A leader can be made in many ways—on the field, in the office, or even in the community. Through hard work and dedication to their team they gain confidence and the respect of their peers. Leaders show grit and determination, and a passion for whatever the task at hand.
This Goodwill spotlight is all about these leaders—cultivating them, and giving them the opportunity to shine and succeed.
“BlazeSports America is the legacy nonprofit organization of the 1996 Paralympic Games that were held here in Atlanta,” says Cynthia Frisina, Executive Director of BlazeSports. “We are a nonprofit organization that serves children, teenagers, and veterans in adaptive and Paralympic sports. We also do international work in several different countries, as well as training and education nationally. We are the only organization nationally that is certified in adaptive sports and recreation training.”
From children to veterans, Frisina talks about how everyone can find a place in sports. “We believe that everyone can participate in sports,” she says. “We have seen how sports have changed people’s lives. It becomes the highlight of what they do.”
One example Frisina offers is the story of a wounded veteran who came back from war paralyzed from the waist down, depressed, with PTSD, and attempting multiple times to commit suicide. He is now participating in track and field with BlazeSports, and is on the road to making it to the Paralympics.
She also shares the story of an eleven-year-old athlete with a severe spinal cord injury. He participates in four different sports, and his family gotten involved with the organization. This year they were awarded “Volunteer Family of the Year.”
Another local organization championing leadership is Portara Consulting. “I’m a consultant psychologist, and I’ve been in this business for about 18 years,” says Karen Foster of Portara Consulting. “I’m really a single-practitioner, but I have others in my network. I consider myself to be a trusted leadership adviser.”
Foster offers her services to individuals and organizations around the topics of leadership and leadership development. She meets with the individual seeking leadership development, in an interview of sorts, and they both determine if the other is a good fit. “It’s the fit that really makes a difference,” she says.
Once hired, Foster starts with a 360 degree evaluation to gather data around the individual. She talks to the individual, but also their peers and coworkers. This feedback paints a fuller picture of the individual’s leadership style.
They then discuss an action plan and how to address the feedback. Most work lasts about a year, as the individual is constantly growing and developing in their leadership. The two meet at least once a month, sometimes twice a month, for 1.5 hours.
Foster encounters a lot of lopsided leaders, or those who are very analytical and less in tune with how they have an impact with people around them. She also works with reluctant leaders, or those with great technical skill, but who are a bit ambivalent about leadership and managing people.
“I try to adapt how I’m talking and my values based on the values of the individuals I am working with and the organization they are in,” she added.
To contact Foster, interested individuals can go to www.potaraconsulting.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.