Philanthropy as Leadership

This month we are lucky enough to have thoughts on leadership, parenting, businesses, philanthropy, and their own giving organization. The tremendous Katie Woodard and Susan Beaupre, the Co-founders of Women Empowering Northern Arizona, have written about their experiences for us – enjoy!

On Leadership from Susan:

I never thought of myself as a leader or being in a primary leadership role. But as I experience and live life, I feel the leadership role finds me more often than I think.

What is the definition of a leader? “A leader is simply one who leads or commands a group, an organization, or country.” “In printing, a leader is a series of dots or dashes across the page to guide the eye.” I think over time society has elaborated on these simple definitions to include that a leader be successful, bring on change, and command authority and respect. Really, anyone is and can be a leader. A leader isn’t always positive, either. I once heard a negative leader being called a disruptor.

On Leadership from Katie:

My road to leadership and philanthropy came from a deep desire to make a difference in our community. I think that most leadership begins with a great desire to do something, something you love and are passionate about. Also to inspire to people around you. If you treat everyone around you with respect and if you lead by example, you will inspire more people to join you!

On Parenting from Susan:

As I think more about the leader roles in my life; cheerleader, first chair in band, secretary of a sorority, nurse, mom, neonatal nurse practitioner, co-founder of Women Empowering Northern Arizona (WENA), and volunteer teacher, I think these are mere titles. We are all leaders, everyday in every walk of life. Take being a parent, for example. This is the most powerful leadership role one can hold. Think about it. As a parent you have the complete attention of these brand new beings. They look to your leadership on how to eat, bathe, talk, and act from day one. Does this mean we are all great parents? No, but we are all leaders, whether we want to be or not.

Is the kid who gets everyone to smoke a cigarette a leader? Yes, he is simply guiding others to do something. This is not an example of a positive leader as neither was Hitler who commanded an entire army to do terrible things. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader and a very positive one in bringing about change to civil rights.

On Parenting and business from Katie:

As a parent, we lead our children every single day. As the owner and sole employee of a Katie Woodard Photography, I am the leader and I set the face for a successful photography and customer service experience. As the founders of Women Empowering Northern Arizona, we set the example of simple and efficient giving in Flagstaff. These are all things I am extremely passionate about.

On Philanthropy from Susan:

So, take philanthropy as leadership. Parenting is philanthropy and one of the most rewarding roles in our lives. We equip our children with the best tools to go through life. In a sense we are teaching them to be their own leaders. I feel the best leaders are those that inspire and teach others to lead. If you took all of the “top leaders” out of the picture, others not originally thought of as “leaders” would step up and do a great job. We are all born to lead. The tools, teachings and life experiences we have all contribute to the type of leader we will be.

On Philanthropy from Katie:

To be successful in leadership and philanthropy I believe there is a need for passion, honesty and commitment to the final goal. Once the passion or exciting new idea is discovered, then the details come next! As we started WENA, a friend told me to focus on the end goal. We created that goal in writing and we have stuck with it from the beginning. Honesty is so important in leadership, philanthropy and all parts of life! Being a successful leader can only work if you are honest with yourself, the people you are leading and inspiring, and the organizations you are working with.

On Women Empowering Northern Arizona from Susan:

Two years ago, my friend Katie Woodard, brought a simple and brilliant idea to me and asked if I was “in”. The goal is to get 100 women together each bringing a blank check for $100.00 with the goal of raising $10,000 for a local Flagstaff charity. Three nominated charities are randomly picked and then presented by the person who nominated them. At the end of the third presentation the group of women vote and then write their check out to the winning charity. I was sold! How brilliant and simple! Katie and I then spent the remainder of our ski date coming up with the name Women Empowering Northern Arizona. So far we have raised just under $40,000 for local non-profits including: Sharon Manor, JLB project, Northland Family Help Center, Boys and Girls Club of Flagstaff, and Flagstaff Arts Council.

The WENA group meets three times a year for just a couple of hours and we feel we have accomplished so much. Life is busy! We are all busy being leaders in our own way as parents, partners, professionals, and for ourselves. WENA is the perfect philanthropy for today’s busy life, and philanthropy is leadership. Philanthropy is defined as the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. Providing welfare and money to others is the ultimate form of leadership and in the process we feel better ourselves. I, myself, am not able to give $10,000 at any given time, but to give $100 three times a year has empowered me to make a difference and lead others to do so. With philanthropy, we are helping other potential leaders with means to better themselves, so they can empower individuals. So remember when I wrote that leaders can be both positive and negative and anyone is a leader? Well, philanthropy helps guide those to be better leaders.

Final thought from Susan:
What better gift then the gift of leadership?

Final thought from Katie:
It is easy to lead when you are doing something you love!

Katie Woodard

Co-founder of WENA (hyperlink to Katie is the co-founder of Women Empowering Northern Arizona.  She is the owner of Katie Woodard Photography ( hyper link to and specializes in newborn and family photography in Flagstaff, AZ.  She is a wife and mom to two sweet boys.


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