The Power of Leading from Within

By Giving List Staff   |   October 29, 2021

Our country’s nonprofit sector is notorious for high burnout and voluntary turnover rates that exceed the average of most industries. According to a recent survey, nearly half of nonprofit employees planned to seek new employment in the next five years.

Enter Leading From Within, a nonprofit established in 2008 to support and sustain social sector leaders with intensive programs that focus on renewal, leadership development, and peer community. As its Executive Director Ed France says, Leading From Within provides “a safety net for the people who provide the safety net for our society.”

Whether it’s Courage to Lead, an 18-month retreat program consisting of five quarterly retreats, or the Emerging Leaders Program, Leading For Community Impact, or Katherine Harvey Fellows, Leading From Within has supported more than 500 leaders of Santa Barbara nonprofits through its programs.

“You have so much passion to do this work and even if you’re financially sustained, you’re not psychologically sustained unless you build the systems and communities of support for the long haul,” France says.

One person who understands the importance of building strong support systems for social sector leaders is Erik Talkin, the CEO of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara. Talkin is also an alumnus of the Courage to Lead program (2010-11) and a regular at gatherings with other program alumni. 

“When the program was created, there was nothing like it at the time,” Talkin says. “There was no vehicle for nonprofit directors to do something together that wasn’t competing to raise money. It’s a good opportunity to just refocus.”

Talkin embodies the aspirational thinking of the program, and has helped to successfully transition Foodbank’s paradigm of need from providing calories to community health. Through the program, Talkin also met another Courage to Lead graduate, Sigrid Wright, the CEO of the Community Environmental Council. The encounter outlined common ground for transformative change. Soon after, Talkin and Wright led a new collaborative called the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network, a multi-stakeholder partnership largely led by the CEC and the Foodbank to address food insecurity while strengthening Santa Barbara’s food systems.

New collaborations and community resources such as this exist due to a meeting of different minds brought together by Leading From Within.

“To be successful in the nonprofit world, you have to hold a vision for a better world while living in the world that exists. You have to be conscious but not overwhelmed of that gap,” France says. “We support talented community leaders who have courageously embarked on daunting efforts.”


Leading From Within

Donate now!
Phone: (805) 203-6940
Executive Director: Edward France


Investing in leaders that serve the public good. We live in a region filled with dedicated leaders who give their whole selves towards improving our communities, but, sadly, who too often work in an environment of scarcity, isolation and competition. We need social sector leaders who are prepared, renewed, connected and collaborating, and who represent the broad diversity of our region. At Leading From Within, we foster a dynamic network of public-minded leaders who know each other, trust each other, and are better able to work together to improve our communities. This investment better ensures that leaders can address some of society’s more persistent challenges.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.

I admire how Leading From Within, as a small, nimble nonprofit, has worked to be responsive to the needs of the sector, experimenting with new offerings, including pro bono coaching for emerging and executive leaders.
Elena Anderson
Executive Coach
& Consultant

Make an Investment in People

Donating to Leading From Within is a great way to leverage your investment in philanthropy. $2,500 pays for a transformative leadership development experience in a nonprofit leader’s career, and fosters the growth potential of the next up-and-coming leader in Santa Barbara County. 

Key Supporters

Santa Barbara Foundation
Angell Foundation
Schwartz Family Foundation
Manitou Fund
Mosher Foundation
Natalie Orfalea Foundation
and Lou Buglioli
Jo and Ken Saxon
Ann Jackson Family Foundation
James S. Bower Foundation
The Towbes Foundation
Maryan Schall
Linked Foundation
Mary and Jim Morouse
McCune Foundation
Ginger Salazar
and Brett Matthews
Jeff Bochsler
Chris Parker