Humbling, Inspiring, and Empowering
I first came to Fieldstone Leadership Network San Diego when I was one year into my role as Executive Director of the San Diego Women’s Foundation.
The one-year mark was the perfect time to participate in the six-month Executive Learning Group. The first year in any new job is uniquely draining – you have to learn the job as you do it. That’s even more true in a leadership role, where you’re charged with making decisions that affect your staff and the future of the organization.
After a year, my head was above water but I was still very much learning the role. How fast could I move toward change? What was I even allowed to change? What was the right balance of inclusive versus decisive? How on earth could I find time to get to the important things that had been on my to-do list since my very first day?
The monthly, full-day sessions offered a chance to get out of the day-to-day and think about how I could grow to be the most effective in my role.
It was valuable to spend time each month with trusted peers in similar roles. It was reassuring to hear that we were all navigating variations of the same challenges. I was grateful for their insights and to have the chance to learn from the leadership styles around the table. And I realized that, even in a group of leaders that I so admired, I had learning and insights of my own to benefit the group.
It was humbling, inspiring and empowering. Being part of the Fieldstone Leadership Network San Diego continues to be all three of those things.
I’m no longer Executive Director of SDWF, but I am deeply proud of the work I did in partnership with our staff, members and partners. The organization is stronger today than ever, with a dedicated membership, a commitment to trust-based philanthropy, and a well-earned reputation as a strategic funder with meaningful impact.
I’m particularly proud to have hired a Program Manager who has become SDWF’s current Executive Director. Stephanie Cook leads the organization with strategy, expertise and bold vision. She is in the current Fieldstone Executive Learning Group, and I have no doubt that SDWF will continue to benefit from the growth and connection that Fieldstone provides.
The lessons and skills I’ve developed have carried through to my role leading donor engagement and philanthropy advising at San Diego Foundation. And now as a Coach in Fieldstone’s Executive Coaching program, I am happy to continue to help leaders in our sector grow.
As leaders, we think a lot about how to develop our staff but not enough about our own development. Landing the CEO/ED role shouldn’t mean that we’re finished learning and growing – especially when the decisions we make shape the sector that serves our community in such vital ways.
It matters that this sector has strong leaders. Fieldstone invests in leaders and connects us to each other. I am grateful and proud to be part of the Fieldstone community.
Katie Sawyer, Donor and Community Engagement, San Diego Foundation
Katie has participated in Fieldstone’s Executive Learning Group and Equity Journey 3.0, and is a current Coach in the Fieldstone Executive Coaching Program. She is Senior Director of Donor and Community Engagement at San Diego Foundation and has been in nonprofit and philanthropy leadership roles for fifteen years. She has not (yet) participated in a Fieldstone Leadership Reading Group, but she shamelessly steals book recommendations from Janine and Reading Group participants.
Each week during our 40th anniversary year, a member of our Network will share what Fieldstone means to them and how being a part of this learning and leadership community has impacted them and the work they do to serve the community.
If you have a story you would like to contribute to our collection, please contact Janine Mason.