Purposeful Stories: A roundup of Q+A's with inspiring leaders from the first half of 2017

purposeful leaders

Education. Women’s issues. Art. Advocacy and activism. This work - and the people behind it - that's what Purposeful is all about.

I’ve had the great privilege of interviewing a number of purpose-driven leaders over the last several months, and I want to take a moment to share some highlights. Maybe you read these posts originally but missed a few details – maybe you’re discovering Purposeful for the first time (and if so, sign up to be a part of our community!). Either way, there are some lovely tidbits here for anyone who loves stories of leadership and purpose.

1) “Someone Saw Me”

CEO of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado Lauren Casteel is a leader who speaks with great clarity about purpose.Whatever one's purpose may be or whatever that may look like, I don't think it's about the arrival at a particular mountaintop or a particular title. I think if one's purpose is to be the best parent that one can be, or the best friend, or the best person who can demonstrate passion and compassion, then that is wonderful.” Lauren’s interview is jam-packed with wisdom. Read it all here.

2) A Values-Driven Career

Chris Watney spent many years as president of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, only leaving recently to pursue counseling and coaching full time. Chris lives by her values, driven by a lifetime of experience that includes witnessing the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. She says, “The reason it was a tragedy was the impact on so many individuals. Also, its perpetrators were two people who were not born sociopaths, if you spend the time to figure out their stories. These were two people who believed they were doing something important. So where along the way did individuals miss opportunities to identify that and help them?” Read more here.

3) A High School Senior-Turned-Entrepreneur

Nigeria Segure-Watson is a high school senior in New York and board member at GripTape, where she was empowered to learn entrepreneurship -- and how to be successful. “To me, it just feels like I've grown so much since then. There were points that I wanted to give up... there were points where I felt like this was the best thing in the world. I truly wouldn't change any type of moment while doing the challenge.” Read her Q+A.

4) Let’s Grow Diamonds!

Pamela Norton-Shelpuk is founder and CEO of Liberti, a company that’s, among other things, developing American-made, “grown” diamonds. By doing this, she’s helping create direct competition with “blood diamonds” and their impact on people and the environment. She says, “We believe growing diamonds in this country appeals to women who are socially conscious, eco-conscious. We’re creating a whole new market in this country for a product that didn’t exist and does now: it’s an American cultivated diamond.” Her company is also helping refugees in America. Super inspiring stuff. Read more.

5) A Photographer with a Purpose

Photographer and multimedia artist Flor Blake has made striking portraits of Misty Copeland, Gloria Steinem and Cornel West, to name a few. In this Q+A, she shares how she got into photography in the first place – and the secrets behind her beautiful images. Flor says, “I always wanted to go and take a drawing class or a painting class or a photography class, and I never did because I thought I would never be good enough. So when I stopped working at the PR agency, I suddenly had all this time, and I thought, I’m going to go and take a photography class. I haven’t looked back.”

6) Community Advocate

Colorado Representative James Coleman calls himself “a voice for the community, a voice for people for people that don't always feel like they're being heard.” He recently finished out his freshman year at the Capitol on a variety of issues, including support for peace officers. He said, ”I was proud to support police officers, especially as a black man. There's a lot of folks who didn't think that a black man would introduce a piece of legislation to support law enforcement officers across the state given what's been going on across this country between the relationship with African-American folks and police officers. But I think it aligns with my values, and at the end of the day, that's why I've been blessed to be in a position of leadership - because of that mentality.” Read more about James’ inspiration and all the issues that matter to him.

7) Saving an Old Art

Tom Parson is CEO of Letterpress Depot, an old train depot in Englewood, Colorado, which will soon be home to a museum, library, and teaching space all about letterpress. The organization just finished a crowdsourcing campaign to raise money for the building’s restoration, which will be a place for Tom’s collection of letterpress ephemera, among other things. He is building a museum to ensure his passion lives on. “If I want to save this stuff, I've got to build a community that knows what it is, and actually owns it.”

8) The CEO with a Passion for Literacy

The daughter of a high school art teacher and librarian, Jeani Frickey Saito is now a vital advocate for early childhood literacy. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from her Q+A: “Early literacy is a non-negotiable now. A healthy Democracy relies on educated and engaged citizens. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s a national threat to have people who are disenfranchised because they can’t read written news or written information from candidates and elected officials. Think of the battles waged in the Middle East over construction of a school, and the battles for girls in developing countries to become educated. There’s no excuse for our country for not doing better, with all of the resources we have. “

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