2016 Leadership Institute Spotlight with Ben Carr

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Tell us about your current role?

I am the Associate Director of Development & Corporate Relations at HandsOn Suburban Chicago. As the first-ever full-time development employee for the organization, I have had the opportunity to build the development program from the ground up. This has meant getting to work very closely with board members, teaching them about fundraising. I also have the privilege to work with corporations as they look to engage their employees in meaningful volunteer service.

Why do you like working in the nonprofit sector?

Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, my job put me in a position to mentor and coach a group of young employees who needed some extra support. Through this experience, I discovered my passion for seeing others move beyond their circumstances and reach their full potential. This passion led me to pursue a career which would allow me to contribute to organizations and programs focused on improving communities and individuals. So to answer the question, waking up every morning knowing that I get to put my talents and experience toward fulfilling a mission I am wholly passionate about is why I love working in the nonprofit sector.

Why did you sign up for the Leadership Institute?

I signed up for the Leadership Institute because I wanted to take my career and personal development to the next level. After hearing about a friend’s experience in the program, I was excited to learn from and grow with a group of ambitious, like-minded young professionals.

Tell us about how what you’ve learned in the Leadership Institute is changing or reinforcing your leadership style and helping you shape your next steps?

The Leadership Institute has been an excellent space for self-reflection; through conversations with my peers, the ‘course’ material or time with my mentor, I have learned more about my strengths and how to maximize my potential. The confidence I gained from LI has better prepared me to manage myself and lead a team/organization.

What have you learned from your Leadership Institute Mentor?

My mentor has taught me many things over the last few months. However, what stands out most has not been direct lessons but the way she has been a mentor. I have learned to listen better, to ask better questions, and to encourage others because of the way she has modeled those behaviors in our interactions.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I have ever received was from my Dad and is directly applicable everyday especially in the nonprofit sector. My dad taught me that, while you cannot always control your situation or people around you, you can always control how you prepare and react. Following this advice has allowed me to stay focused and productive no matter the situation in both my personal and professional lives.