‘Solving society’s biggest challenges’ starts with fostering York’s nonprofit leaders

The White Rose Leadership Institute, formed in 2018, leverages members of York’s non-profit community to help each other solve common problems.

Story paid for by: Give Local York
Written by: Anthony Machcinski
As part of the York Federal Fellows, Bob Pullo, left, has mentored dozens of York’s nonprofit leaders like Jose Santiago. Last year, the group used the combined resources of its 63 alumni to create the White Rose Leadership Institute to further develop York’s nonprofit leadership. (Photo by Paul Chaplin for Our York Media)

About 15 years ago, Bob Pullo noticed a gap in the local nonprofit sector. Its leaders weren’t getting the same training and support as their counterparts in the for-profit realm.

Jenny Englerth remembers feeling the strain when she became President and CEO of Family First Health in 2004.

“In many sectors, it’s seen as appropriate to take care of yourself as a leader, but in the nonprofit sector, it could be viewed as not being a good steward of public funds,” she says. “If, as a sector we are going to be solving society’s biggest challenges, then doing things that support leaders’ well-rounded growth are essential.”

Looking to give back to the community after years at the helm of York Federal Savings & Loan, Mr. Pullo created the York Federal Fellows in 2005. The program sought to encourage nonprofit leaders to get the same training and mentorship programs as those in other sectors, while also finding time to find personal growth.

“For any leader, it’s lonely at the top,” says Mr. Pullo. “But we knew we could be doing a better job of taking care of those who run York’s nonprofits. We wanted to connect them, to share with each other, share their issues and their challenges.”

Members of the York Federal Fellows listen to a presentation during a graduation ceremony for the newest York Federal Fellows in January. Members of the group meet regularly throughout the year, creating a fraternity with the common bond of creating a better York. (Photo by Paul Chaplin for Our York Media)

About the program

Today, York Federal Fellows flies under the banner of the newly formed White Rose Leadership Institute. Its mission, though, remains the same: invest in local nonprofit leadership.

Fellows in the program are given $5,000 to use toward personal and professional growth.

Professional growth often means attending different conferences across the country in an area of their choosing. The personal growth can be anything. Some recent growth opportunities for this class of Federal Fellows included taking up yoga, birding, and retracing familial roots.

“This should be a time to take a breath and refresh, but also to push people out of their comfort zones,” says Jenny, who spent time in Guatemala and learning Spanish for her personal growth in 2009. “I got to experience many of the places where our patients are coming from, and I wouldn’t have taken that time without this opportunity.”

Bob Pullo, founder of the York Federal Fellows and White Rose Leadership Institute, wanted York to do a better job of taking care of those who run local nonprofits. "We wanted to connect them, to share with each other, share their issues and their challenges,” he says. (Photos by Paul Chaplin for Our York Media)

Elevating the nonprofits

Over the years, as the York Federal Fellows grew beyond 60 alumni, Mr. Pullo saw an increasing opportunity to leverage the network for greater use. The Fellows would meet several times throughout the year, but many wondered if there was more they could do.

Last year, that materialized into Give Local York, a 24-hour fundraising spree that raised nearly $1.5 million for more than 200 nonprofits.

In 2018, Give Local York and the York Federal Fellows were placed under the same umbrella, the newly formed White Rose Leadership Institute.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the organization’s mission is to grow and develop the nonprofit sector in York, whether that was financially through Give Local York, or by further educating executive directors, by offering further training and resources through future programs of the Institute.

“We want to continue to elevate the role of the nonprofit in York,” says Jenny, who now serves as a board chair for the institute. “Our success will come with really strong engagement and design driven by the nonprofit leaders.”

Appell Center President and CEO Todd Fogdall and Mary Studinski, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center, are two of the most recent graduates of the York Federal Fellows. Graduates give a presentation on the personal and professional growth at the end of their year. (Photo by Paul Chaplin for Our York Media)

Growing good leaders

Years after her fellowship, Jenny still deals with the strain of being at the top.

Through supporting each other – both formally in classes and by meetings outside of it – she believes the White Rose Leadership Institute will foster not only her career but others in York’s blossoming non-profit community.

“If you grow good leaders, good things happen,” she says. “That’s what is unique about this group, and that’s what’s helping York be a better place.”

One of the first accomplishments of the White Rose Leadership Institute was Give Local York, a 24-hour fundraising effort headed by Meagan Given, center. The day raised nearly $1.5 million with plans to exceed that amount this year. Meagan is in the process of becoming a York Federal Fellow this year. (Photo by Paul Chaplin for Our York Media)

Story paid for by Give Local York

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