LeadeShape Alive: Vision

By: Joanna Lindstrom, L Professional Writing

1441829273490Vision directs us where we are supposed to go. For Heather (Shaw) Haubenschild, vision has directed her profession, her faith, and her community.

With her strong community in place and unparalleled enthusiasm, Heather set out to accomplish her vision: to provide necessary, community-based services for children with special needs at little to no cost to the family.

It started with her. Upon graduating from college, Heather landed a job working with the local “child-find” agency that helps identify children with special needs and match them with services. This was an important part of her journey because she not only learned about services available in her state but, perhaps most importantly where there were gaping holes.

“Across all sectors and services, respite care was virtually non-existent,” Heather said. “I’ve heard Colorado ranks 49th out of all states in terms of providing respite care for families with children with special needs.”

Profession, vision and need soon intersected with her faith. For years, Heather and her family attended a the large and thriving community, Southeast Christian Church. While the youth and children’s ministries were thriving, there were no services for children with special needs. The choice for these families to not attend was far easier than being called out of worship to go the nursery several times, or even the fear of being judged.

Heather went to action. She spoke with the children’s ministry team passionately about the need and set a plan in place. Within months, the volunteer-led Sensory Friendly Room was opened. The first volunteers were Heather and her husband who provided weekly care for four children with special needs.

Today, six and a half years later, the Sensory Friendly Room is now an integral part of the church ministries with 12 regular children, paid staff and many volunteers.  Each week volunteers provide a safe, welcoming environment for children who are considered “higher needs.” Children can choose their own activities to help them grow in their faith their own way.

Just this year, Sensory Friendly Room expanded to include six children in the Buddy Program. In this program, teenagers are paired with a child who needs a little extra support in their typical Sunday school room. Children involved have special needs that require some additional assistance in large groups.

10429303_427866284038361_8366151989328106430_n1And the vision keeps growing! Beginning this year, Heather started partnering with the nonprofit organization, Night Lights, that provides a monthly night of respite to families with children with special needs. Night Lights specifically partners with local churches – like Heather’s – who have the resources, rooms, and volunteers in place to provide this needed night out for parents, free of charge. Unlike many respite programs, this is available for all children with special needs AND their siblings. Volunteers are paired one-on-one with all children and they do all the things they would with a “babysitter” – play games, do crafts, watch movies.

As Heather has transformed services for children with special needs in her community her greatest desire is to now watch it grow to a place of long-term sustainability. That’s long-term vision where all of us LeaderShape graduates are directed.

We want to share all stories of LeaderShape visions coming alive. What’s your story? You could be featured on an upcoming LeaderShape blog. Or maybe your vision has been adapted since your original retreat. If so, you’ll relate to next week’s blog story about Heather’s roommate and confidant, Caroline.

img_20160307_201446Joanna (Thomas) Lindstrom is a writer/editor and the third roommate of Caroline and Heather. She primarily writes grants for medium-sized nonprofits but also dabbles in blog, newswriting, and fiction. Joanna lives in Colorado with her husband, toddler, and slightly neurotic Schnauzer. She loves living close enough to meet with Caroline and Heather regularly. Visit her online: lprowriting.com

Friday 5: Dinner Party? 5 Leaders I would Invite

Growing up, my family sat down to eat dinner together 7 days a week. So it’s no surprise that connecting with people over food is one of my favourite ways to spend my free time. It’s not just because I love food – I also love the questions, laughs, and stories that can be shared when people sit down to connect with one another.

Can you imagine the transformative conversations that would happen if the 75,000-strong LeaderShape community attended one large dinner party?


That got me thinking – if I could invite 5 leaders to a dinner party, who would I invite and why? The 5 leaders I chose demonstrate building community, resilience, vulnerability, vision, and empowerment.

Chance the Rapper: Building Community
Chance the Rapper is an active leader in his local Chicago community. After hosting a concert in Chicago’s Grant Park the day before the 2016 US presidential elections, Chance the Rapper led a parade of thousands of voters through the streets of Chicago, IL to an early voting site. Why? Because according to Chance, “The fact that you’re an artist that has millions of ears that potentially can reach hundreds of millions of ears and spirits and hearts…why not use that gift to uplift others and to speak up for others who don’t get to speak up?”

This isn’t the first time Chance the Rapper has given back to Chicago. In 2015, he partnered with The Empowerment Plan for The Warmest Winter. This project created over 1000 self-heating, water-resistant jackets that doubled as sleeping bags for the homeless in Chicago! Chance has also raised more than $100,000 for new technology equipment to help six Chicago elementary schools as part of the Get Schooled program.

I would invite Chance to my dinner party because to me, he reminds me that I don’t need to be a rapper in order to build community. Leadership is about uplifting others and I can start where I am with what I have.

Malala Yousafzai: Resilience
The youngest guest at my dinner party would be an 18 year old Pakistani girl who also happens to be the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize! She is Malala Yousafzai. Among the many inspirational words that she has shared, she once said, “If we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.” After surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012, Malala forgave her attacker and she even left Jon Stewart so speechless he jokingly asked about adopting her!

