LeaderShape in Love: Part 3

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 week, we’re telling you about Gretchen Hoppe and Peyton Lightfoot who met as participants at an Institute session at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse! The two met in their family cluster during the first day of their Institute session, but Gretchen had seen Peyton before. She’d first laid eyes on him at the participant orientation session a few weeks before their Institute session. She remembers thinking he was pretty cute and was hoping to interact with him once they got to their session.

During the Institute, Peyton stayed after a session to ask a question, but handed Gretchen his backpack and asked her to save him a spot next to her for lunch. Gretchen said, “That is when I first had an idea that he might be interested in me in the same way I was interested in him. This gave me the courage to pursue further conversation more towards a relationship rather than just as friends.”

Gretchen and Peyton often find themselves thinking back on their Institute experience and all they learned about themselves. They spent so much time talking to each other about their core values and what is important to them.

While they’re both still students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, they’re also continuing to work on the visions they created at the Institute. In the meantime, they’re debating names for their future pet kitten, and are season ticket holders for Forward Madison FC, a semi-pro soccer club.

 

 

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.