Abby Drane faced a challenging transition when she became president and CEO of Uspiritus last September.
Before joining the Louisville, Kentucky-based nonprofit that serves at-risk children, Drane spent more than 25 years as an executive leader and financial officer for several large health care corporations.
“I was chief financial officer for multimillion-dollar companies, and now I’m president of a nonprofit that serves children,” she says. “In this new environment, the mission and vision become the most important thing.”
Drane says CHHSM’s Nollau Institute is the perfect opportunity to integrate her business knowledge with Uspiritus’ faith-based mission.
Through retreats, site visits and online dialogue, the Nollau Institute draws upon the best in adult education and leadership training, grounded in a fundamental appreciation of faith heritage and spiritual formation, to help participants explore their vocation as leaders.
Created in 2011 and open to leaders from CHHSM ministries and partner organizations, the yearlong leadership institute is named after Louis Edward Nollau, a 19th-century missionary and preacher, and founder of several CHHSM ministries.
The 2015-2016 class bonded quickly during discussions about the UCC’s heritage and Diakonal service at the institute’s first retreat in April, says the Rev. Danielle Bartz, CHHSM program associate and Nollau Institute faculty member.
“Everyone opened up very quickly about the struggles and opportunities they faced as leaders,” she says.
That enthusiasm will guide them as they prepare for the second retreat in September and begin planning small group leadership projects which they’ll present at the 78th CHHSM Annual Meeting next March, she says.
Although Nollau participant Jerry Bennett doesn’t work for a CHHSM ministry, he’s excited to develop his leadership skills and strengthen connections between CHHSM and the UCC.
“I love spending time with CHHSM team members because they are true servant leaders,” says Bennett, associate conference minister for programming at the Illinois South Conference of the UCC. “I work closely with CHHSM agencies, and I understand the importance of keeping communication open and sharing your story.”
Drane also appreciates the bonds she’s formed with other leaders through the program. Although she has attended several leadership conferences in the past, Nollau’s focus on the intersection between faith and leadership is unique, she says.
“I joined Uspiritus to improve life for children, and Nollau is helping to shape me as a leader,” she says. “When I improve as a leader, I’ll be able to help more people. That’s what Nollau is all about.”