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Exhale, the organization I co-founded and have been leading for over 10-years is a celebrating a very special anniversary.  Five-years ago we expanded our Bay-Area post-abortion talkline into a national, multilingual service that is available everyday.  Learn more about what we’ve been doing over the last five-years on Exhale’s blog and please consider making a donationWe need to raise $15,000 by August 31st. (more…)

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I’m really appreciating all the coverage of the Oscar Grant murder and the trial of Johannes Mehserle over on OaklandSeen.com. (more…)

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Recently, a long-time friend, coach and colleague asked me for my recommendations on how she can become a super social media guru.  She’s a nonprofit consultant with vast expertise and wants to grow her skills and experience to continue to be the great resource she already is to her clients. (more…)

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I was honored to be invited by the Development Executives Roundtable to share Exhale’s experiences with major donor fundraising on April 20, 2010.

In this edited video, I share the challenges that Exhale faces and what it looks like when we do major donor fundraising right.

I was honored to receive the following feedback:

“I hope you could feel the energy and admiration in the room yesterday, as I did, as you described the work you do with EXHALE.  Many of those who attended yesterday were from small organizations, and you were an especially uplifting and encouraging force for them.  But you were for me, too.  Especially when I heard that Rush Limbaugh ranted against you!  One attendee told me how much it meant to her to finally hear from someone who works and raises money in very challenging circumstances and for a very challenging mission.  And who is succeeding. You are an inspiration.” – Marjorie Winkler, ACFRE
Fundraising Consulting & Interim Management
  

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I founded Exhale in 2000 with four other women. I was 24-years old and a recent college graduate with a resume that included 14-years worth of jobs doing newspaper delivery, babysitting, waitressing, hostessing, baristing, bartending, housekeeping, and a short stint running the front office of an Alaskan bush-flying service. After completing 5-years of college (from three schools in two states), I was ready to continue with my life’s adventures and was working on landing a new job in Antarctica.

But, then, something I did not expect happened. I got pregnant. Then, I had an abortion. And I personally experienced how the politics of the debate had left women and their loved ones behind. The debate seemed less to do with exploring the role of abortion in our lives and more about trying to prove the other side wrong. I wondered what was possible if this trend was abandoned and replaced by efforts to build something positive and life-affirming.

I decided to try. The something eventually became Exhale and ten years later I am proud to continue serving as its Executive Director.

The story of my abortion and how it led me to found Exhale is well-documented, but this story is just one small piece of what has led me to build an effective organization with such a unique mission. The last ten years have been filled with enormous challenge, breathtaking inspiration, rigorous work and intense self-reflection towards my goal of practicing sustainable leadership with impact.

I have learned a lot about leadership. Leadership is not a paid position, a reward for doing something special, or another way to describe being in charge. Leadership is earned when we take responsibility and give top performance in everything we do. It has been a rewarding ten years of leadership at Exhale and I am thrilled to share some of what I’ve learned, overcome and celebrated.

Here are my Top 10 Leadership Highlights at Exhale in the 000’s.

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Recently CNBC hosted a townhall forum at Columbia Business School with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Mr. Gates said: “business schools teach people about value.” And, we know that in the business world, time is money.

But, what about our nonprofit world? Often, we give our time for free. Sometimes as volunteers, or board members or in pro-bono arrangements. We give our time for free because we share a belief in the cause. In return for our time, we accept the opportunity to be a part of something important to us, something that fuels our soul, or fulfills our need to contribute to the world.

What about the times we, as nonprofit staff and representatives, give to other nonprofit organizations? Are collaborations always free? Who bears the brunt of the costs and how do we recognize the value contributed?

In the nonprofit sector, time, knowledge and experience are often our most important assets. We should spend our assets even more carefully than we spend our money and their exchange should be negotiated rigorously. The truth is, nothing is free. Someone is always paying. There are always costs. And our value, our assets, should never be underestimated, least of all by ourselves.

The better we understand the true costs of doing business and the real value we offer our partners, the better we will be able to leverage our assets towards our organizational and collaborative goals.

Our time is not free. Time is money. Spend it wisely.

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A woman who has had an abortion and who goes online in search of support and connection will undoubtedly find everything that is wrong with the abortion debate in this country. Shame, stigma, anger, violence, and judgment around abortion are the status quo online. Imagine if instead each woman found what she really needs: respect and understanding. Exhale envisions a better online world for women and their loved ones post-abortion and we need your help!

Exhale is in the running to receive a free, new website through the Free Range Youtopia Grant program, worth $15,000! There are more than 400 great ideas competing for the prize, and we need your vote!

Vote for Exhale today and you will take us one-step further towards our goal of a new social website that champions listening, promotes storytelling and builds empathy for every woman who has had an abortion.

Vote!

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