The Path To Leadership

Igniting Joy Through Leadership: Ashlyn's Journey with Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas

April 01, 2024 Catalyst Development Season 1 Episode 28
Igniting Joy Through Leadership: Ashlyn's Journey with Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas
The Path To Leadership
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The Path To Leadership
Igniting Joy Through Leadership: Ashlyn's Journey with Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas
Apr 01, 2024 Season 1 Episode 28
Catalyst Development

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When Ashlyn traded the Rocky Mountains of Denver for the rolling plains of Kansas City, little did she know she would become a cornerstone of hope for countless children. Our latest episode features this remarkable changemaker, whose venture into the altruistic world of Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas is nothing short of inspiring. Step into the life of a woman whose high school service projects blossomed into a full-fledged mission to bring joy to those in need, and find out how her friend's transformational experience as a wish recipient has driven her to new heights of compassion and dedication.

With her at the helm of fundraising efforts, Ashlyn's narrative weaves through the intimate tales of children whose lives are touched by the magic wand of generosity. Whether you're moved by the local triumphs of the Wish Society or intrigued by the chance to swing for a cause at the Bell Reeves Country Club, this conversation promises to stir the philanthropist in you. Leadership isn't just a title; it's an action, and Ashlyn embodies this through her hands-on approach, nurturing the resilience and growth of her team. Tune in to discover how the interplay of leadership, community, and sports fervor come together for a cause that goes beyond wishes—into the realm of true impact.

Connect with Ashlyn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashlyntalamor/
Make-A-Wish Missouri and Kansas:  https://wish.org/mokan

Follow Catalyst Development on LinkedIn @catalystdevelopment, @drkatieervin, @jennascott, @emmablankenship

www.cdleaders.com

Theme music by Emma Jo https://emmajo.rocks/

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

When Ashlyn traded the Rocky Mountains of Denver for the rolling plains of Kansas City, little did she know she would become a cornerstone of hope for countless children. Our latest episode features this remarkable changemaker, whose venture into the altruistic world of Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas is nothing short of inspiring. Step into the life of a woman whose high school service projects blossomed into a full-fledged mission to bring joy to those in need, and find out how her friend's transformational experience as a wish recipient has driven her to new heights of compassion and dedication.

With her at the helm of fundraising efforts, Ashlyn's narrative weaves through the intimate tales of children whose lives are touched by the magic wand of generosity. Whether you're moved by the local triumphs of the Wish Society or intrigued by the chance to swing for a cause at the Bell Reeves Country Club, this conversation promises to stir the philanthropist in you. Leadership isn't just a title; it's an action, and Ashlyn embodies this through her hands-on approach, nurturing the resilience and growth of her team. Tune in to discover how the interplay of leadership, community, and sports fervor come together for a cause that goes beyond wishes—into the realm of true impact.

Connect with Ashlyn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashlyntalamor/
Make-A-Wish Missouri and Kansas:  https://wish.org/mokan

Follow Catalyst Development on LinkedIn @catalystdevelopment, @drkatieervin, @jennascott, @emmablankenship

www.cdleaders.com

Theme music by Emma Jo https://emmajo.rocks/

Dr. Katie:

Hi everyone, welcome back to the Path to Leadership. I'm really excited for this conversation today. As many of you know, I have a heart and passion for nonprofits and I met this person at a neighborhood networking event for the Greater Casey Chamber and we immediately hit it off. So I'm really excited to introduce you all to the guest today. Hey, ashlyn, how are you? I'm doing well, how are you? I am good. Good I always tell people, and full disclosure. We're recording this a couple of weeks before it comes out and it's beautiful and sunshiny and lovely in Kansas City today.

Dr. Katie:

Yes it is so well. I am excited to introduce everybody to you and the work you do. So can you tell everyone a little bit about who you are, what you do, what your story is?

Ashlyn Talamor:

Absolutely. I am Ashlyn. I am originally born and raised from Denver, colorado. I moved out to Kansas City in 2019, right before COVID hit, so it was a super fun time to move Throughout my career.

