Haley is the Director, Learning & Education at Serious Fun Children’s Network. This global nonprofit is a worldwide network of camps and programs that provide life-changing opportunities for children and families who are impacted by serious illness.
WIA: How did you find out about the Women’s Impact Alliance?
Haley: I found out about WIA a number of years before I applied. While I was researching other fellowship models when I was designing a fellowship program for my organization, I ran across it and remembered bookmarking the site and thinking, I really want to apply for this someday. I was just starting my family and I didn’t feel like I was in the mental place to fully take advantage of the coaching experience. So I waited a couple of years to apply.
WIA: What specifically caught your attention about WIA?
Haley:I hadn’t seen anything like WIA that was focused on providing coaching opportunities. I’d seen a lot of leadership development and training, but not a program that was specifically making it affordable for women in the impact space. So I immediately resonated with what WIA was offering and held on to the thought of applying for quite a while.
WIA: Why did you apply to WIA when you did?
Haley: When I finally decided to apply, I was at a crossroads of taking on a higher leadership position at my organization. I had a new team and was unsure how to step into that space. I just knew that working with a coach would benefit me and it was at the perfect time when I had the bandwidth to get my head straight before that next transition in my career and personal life. I’m a mother of very young children and I was in between babies two and three when I did the coaching.
I’d seen a lot of leadership development and training, but not a program that was specifically making it affordable for women in the impact space. I immediately resonated with what WIA was offering.
WIA: Have you been coached before? Or was this coaching experience entirely new for you?
Haley: In my past life, I contracted as a career coach, and I coach people informally in my role a lot. I had some informal coaching in the past, but I’d never been formally coached. And so this was an incredible opportunity for me because I’ve been putting this type of energy outward a lot, but I’ve never had someone invest in me on a more long-term basis. So the WIA coaching relationship made me appreciate the opportunity even more.
WIA: What is your field of social change and what are your current responsibilities?
Haley: I work for an organization called SeriousFun Children’s Network. We are a global network of camps and programs that provide life-changing opportunities for children and families who are impacted by serious illness. All of it is free of charge to the families who participate in our programs, and we’re all over the world. We have 30 camps and programs across the US, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.
My role is to oversee all the learning and education initiatives of the staff. I feel really fortunate for the opportunity to invest every single day in these incredible professionals on the front lines who are literally changing the lives of amazing and deserving kids. Our team helps to make their jobs easier, create professional development opportunities, and bring them together to learn from one another.
This was an incredible opportunity for me because I've been putting this type of energy outward a lot, but I’ve never had someone invest in me on a more long-term basis.
WIA: What informed your social conscience? Tell us a bit about your journey to being a change maker.
Haley: I was raised in a family that was very committed to giving back to our communities. When I moved to Houston, I got exposed to the disparity in the education system and learned that depending on which neighborhood you lived in dictated the quality of education you received. I became very passionate about trying to help change that landscape and so I became a teacher right out of college. I took some of our students to work with Peace Corps volunteers and fell in love with the community development work happening over there.
My experience in getting a master’s degree in International Development and doing more fieldwork allowed me to see patterns in how different organizations worked in local communities. I started to see that the type of work that I wanted to do with the rest of my career was investing in the people who are on the frontlines, in their local communities, in their local spaces and working to do anything I could do to support them. I feel lucky to have found an organization that has that same commitment to working in that way with local communities.
WIA: What was your connection like with your coach?
Haley: I adore Linda. There was something magical the first time I talked to her and we connected instantly. It felt like she was my dear old friend that had known me forever. I immediately felt comfortable. From the first moment I started talking to her I knew I had someone who believed in me and was in my corner, like in it to win it with me. She has a very direct way of giving feedback that was so honest and pure and gritty - I was getting everything I didn’t know I needed.
WIA: What are some of the things you worked on with your coach?
