You must be asking why? Well, I had the opportunity to participate in the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders (EPNL) at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. I had an amazing time learning and sharing with nonprofit leaders from around the world. Stanford describes the program:
Stanford University selects nonprofit leaders from social and human services, health care, community development, and education organizations to participate in the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders (EPNL), a two-week residential program designed to further the professional development of current and future leaders in the nonprofit sector. Drawing on the leading-edge research and course offerings of the Stanford faculty, the program integrates conceptual knowledge with participants' own experience to generate powerful and practical insights about leadership and management. The learning stems from a variety of activities including classes, small group discussions, and individual study. Like the Stanford MBA Program, EPNL evolves as the faculty's most current thinking and research keeps pace with the rapidly changing management environment.
This program gave me ample opportunity to be part of a major "think tank" with other leaders and people who have been called to change the world. I often call people like us "misfits", because they are only a few people who are not only called, but have accepted the call to commit their lives to the nonprofit sector as it continues to grow.
After completing the program I've had some time to reflect on my own leadership, and the work of New Directions For Veterans (www.ndvets.org) . Here are a few of my takeaways.
• Richer understanding of being mission-focused and economic strategy
• Deepened leadership perspective, and confidence to really "lead from the front"
• The power of building strong networks and collaborations
• Improved system development, and the importance of management ideas
• Corporate and mission approach to a growing sector
• Also, learned about "queuing", and the power of the bottleneck
This time away also allowed me to reflect on the work of New Directions as we are moving forward. The timing of the EPNL program, and the new strategic direction of our organization coincided at a good time.
On June 18th we marked another milestone in the growth of an organization I'm proud to serve and work with. New Directions, Inc. is an organization that has been in the business of saving the lives of homeless veterans for more than two decades is changing its name. We're expanding our brand by adding - for veterans - to our name, as well as unveiled a new logo. These two words clearly distinguish our mission and set New Directions for Veterans apart from other organizations with similar names. The new name aligns with our growth in service of the veterans cause, and the expansion of our vision to provide services to all veterans before they become homeless. Much here is innovative and new as we expand into the next phase of our impact in the veteran community.
The name New Directions for Veterans and the new tagline - Putting Veterans First Since 1992 - will be tied to building on New Directions' history and many years of service to homeless veterans. Our goal is to sharpen the agency's identity yet make it clear that this is a very well established organization on the cutting edge in changing the way veterans are served. We want to be mindful of our heritage, yet emphasize the ways that this agency is moving forward to better serve new generations of veterans.
Last year Vietnam-era veterans were just a quarter of those served at New Directions for Veterans. We are well past the time when the public should think of us as being by, for and about Vietnam veterans. In 2012 only one-fourth of those we served were Vietnam era vets. Fifteen percent were Post 9/11 and another 15 percent were from the first Gulf war. Although veteran homelessness has decreased by 24% since 2011, there is still an estimated 33,000 veterans who will experience homelessness over the next 2 ½ years according to the Home For Good Campaign. Thus, we still have much work to do in this sector in the area of homelessness, jobs, housing, and mental health for veterans.
I am always mindful that a growing number of those who serve today are women, they're mothers, they bring new layers of meaning to the word 'veteran' and to be the very best possible veteran service agency, we have to continuously adapt our programs to meet the needs of ALL veterans who turn to us for help.
New Directions for Veterans continues to be very committed to serving those who served us. Get involved in the veteran cause and support NDVets in our quest to ensure every veteran lives a sustainable and quality life.