In a Q&A with Meghan Lowney, Executive Director of The Zoom Foundation and Founder of the Leadership Development Roundtable (LDR), it was announced that LDR will be transitioning to a new nonprofit called Five Frogs, Inc. Five Frogs will operate LDR as one of its programs and create new services and initiatives to support leadership capacity.
Q&A with Meghan Lowney
LDR: So, Meghan, what’s new for Leadership Development Roundtable (LDR) in 2017?
Meghan: A lot! As our LDR community knows, we are always learning and adapting. One big project is transitioning LDR to a new nonprofit called Five Frogs, Inc. This is big! First, we need to keep LDR running smoothly which we're doing with a small team of consultants. We are recruiting our 2017 cohorts now. Second, we have to build the new organization! We have the opportunity to expand our vision, build on LDR and add programming and services to meet the demand in Connecticut for leader development.
LDR: Tell us a bit about this new organization Five Frogs, Inc.
Meghan: Well, first, a big thank you to all the alumni and supporters who have shared their suggestions through focus groups and other conversations. When we decided to move LDR to a new nonprofit, we started asking what might be possible beyond LDR. Based on your feedback, we have a big ambition: to help many more Connecticut leaders effect critical social change statewide.
At LDR we know that leaders are made, not born. Well, it seems to us that we need to support more 21st century leaders in Connecticut to take on the complex challenges we face. We need leaders from all walks of life who will work to achieve justice and equity. Leaders with diverse experience, with the skills, mindset, heart, knowledge and grit to make progress in a new world.
We cannot assume that what has worked in the past will work in the future. We can’t assume that if we just work harder we’ll get there. It’s a new day. We need to adapt. We need to lead differently and as a community need to invest in supporting leaders to learn and adapt.
Our vision? Connecticut will be stronger and more equitable as a result of effective, diverse social impact leaders working together across boundaries of difference to solve complex social problems and strengthen communities.
Five Frogs will operate LDR as one of its programs. Building on LDR, we will create new services and initiatives to expand our reach. Our mission is to build a powerful movement of leaders who possess the competencies, mindset, drive and relationships necessary to cause sustainable results for individuals, communities and Connecticut. We do this by providing individuals with the programs, experiences and supports to develop the leadership potential in themselves and others. By focusing on results, lessons learned, commitment to diversity, and meaningful collaboration, we help tomorrow’s leaders seize opportunities to create lasting, positive change.
LDR: Exciting! Why “five frogs?”
Meghan: (Laughs) Well, as our LDR alumni recall, we use a riddle to open a discussion about leadership. It goes like this: Five frogs are sitting on a log. Three decide to jump. How many are left? Answer: 5, because 3 just decided to jump but did not. The riddle highlights one of the important aspects of leadership: a bias for action. Leaders jump. We learn through doing. We sometimes fail. We learn and we leap again.
LDR: What is your role? Who is on the team?
Meghan: I am the Chair of the Board. I am working closely with the LDR team - consultants who help us deliver LDR - to ensure that program is successful in 2017. I am also grateful for the advice and counsel of my fellow Five Frogs Board members: Bob Arnold, Andrea Comer, Jamal Jimerson and Ellie Webb (LDR ’13). We are planning the next steps to expand beyond LDR. The Board and team will grow as we become clearer about the organization’s needs.
LDR: What the biggest challenge you and the team face right now?
Meghan: Moving from ideas to action for leader development. One challenge is putting our ideas for Five Frogs into motion and taking the first steps to create a new program or service in response to leader needs. For example, we are closely considering needs for individual coaching, collaborative change leadership, and LDR alumni programming. But we have an even bigger lift: to inspire the nonprofit and funding communities to commit to leader development. Many of us agree in concept that it is important to invest in leader development and supports, but too often, this good idea doesn’t turn into action (see Third Sector Leadership Report). At Five Frogs we want to help with that. How might the social sector come to prioritize leader development? We know we can’t keep just talking about it if we want to see more innovative and sustainable organizations.
LDR: How can LDR alumni help or be involved?
Meghan: In the short term, please help recruit 2017 LDR applicants (see recruitment info below). In addition, if you have any suggestions for Five Frogs please send them along! Finally, sign up for LinkedIn (click to join). We are starting to use the LDR group to communicate with alumni about opportunities.
LDR: Any final thoughts to share?
Meghan: I really want to offer my gratitude and encouragement to all our LDR alums working to make important changes in their organizations, neighborhoods and communities. These are challenging times. In Connecticut, nonprofits and the communities we serve are feeling stressed. Our elected state leaders will have to wrestle with another tough budget season ahead. In addition, we are all anxious to learn what effect the new Trump Administration will have on the issues and people we care about. As change leaders we know we must press onward to find a path forward together. Thank you for your good works!