Nothing Else Like It
When I reflect on the impact the Fieldstone Leadership Network has had over my 10+ years of involvement, I always start by appreciating the unique space it occupies. Quite simply, there’s nothing else like it for non-profit leaders in our region.
Unlike other leadership programs, Fieldstone specifically focuses on professionals in the non-profit sector. For both developing and established leaders in the field, it offers so many things that are hard to find—training, coaching, reflecting, camaraderie, and a true sense of belonging.
While my journey started with its flagship six-month executive leadership program, it has continued with everything from in-depth retreats to quarterly networking events to year-long coaching programs.
For me, the executive leadership program offered the first opportunity to work deeply with trusted peers on common issues of interest and deeper challenges. It offered a safe space to both learn, share, and receive support from one another when confidentiality was ensured. And it spurred valuable relationships that I’ve cherished for the past 10 years and will continue to cherish for decades to come.
After five years of affiliation, I became a formal volunteer coach to new and existing non-profit leaders in the sector. This program is truly a gift! It offers in-depth, year-long support and mentorship in a supportive, confidential environment that fosters trust and growth. And we often find that the program is far from one-directional—coaches often find it nearly as valuable as their coachees.
For my own leadership journey, Fieldstone has been there through three very different leadership posts I’ve held over the past decade—from K-12 to broad-based health and human services to higher education. And both the people I’ve met and the learning I’ve acquired have proven invaluable. The simple art of listening deeply, really hearing what employees or peers have to say and what they really mean, and the patience to move slowly enough to create the space to absorb these things, has always served me well. It has allowed me to be more effective in my work, which, in turn, improves the outcomes of that work itself…translating into better programs and services for those we serve.
But underneath all of this lies something else. A quiet strength and commitment to the network created by Fieldstone’s leader, Janine Mason. While she may blush when I write this, the reality is that the organization takes on the attributes of its leadership. Unmistakably so. So the quiet sense of caring, of support, of thoughtfulness at every turn, at the core belief that the work we all do is worthy of every ounce of energy that goes into creating and sustaining these programs, all of this is palpable in every meeting Fieldstone holds, in every debrief we do, and in every training or networking event we attend. This, quite simply, wouldn’t be possible without the care and nurturing of Janine at the helm.
In closing, it’s interesting to note during this 40th anniversary year of Fieldstone’s impact that my own involvement and that of some of my closest peers only spans a quarter of the history of the network’s impact. Multiply this four times over, add all those who have been directly served by the organization, and consider the countless clients of each of those non-profits made just a little bit better by their affiliation, and you begin to grasp the breadth and depth of the difference Fieldstone has made over its tremendous history. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.
Valin Brown, CEO, Alliant Educational Foundation
Valin currently serves as the CEO of the Alliant Education Foundation, having previously worked as the CEO of the Carlsbad Education Foundation and as the Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer for United Way of San Diego County. Valin was selected as a Livingston Fellow by the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation while serving as the Executive Director of Bright Beginnings in Colorado. He is a graduate of Northwestern, receiving both his BA and MA from the university.
Valin is a graduate of Fieldstone’s Executive Leadership Group in 2012. He has also been an active member of Fieldstone’s Coaching Program since 2017. He regularly attends Fieldstone @ 4 and has participated in the Network’s Leadership Retreats.
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.