Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Emergent Sage Leadership: Interview of Cristine Kelly

Emergent Sage Leadership: Interview of Cristine Kelly

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Throughout this time, during and after college, I continued to work in the horse industry, training horses and teaching riding. Soon after college I met my future husband through mutual friends. He worked in art galleries and lived in New York. I moved there and began working in a major horse facility in Westchester with such families as the (Calvin) Kleins and the Bloombergs. I started a “Horses in the Hood” program that bused kids in from the Bronx to experience horses.  The local community didn’t truly embrace the program, and there were many obstacles. I was 23 at the time and didn’t want to live in such a stratified society.  That, combined with the collapse of the art business in the late 80’s, propelled my husband and I to get in our jeep and move to California.

We lived in San Francisco, and I worked with horses and people in Woodside. A couple of years later we found out we were going to have a baby. It didn’t take long to figure-out other areas that would be more affordable and conducive to raising a child.  When I first visited the foothills, it was November and there was frost and wood smoke in the air. It reminded me of New England. So we moved to Penn Valley. My husband worked at Milhouse, and I built my horse business.

I have a great love of teaching people and helping them to become stronger. I still have contact with former students, and it is deeply gratifying to hear them talk of the impact of our relationship. After the birth of our second child I cut back on working and focused on my children and their schools, as my husband had started his own insurance agency. I became involved in the Charter Council, the Education Foundation, and the Capital Campaign for Yuba River Charter School.  I felt increasingly drawn to service work. Then, several years ago, my husband and I divorced. As difficult as it was, divorce served as sort of a launching pad.  All of a sudden, I needed a full time job.

I applied, interviewed, and was hired as a Communications Director of the Ama Foundation (fundraising for AmaGhar – a Nepalese refuge program and facility) and eventually became the Executive Director. The work was challenging but very gratifying, and I was proud to have led the organization from a single service program to becoming more of an umbrella agency for several social service efforts in Nepal. The organization grew increasingly fiscally sound, but the board was divided over direction. I didn’t want to become the triangulation point and decided to resign, without any immediate job prospects at the time. I stopped working in January 2009, and in February began my current position as Executive Director of the Sierra Mentoring Partnership.

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