Ashlyn Talamor:

I've always been in nonprofits. I have had a heart for nonprofits and it's just been ingrained into my everyday life. I can't seem to stay away from nonprofits. So my career started in the Catholic nonprofit sector in Denver. I worked for the archdiocese there as a donor relations professional and then it just kind of moved and grew from there and now I'm at Make-A-Wish Missouri in Kansas, the local chapter of Make-A-Wish.

Ashlyn Talamor:

I have been with Make-A-Wish since August of 2023. So still fairly new but super excited to be here, and I always tell people it's really interesting that I work for Make-A-Wish now because in high school one of my friends was diagnosed with a critical illness and received a wish from the Denver chapter and it always stuck with me just as such a transformational point in his life, but also in my life as one of his closest friends. Just to see him walking through a dark time in his life and then to be granted his wish just brought out so much joy to the broader community and so it always stuck with me, so it's really exciting that I'm here with Make-A-Wish now, and it was just something that stuck with me.

Dr. Katie:

Oh, I love that the path brought you back to this, and it's funny because when I met you, I was like, oh my gosh, you've got to know Jenna Scott on my team, because she talks about when she was an intern with the Kansas City Chiefs and her favorite memories is the Make a wish kids that they got to host and the impact that that makes, and I think it's just so cool what you do. So I'm I'm excited to shine a light on the work that that you all do. Absolutely. So, before I go all the way into this, I did not. You may have told me that you're from Denver, but does that mean you're a Broncos fan?

Dr. Katie:

Absolutely not Okay, then we can keep this conversation going.

Ashlyn Talamor:

I've never liked football until I got to Kansas city and started watching the chiefs. I was like, okay, this is actually really fun to watch. So I'm a chiefs fan through and through.

Dr. Katie:

Okay, then we can keep it going, perfect. Well, I grew up a cheese fan and then we moved to Indianapolis and I was a Colts fan because I loved Peyton Manning. And then when he went to the Broncos I was like, oh, I don't even know what to do here, because I love Peyton but I hate the Broncos and I just it was just a real hard time in my life when he did that and I wish that. I wish he didn't have that time there.

Ashlyn Talamor:

I understand.

Dr. Katie:

Well, so you talked a little bit about the beginning of your journey, so can you tell us a little bit about go a little deeper in your career journey? Like, did you know, how did you know you wanted to do nonprofit Is this? How'd you get here?

Ashlyn Talamor:

So I went to a Catholic all girls high school that is, jesuit, and so throughout my time in high school we had to do week long two week long service projects, and a lot of times those service projects were outside of the school, they were at local nonprofits around Denver, and that experience really transformed my life.

Ashlyn Talamor:

I, after high school, I could never see myself working in a corporate job, just because I need to connect to the mission in a deeper way. I want to transform the community in which I live and play, and so that just having that experience in high school really just formed the rest of my worldview and wanting to give back to my community as my career. So after I graduated high school I obviously went to college at Benedictine College in Atchison, kansas, and again, throughout my time in college I found myself always volunteering for various service projects, and so when I got out of college and I graduated, I just knew that I had to do something that I was passionate about, and I don't think I would be passionate about selling the next IT product or anything like that. I knew I would be passionate about serving people, and so that's kind of how I got started with my nonprofit career. So, yes, I would say it's always just been something that stuck with me. I knew I wouldn't want to work anywhere else.

Dr. Katie:

Yeah, that is so fantastic and, knowing Benedictine College and you know the heart that is Benedictine, I mean it's just such an amazing campus and community and heart of what they do. I know a lot of alumni from there and it feels like that was a really great spot for you to go.

Ashlyn Talamor:

Absolutely. It was an amazing experience and it's something that I look back on as just it formed me into the individual that I am today.

Dr. Katie:

Yeah, that is so cool. So we've all heard of Make-A-Wish and we've seen, you know the, the Make-A-Wish kids, but it's so much bigger than that. So can you talk about really all the work that that you do and the organization does, and and even the makeup of it? I wasn't when you were explaining it to me. I was not familiar with even the makeup of Make-A-Wish.