Haley: She really challenged the way that I was thinking. I’d been at my organization for a long time when I started working with her. She helped me break down some of the cycles of thinking I had developed and taken for granted and just helped me see things completely differently. To this day I can hear her coaching me in my head with the frameworks and resources she taught me. But I think the biggest thing was knowing that she was in my corner and I could come to her with what I was struggling through in that moment. She was there for me and my journey which gave me the confidence that has stuck with me even past the point of this program.
From the first moment I started talking to my coach I knew I had someone who believed in me and was in my corner, like in it to win it with me.
WIA: How did the coaching benefit you? What were some of your biggest takeaways?
Haley: One of the biggest benefits is just the power of having someone in your corner. I want to be in other women’s corners the way Linda was for me.
She really worked with me on the difference between niceness and kindness, that being super nice and super empathetic can actually be detrimental. She helped me see that having more radical candor and a direct approach can help me support someone with genuine empathy. That was such an a-ha moment. If we’re not speaking directly to each other, then we’re not even helping each other. So I think about that all the time.
She also taught me about the left-hand column on the page - what is not being said over there and how bringing those things into the conversation would make it more genuine, authentic, and productive.
WIA: How did the WIA experience with your coach change you as a leader?
Haley: I found my voice, and I’m much more confident in using my voice. My coach helped me see right through the imposter syndrome, and when I was skirting around or thinking that I didn’t have something of value to say. She helped me to see each person on my team as an individual and what they needed from me as their leader, giving me the confidence to lead authentically and realize my value.
WIA: A word or two to describe your coach?
Haley: A force. She was a catalyst. She connected me to so many amazing people and resources during our time and still does.
I found my voice, and I'm much more confident in using my voice. My coach helped me see right through the imposter syndrome.
WIA: Beyond coaching, how was your experience with the WIA community?
Haley: The WIA community was one of the things that really attracted me to this program, just the idea of being part of a bigger network. The community is amazing. I mean, these women are doing the most incredible work and I loved how I was on these calls with women from around the world - like Thailand and Romania. I loved being connected to these beautiful leaders, changing the world all over the place.
I also really appreciate the way the WIA program is administered. I often use the WIA as a model for my team. There was so much integrity to the entire experience, from the first email I received to the application and selection process, where I felt like the organization was very true to its values through every single interaction.
WIA: Would you recommend the Women’s Impact Alliance, and what would you say to encourage them to join?
Haley: Absolutely. I recommend this experience all the time. It’s at the very top of my list of recommendations to women leaders.
The first thing I usually say is this is an opportunity to have someone who is in your corner looking at you, investing in you. They’ll see you for who you are and work with you toward your goals. I think this is one of the best programs out there that I’ve experienced.
WIA: What type of person would be a good match for a WIA Catalyst?
Haley: I think that anyone who is at a space in their career where they’re ready to grow or change or make a change, but may not know entirely how to approach that, and could use a sounding board with a network of other amazing people who are in a similar space. Someone who’s willing to be open-minded and challenged and willing to be vulnerable. And obviously, someone who wants to make a difference in the world is a good match for this program, because everyone I’ve interacted with in this space has that going for them.
The WIA community was one of the things that really attracted me to this program, just the idea of being part of a bigger network. I loved being connected to these beautiful leaders, changing the world.
WIA: What are your thoughts on the impact of WIA?
Haley: Something I’ll forever carry with me from this program is how Jane and everyone at WIA are working together to pave the way in creating opportunities for their fellow women. This is a call to action to pay that forward. I can feel the ripple effects. If we’re willing to invest in ourselves, and look out and see other people we can invest in, then it’s going to change the world for the better. All of us who participated in this program can continue pushing that ripple effect out because it’s pretty powerful. This is one of the most beautiful programs I’ve been able to be part of, and I hope that it goes on and on and just keeps creating many ripples.
WIA: What’s a word or two about how you feel about your WIA experience?
Haley: Empowered and inspired!