After receiving her bachelor’s degree in child development, Alicia Johnson earned her master’s in nonprofit management and leadership from Walden University. She began her career as an in-school detention monitor and court-appointed advocate in litigation involving young people, but she realized she had a wider mission and the means to fulfill it.
“As a middle-school educator and director of a nonprofit, I strive to impact more children at schools and in the community by guiding and nurturing them to meet their needs and empower their successes, allowing them to become productive citizens.”
Saving Children at Risk Services (SCARS) is the nonprofit Alicia co-founded to provide support and assistance to local young people in her community. She demonstrated her servant-leadership skills by organizing holiday food/toy drives and other campaigns. Her commitment to those she serves is so impressive that the St. Charles Herald Guide recently profiled her in recognition of her ongoing work with at-risk children and students.
Communication Is Crucial to Servant Leadership
Getting an initiative like SCARS off the ground requires strong goal-setting skills, thorough planning, consistent attention, and a laser-sharp focus. It also requires excellent relationship-building skills, as Alicia knows.
“Co-founding and launching a nonprofit to support students and young people in my area was a complex undertaking. I have a bachelor's degree in child development and a master's in nonprofit management and leadership where I utilize my skills to help youth make positive decisions. But early on, I realized that I also needed to get to know and understand the people I wanted to serve. Building relationships with students was a crucial part of this undertaking.”
Part of building rapport and relationships with others includes the ability to communicate effectively. Good communication can help you persuade others to join your cause and help build a successful organization. Coupled with a commitment to teamwork and collaboration, strong communication skills help you achieve your overall goals.
“Leadership means working together to ensure others are led by commitment and motivated to get the job done as planned.”
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The NSLS Paves the Way to Achieving Goals
Accomplishing such a big service-oriented goal like launching a new nonprofit isn’t usually something anyone can accomplish without help. Alicia credits both prior mentors and the NSLS for providing her with the support she needed to get the job done.
“I look up to my previous mentors that helped pave the way to further my education and on-the-job training to get where I am today. I also credit the NSLS, which helped me put its benefits and key skills to use in getting the job done.”
Next up for Alicia is a deepening of her original mission. She plans to continue her work with young people through her organization and her employment with the area school district.
“My next goals are helping youth find a voice by supporting their needs to be successful. I’ll achieve this by educating them on the importance of staying focused and having a positive attitude throughout life.”
Alicia’s Advice for Future Leaders
For future leaders, especially those with big community service goals, Alicia recommends being dedicated to thoroughly understanding your stakeholders. That requires skills beyond merely good communication; it means that you need to be an expert listener as well.
“One piece of advice I received earlier in life that helped me accomplish my goals stressed the importance of active listening. It’s crucial to listen to youth and help every child in need because we – as educators – never know who will be left behind.”
Finally, Alicia observes that managing yourself is just as important as effectively managing others when you’re pursuing challenging, complex goals.
“Always be a go-getter and never let your dreams and aspirations fall behind. Go after what you want in life.”
Leading by serving others is an important part of the NSLS’ mission. Learn more about servant leadership and how to apply it in your daily life.