and applying quantitative proofs using overly large words is not the way to get ahead.  Duly noted.

Quotes of the Day

Don’t just keep asking for what your Boss wants, propose something. – Barry

Forget about style points, think about outcomes. – Barry

Next Week: I have no idea and it’s far too late for me to get my butt off the couch and go look it up.

Rock on.


INML. week 1. orientation.

Note to Self

Bring layers.   My nose cannot withstand another evening feeling like an icicle.   Thankfully my handy-dandy granny mitts kepts my knuckles and wrists nice and toasty.

Assigned Reading

This bullet point made me laugh out loud in delight at its simplicity and my willingness to take it to heart.   Under Managing to Strategy

Make an actual list of things that are interesting but not important. Learn to let them go.
– Barry Dym, The Practice of Management

I’m considering creating a  “letting go bucket “ in my house.   I think my daughter and I could find a use for it every single day.

Quotes of the Day

“Most executive directors don’t sleep at night because they’re worrying about something.” Charmaine Higgins-Jean

“Leadership is about change, and that includes ourselves.” Barry Dym

Next Week: Managing and Developing Individuals

Rock on.


Brilliant Awe Awash with Life


4pm.   Production meeting for Silence. I was so excited to be sitting at a table with such a brilliant design and management team that I do believe I babbled a bit.   I did, at least, succeed in not dumping my bag everywhere as I dug for a pen, which is what usually happens since I tote my scattered brain around on my shoulder.

And yet, this is where I am the most at ease in my excitement.   This is where I belong.   I am a producer/direct above all.   A discovery I made late-ish in my career.   An unexpected, enlightening, and inspiring discovery.   So, to sit in a tea shop faced with talent that is destined to soar is truly awe-inspiring.

I can forgive myself for the babbling when I am faced with dreams coming true.

6:15pm. Rain. Rain. Rain.

6:45pm. Boston University. Opening Reception for the Institute for Non-Profit Management and Leadership. I was late.   I was wet.   I was cold.   I smilingly accepted my name tag and secured directions to the ladies room because the minuscule droplets of rain were quickly gathering in the folds of my face and becoming rivers.   I needed a moment to collect myself.   I didn’t get it since I arrived just in time to hear watch the welcome speeches in the vacuumous (yes, that is now a word if it wasn’t before) atrium.   As I stood there, dripping and name-tagged, absorbing an excitement similar to that I felt just an hour earlier, I suddenly realized that the sole reason for this reception was for me to walk around, introduce myself to complete strangers, and make worthwhile conversation.

This might be where I forgot to breath for a second.

Schmoozing is completely out of my comfort zone.   I’m not bad at it and I don’t dislike it, it just requires concentration and fortitude.   You’d think after the awe of my previous meeting, I’d be golden, but the rain must have washed some of me away.

With the speeches over, I retreated to the ladies to powder my nose and returned with a sigh, determined to either find a single person standing and waiting for a conversation, or butt-in to a group.   My one goal: not to stand around feeling idiotic.

I succeeded.   I felt fine.   But after several months hiatus from explaining the mission of GAN-e-meed to multiple professionals in an evening, I was definitely out of practice.

8pm. I drove home in the rain.   Picked up an over-tired child.   Read a little Moss Hart and snuggled up in bed.

This is the good life.