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Cutting Through The Chaos feat. Lenita Dunlap
Episode 3515th December 2022 • Let's Take This Offline: The Podcast for Everyday Leaders • Kishshana Palmer
00:00:00 00:55:34

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In This Episode . . . 

This episode features the brilliant Lenita Dunlap, Principal at Not Just Fundraising, as she discusses what it means to cut through the chaos. Lenita tells us what led her to provide trauma-informed care, the world of nonprofits, and her mission to provide access to mental health and equitable education for marginalized communities.

Meet Lenita Dunlap:

Known as The Chaos Whisperer, Lenita loves working through crisis situations and helping individuals and organizations experience freedom. She has such a heart for the third sector and believes we can truly change the world with proper resources and support. Lenita’s an advocate for change and will help leaders achieve their goals.

For the past 20 years, Lenita has dedicated her life to service and advocacy for access to mental health and equitable education for marginalized communities through working in educational and nonprofit organizations that uplift and empower young people and their families. As a consultant and thought partner, she specializes in guiding teams through crisis situations and introducing their missions to various stakeholders. As a Community Development and Mental Health expert, Lenita combines research, policy, and expertise to empower, motivate, and rally teams through facilitation and leadership development.

Lenita’s commitment to mental health access was birthed from advocating for her family's mental health journey. She witnessed firsthand the difficulty in finding proper support, as well as the lack of affordability, diversity, and cultural competency needed to create safe psychological spaces for healing. Leveraging this experience led her to revamp a failing after-school program to a creative and innovative after-school program based on research centered around the effects of trauma on refugee children. Instead of focusing solely on academics, she introduced trauma-informed care to the refugee serving space within after-school work that later received international recognition and accolades. In this previous leadership role, Lenita grew the organization's annual budget by 300% within five years, led a rebranding campaign, expanded program reach, garnered international attention, and earned certification for all sites.

Lenita was a featured speaker at the 2019 Australia and New Zealand Refugee Trauma Recovery in Resettlement Conference in Brisbane, Australia, and the North American Refugee Health Conference in Toronto, Canada. Both platforms provided an opportunity to share her unique perspective. Her presentation highlights included addressing mental health during after-school programming, diving deeper into the effects of trauma on the brain in the context of refugees, and observing different models of implementation for various therapies. She has also co-led and facilitated presentations for the local and global chapters for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Within these platforms, she taught participants how to diversify their board and staff, pivot and twirl during challenging times, and shared with nonprofit leaders the need to SLOW DOWN, BREATHE AND CELEBRATE. 

Currently, VP of Operations at Abide Women’s Health and as a PhD student in Public Administration and Policy at the University of Texas at Arlington researching burnout, refugee resettlement, equity, and, leadership, Lenita understands the trials and triumphs of nonprofit leaders not only practically but theoretically. She holds two masters: one in Education and the other Public Administration. Lenita also earned certificates in nonprofit management and marketing from the Center for Nonprofit Management.

Episode Highlights:

  • (4:05) Cutting through the chaos; 
  • (12:59) What do you need as a leader; 
  • (17:52) What’s happening to our leadership pipeline?; 
  • (22:00) Healthy organizations;
  • (26:15) Chaos in organizations;
  • (44:15) How burnout is tied to equity;

Connect with Lenita:

Instagram: @lenitariley

LinkedIn: @lenitarileydunlap


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