Training the Future Non Profit Leaders

When I was in college I was fortunate enough to meet Tom Butterfield who had started a residential home for troubled boys in Marshall, Mo. Tom’s vision for helping youth grow to be responsible adults captured my heart. In many ways, meeting Tom changed my life. I worked for Tom while in graduate school and I now serve as a member of the Board of Directors of Butterfield Youth Services.

Many of us have similar stories about someone who inspired us as we got our start in our chosen profession. In those early days, Tom and I were both young and inexperienced and we made lots of mistakes. We meant well but we had no training and simply trusted our gut to make decisions regarding child care, business, marketing, fund raising, etc. It would have been nice to have had someone to give us support and training.

My guess is that this still holds true today. People who work in the non-profit field are too busy to take time or have the money to receive ongoing training—especially leadership or management training. Because baby bombers who currently lead many non profits will retire in the near future, there is a severe lack of people trained to take over when the current leader steps down.

The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, the Center for Creative Leadership and HCF have come together to offer world class management and leadership training to a select group of 30 mid-career and /or young emergent leaders who work in health related fields in the KC region. The training will last over 16 months and a few days of out of town trips for training will be required. The training will be free to the participants and to the organizations where they work, but will require some time away from the office.

Selection of who will be accepted into this program will be made by a committee composed of Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Staff, Ladder to Leadership National Program Office (NPO) staff and National Advisory Committee members. To learn more about this exciting opportunity, please attend one of two introductory meetings being held on Oct 18th or Oct 19th at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center. Please register for these meetings by going to home page of the HCF website at For questions please contact Graciela Couchonnal, Program Officer at or 816-241-7006 Ext 118


This is great that you all are offering young leaders this opportunity. However, most up and coming leaders feel like they can’t commit the time it takes for this extensive training because they are so incredibly overwhelmed with their direct practice, and supervisors don't value professional development or self care--only long days of hard work. We strive to follow the Tom Butterfields of today, and we are incredibly grateful that so many foundations value training and self care. It is my hope that this value will be passed down to the directors and supervisors of non-profit agencies, and more direct service providers will be able to take advantage of opportunities like this one. Inspiration, self-care, and professional development are vital to prevent compassion fatigue and burnout. The participants of this program that HCF is funding are lucky indeed!

Steve--- you are the BEST!!!!

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About Me

Steve Roling

Steve Roling

Steve Roling is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Each week he blogs about issues that inspire him as we work toward eliminating barriers to quality health.