LeaderShape in Love: Part 4

LeaderShapeInLoveFebruary always brings about thoughts of love and at LeaderShape, we’re turning to mush over some sweet love stories from folks in our community! Over the course of this month, we want to tell you about some couples who met through LeaderShape, tell you how they fell in love, and take a peek at what’s next for them. We hope you enjoy these stories and perhaps are inspired to reconnect with your own loves!

This is the last part of our LeaderShape in Love series and this week we’re telling you about Matthew Bronoske and Natalie Springer. Natalie and Matthew attended the Institute as undergrads at Miami University. While they had met before the session, they were in a family cluster together during the session and got to know each other better. They began a strong, close friendship that week and started dating a few years later. In fact, their romantic relationship was built on that strong friendship!

Matthew said that, “Active listening has been, and always will be a key part of our relationship. LeaderShape taught us that the goal of active listening is to understand the other person’s thoughts and emotions, rather than solely listening to prepare a response.  We have found that active listening is a part of our daily communication and has fortified our relationship and wellbeing with one another.”

The couple will marry later this year and become “Miami Mergers”, a term used to describe Miami University alumni that marry. About 14% of Miami alumni hold this title! The couple said they hope to teach their future children the values they learned at LeaderShape and spark ideas and visions of their own. We hope that, too!

 

LeaderShape in Love: Part 2

LeaderShapeInLoveFebruary always brings about thoughts of love and at LeaderShape, we’re turning to mush over some sweet love stories from folks in our community! Over the course of this month, we want to tell you about some couples who met through LeaderShape, tell you how they fell in love, and take a peek at what’s next for them. We hope you enjoy these stories and perhaps are inspired to reconnect with your own loves!

In this second part of the series, we’re telling you about Gina Hurney and B Nathan. These two Co-Lead facilitators met at a Co-Lead training hosted by LeaderShape in April 2014. B had just been accepted as a Co-Lead and Gina was returning to the role after a two-year hiatus to finish her PhD. Anyone who knows B knows she’s a romantic and always kept her mind and heart open to the possibility of falling in love, especially at the Co-Lead retreat. Gina, was just happy to return to Co-Leading and was never looking for any type of relationship at all, much less to become a married woman.

Gina asked B to join her for dinner one night during the retreat and they hit it off! They realized they had a lot in common and that their values overlapped. After the retreat, B returned to Colorado State and Gina returned to Pennsylvania. They got to know each other better over long phone chats. Both will say the distance not only built their relationship, but is the reason why they’re still together! B said, “We took time each day to communicate, to share about our days, to learn about each other: and ended up falling in love.” Nine months later, Gina proposed and B said yes. They got married on November 3, 2018 in Gaithersburg, MD.

When asked how does the Institute curriculum play a part in their relationship now, B said, “Our values and integrity are the foundation of our relationship. For example, we never go to bed or wake up angry with each other. We say I love you before we go to bed and before we depart for our works in the morning. We say I am sorry. We constantly do self work. And we engage in frequent conversations related to topics of racism, sexism, intersectionality, classism, homophobia and transphobia, and how we can eliminate systems of oppression.”

B is finishing up her PhD work and then the two will take their honeymoon to Italy and Greece. They both continue to be Co-Leads for LeaderShape, are parents to their puppy dog Charli, and are doing the best they can to make the world more socially just.

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LeaderShape in Love: Part 1

LeaderShapeInLoveFebruary always brings about thoughts of love and at LeaderShape, we’re turning to mush over some sweet love stories from folks in our community! Over the course of this month, we want to tell you about some couples who met through LeaderShape, tell you how they fell in love, and take a peek at what’s next for them. We hope you enjoy these stories and perhaps are inspired to reconnect with your own loves!

First up is Doug Litteken and Caroline Cvetkovic. Doug and Caroline met in 2010 at an Institute session hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at Allerton Park. They hadn’t met prior to their Institute experience, but were paired up for an activity during the challenge course on the second day of their session. After that, they started communicating through notes in their mailboxes during the Institute. Doug left Caroline a note in her mailbox, thanking her for courage she had shown in an earlier activity that day. Caroline said, “The kindness from this stranger gave me confidence.”

Once they returned to campus after their session, Doug and Caroline met up for lunch. What happened after that was almost five years of long-distance dating. Doug moved to Houston to work at NASA as a structural engineer at the Johnson Space Center (you can see his talkMARS presentation on his work here), while Caroline stayed at UIUC to complete her PhD. During this time, their leadership training reminded them of why they were pursuing their passions. “LeaderShape solidified my personal values and helped to mold my adult character. It pushed me and helped me to understand how I could be comfortable being out of my comfort zone,” said Caroline. Doug said the biggest part of the Institute experience for them was talking about being vulnerable and putting themselves out there with each other and in other relationships. “It’s a hard thing to do but it can be so impactful once you do it. It’s definitely something we took from the Institute and practice regularly,” Doug said.

What’s next for this couple? They’re enjoying married life in Houston, where Caroline is a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Neuroregeneration at the Houston Methodist Research Institute. They’re active in the local alumni club, professional societies, and sports leagues, and travel back to the Midwest to visit their nephews and niece.