Leading with Presence: Behind the Scenes of the 2018 Social Innovator Accelerator

Reflections on storytelling and leadership training
  • By Regina Snowden, Partners for Youth with Disabilities
  • Published on March 06, 2018
Regina and Olivia
Regina Snowden, Founder & Executive Director, Partners for Youth with Disabilities poses with Olivia, a PYD participant , PYD (used with permission)

Ariel has been an in-kind partner to the Social Innovation Forum for more than a decade, and Ariel's Leading with Presence training has become a core part of SIF's Nonprofit Accelerator. Even seasoned leaders and experienced public speakers have found the session a useful addition to their leadership toolkits. In this guest blog post, Regina Snowden, Founder & Executive Director of 2018 Social Innovator organization Partners for Youth with Disabilities, reflects on the experience she had with her cohort at their one-day session with Ariel.

As one of the eight new Social Innovators in the 2018 cohort, in mid-February, I had the opportunity to attend a one-day training session called Leading with Presence with Ariel. The stated goal was to learn the art of "storytelling" as one part of our 24-month capacity building/leadership training experience. I was a bit concerned about what was ahead, as I’ve been a long-time leader, and had been practicing those skills for many years. Little did I know that what was ahead for me and the group of Social Innovators was such a tremendous opportunity of growth and learning. As the day unfolded, there was so much learning and growth available to all of us.

I discovered areas of myself that are strong, as well as ones that need growth.

Just a bit about the Ariel session. It was a MOST extraordinary day, truly like none I have ever experienced before, in that the process was really about helping me, a nonprofit professional, to delve deep, reach high, and grow. Through the course of role playing, storytelling the river of my life, listening and giving feedback to my peers, and reflecting on others’ experiences, I discovered areas of myself that are strong, as well as ones that need growth. Some of this knowledge was already known to me, but to have the chance to do this learning that was honest and deep alongside several of the other Social Innovators, and utilize the skills and support of the group was really an extraordinary, empowering, and enlightening experience. 

What was especially a gift in the process was that the eight of us – all leaders on different social issues, all with different backgrounds and stories – were able to collectively realize and elevate our commonalities, our differences, and become strengthened as leaders, by sharing our paths, our service, and our desire to continually reach higher and grow.  

I can't begin to thank the Ariel group enough for putting this opportunity in front of me, and allowing me to continue to evolve as a leader.