David Whyte at the Orfalea Foundation Downtown Center, May 14, 2014.

David Whyte at the Orfalea Foundation Downtown Center, May 14, 2014.

Poet and leadership consultant David Whyte visited Santa Barbara this week for a UCSB Arts & Lectures engagement. Before his evening appearance, Whyte addressed a group of local non-profit, foundation, and other social sector leaders at the Orfalea Foundation Downtown Center, in a program co-hosted by the Orfalea Foundation and Leading From Within, an organization devoted to leadership development and renewal for both professional and volunteer non-profit leaders.

Questions from the audience sparked many conversations about the intersection of vocation and avocation.

Questions from the audience sparked many conversations about the intersection of vocation and avocation.

Whyte offered insights from his work on “conversational leadership” and the idea that we must learn to navigate the frontier where one’s self – and its ongoing monologue – intersects with others, and multiple monologues must become dialog. Likewise, exploring the frontier allows us opportunity to find the place where vocation and avocation meet.

After Whyte's talk, attendees discussed the questions about themselves and their work that they have been afraid to ask.

After Whyte’s talk, attendees discussed the questions about themselves and their work that they have been afraid to ask.

The fifty attendees represented a broad cross-section of the local social sector, including Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation, Erik Talkin, CEO of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Fran Forman, Executive Director of the Community Action Commission, and documentary filmmaker Paul Lynch, of Cage Free Productions.

Many of the attendees are alumni of the Courage to Lead program, which offers skill and network building retreats for non-profit leaders. Whyte has carved out an impressive niche with his ability to integrate the act of discovery that is writing into the arts of management and leadership.

At right is Ken Saxon, founder and president of Leading From Within.

At right is Ken Saxon, founder and president of Leading From Within.

As Natalie Orfalea pointed out in her introduction of Whyte, “David understands well the role that language plays in helping us connect with others, and – just as importantly – ourselves. David Whyte has been bringing his unique blend of poetry, storytelling and insight into the world of corporate business for over twenty years now. His sessions have been woven into executive leadership programs with organizations such as Wharton School of Business, Stanford University, Microsoft, Mattel, The Gap and Boeing and he is an Associate Fellow with Templeton College, Oxford University.

Though his work speaks to organizations, it is an expression of compassion for the individuals who make up those organizations, and a desire to reintroduce these people to their authentic selves and deepest talents.”

Natalie Orfalea, thanking David Whyte for spending the afternoon leading us to the frontier.

Natalie Orfalea, thanking David Whyte for spending the afternoon leading us to the frontier.

 

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Along with our work in early childhood education, school food reform, and youth development, the Orfalea Foundation’s investments in education and learning also include university partnerships, generous scholarship awards, collective impact initiatives, and public enrichment opportunities. READ MORE

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