Her bravery, kindness and humility inspires my leadership and I would be in tears to have a resilient leader like her as a dinner guest! Despite setbacks, threats and barriers, Malala is an example of staying true to your core values and staying committed to your vision of making the world a better place.   

Brené Brown: Vulnerability
Vulnerability is a continuous work in progress for me. Yet something tells me if Brené Brown accepted an invitation to my dinner party, I would have no problem being completely vulnerable with her. And that is probably due to how authentic, transparent and approachable she is. For me, Brené Brown embodies “to lead, live,” because she inspires me to be the type of leader who can quiet my inner voice when it nags me with fear and doubt. She inspires me to be the type of leader that isn’t afraid to be seen, in all my imperfections. And she inspires me to be the type of leader that has clarity of values. As a vulnerability researcher and storyteller, Brené probably has a plethora of leadership lessons to share – and you can hear some of those lessons in my favourite talk by her: “Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count.”

Steve Jobs: Vision
Visionary. Master Storyteller. Inventor. If dinner parties had a keynote speaker, mine would be Steve Jobs.  His legacy may be obvious, but I think that we will be studying the leadership lessons he taught us for a long time. As a leader, storytelling is a powerful way to connect with others and articulate our vision. Steve Jobs did this every time he took the stage at an Apple Event. We can even look at each of his 458 invention and design patents as stretch and manageable goals that contribute to his overarching vision for Apple. Steve Jobs is a leader whose passion, focus and determination transformed not only Apple as a company, but transformed the world. This article “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs” has some interesting anecdotes about Steve Jobs as a leader that I would definitely want to ask him about during a dinner party.

Alexis Jones: Empowerment
About 2 years ago, I bought a book titled, “I Am That Girl: How to Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose, and #bethatgirl,” by Alexis Jones.  I can be very picky about self-help books, but I found this book to be incredibly empowering and highly recommend it. Outside of writing a book, Alexis Jones has co-founded I Am That Girl, a non-profit organization that values community, emotional, physical and mental well-being, leadership, diversity and meaningful conversations. All topics that I want my leadership to address and impact. Alexis also founded the ProtectHer Program, an initiative aimed at addressing domestic abuse and sexual assault on campuses. And if you follow her on Instagram, you’ll see that Alexis is incredibly down-to-earth and open about who she is and what she is all about. Plus she was a contestant on Survivor, so that would make great dinner conversation as well.

Brené Brown, Malala, Chance the Rapper, Steve Jobs, and Alexis Jones are all leaders I look up to and can learn a lot from. If you had to invite 5 leaders to a dinner party, who would you choose? And what leadership lessons can you learn from them?


Clivane Previlon plans to host a “girls’ night in” dinner party for her closest friends in the near future. Until then, she looks forward to receiving her undergrad degree in June 2017 and pursuing a career as a communications professional. When she’s not on Twitter (@clivaneprevilon), Clivane loves kickboxing, reading, and blogging. Connect with her at: www.clivane.com.

LeaderShape Alive: Community

By: Joanna Lindstrom, L Professional Writing

Bagel sandwiches helped create a community. The Institute gave it a shared vision and strong accountability.

The year was 2007. Roommates Caroline (Welch) Kipp and Heather (Shaw) Haubenschild (pictured with Joanna Lindstrom) roomate-loveshared bagel sandwiches on their fixed college income, speared toilet paper (that’s a long story) and became close friends over the course of the school year. The close-knit community was created.

As the year wrapped up, Caroline encouraged Heather to participate in the week-long LeaderShape retreat she had attended the year prior.

“To me, LeaderShape was about stretching – both my goals and my comfort zone,” Caroline said. “It taught me to think big and then act.”

Caroline shared with Heather her vision to change the journalism industry by creating a culture of journalists who report with integrity. But, most importantly, she demonstrated her commitment to integrity every day as she battled ethical issues and reported on controversial topics as the Editor-in-Chief of the college magazine.

Intrigued by her words and inspired by her actions, Heather signed-up.

On the other side of the retreat, Heather found the experience to be as monumental as her roommate did. The vision Heather created was to provide necessary, community-based services for children with special needs at little to no cost to the family.

“LeaderShape taught me the value of collaboration and team work. It’s amazing what we can accomplish for each other when we work together.”

Communities evolve with changing times. The days of sharing space and bagel sandwiches are gone, but the pair continues to rely on each other.

“No matter what, Caroline is my go-to person,” Heather said. “She is the person I can trust will reignite my passion and keep me true to my vision.”

Like a bagel sandwich with two slices and a filling- this story has three parts. Stay tuned next week to read how Institute grad Heather is changing the way faith-communities embrace children with special needs.

Share with us – Who is your community? Who keeps you true to your vision?
Comment below or use #leadershapeinstitute #mycommunity in social media.


Joanna (Thomas) Lindstrom is a writer/editor and the third roommate of Caroline and Heather. She primarily writes grants for medium-sized nonprofits but also dabbles in blog, newswriting, and fiction. Joanna lives in Colorado with her husband, toddler, and slightly neurotic Schnauzer. She loves living close enough to meet with Caroline and Heather regularly. Visit her online: lprowriting.com