Ashlyn Talamor:

Absolutely so. Make-a-wish Missouri and Kansas. We are the local chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation. So, while you have probably heard tremendous transformational stories from Make-A-Wish America, that is the national office of Make-A-Wish, and then each region of the country operates more locally and so each region has its own chapter. So Make-A-Wish Missouri and Kansas serves, obviously, missouri and Kansas. We go all the way as far as St Louis and beyond to Wichita and beyond, so we're serving both and all counties in Kansas and Missouri.

Ashlyn Talamor:

We have over 680 kids right now in our wish pipeline and we're only six months into our fiscal year and we know that that number is sadly not going to decrease, it's only increasing and half of those kids reside in the Kansas City, kansas side of the region, and so I am mostly specifically working in the Kansas City, kansas side of the region, and so I am mostly specifically working in the Kansas City and Kansas side of the region.

Ashlyn Talamor:

And then we have another team that works the St Louis side of the house. So, with that being said, we have a lot of kids that are battling critical illnesses Right now. Today there's a family getting the devastating news that their child is battling a critical illness, and our goal and our mission is together we can grant life-changing wishes, and we want to, and our vision is to grant the wish of every eligible child. We know that in any given year, between 600 and 700 kids in the Kansas and Missouri region will be diagnosed with a critical illness, and so our goal is to reach all of those kids that will be diagnosed and grant their one true wish. So we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Dr. Katie:

Yeah, that's heavy.

Ashlyn Talamor:

Yes, we have an amazing wish specialist team. They're really the ones working with the wish families to design, plan and, you know, grant those wishes. And then we also have the fundraising side of the team, which is my team. So we're fundraising a lot of money to hopefully get these wishes granted. The average cost of a wish is $10,000, because we don't want a family to have to worry about any expense. They're already having to worry about their child. We don't want them to have to worry about anything else. So the average cost of a wish is $10,000.

Ashlyn Talamor:

And we get a variety of wishes. We have I wish to go, so those are travel wishes. We have I wish to meet, so those are a lot of like the celebrity Patrick Mahomes type wishes. And we also have I wish to give, so those are kids who have actually chosen to give back to their own community. So, for example, we've had wishes where kids wish to give their high school basketball teams new uniforms, something like that, and so they're giving back to their community. We also have I wish to have, so that is something tangible. Like I wish to have a play set, I wish to have a she shed, I wish to have a bedroom redo. We also have kids that wish for shopping sprees, and so it's really creative. We get some really unique wishes and our main goal is to to grant these wishes, to provide the most precious gifts of strength, hope and joy to our wish kids and their families, and it impacts the entire community when we can all come together and just make a difference in these children's lives.

Ashlyn Talamor:

We know that when a child is granted a wish, it's really an extension of their medical treatment. Doctors 99% of doctors will say that it relieves the child and their parents of the traumatic stress that comes with battling a critical illness. We also know that when a child has a wish to look forward to, when they find out that their wish will be granted and they're getting excited about maybe their trip to Disneyland or whatever it might be, they're more compliant with their medical treatment. And so we're seeing that, because the traumatic stress is relieved, they have some hope to look forward to. That's beyond the hospital walls, beyond their treatments. They're able to either recover or just be more compliant with their medical treatments. And so it really does transform their entire lives from the from the moment that they find out that their wish is going to be granted.

Dr. Katie:

I would imagine, and I would imagine too, um, cause I would think you know some people from the outside would be like $10,000. I mean, even for a Disney trip, which Disney is shout out, mickey, he's very proud of his, his product. But, um, I mean it's bigger than just a trip to Disney. I mean it takes, especially for some of these kids, it takes medical care on the trip. It's not like you and I like jump on a you know flight and fly into Orlando and get a, get an Uber and go. I mean it's, it is a ordeal, and so for you all to be able to take that stress off the families is really impactful as well even think it was possible to ever leave their homes or the hospital because of whatever medical equipment is required for their child.

Ashlyn Talamor:

It's a lot to travel with, it's a lot to have to worry about, and so they never even imagined that they would be able to go on a trip with their family and make those precious memories, and so we do not want them to worry about those details. We take care of those details and do what we can to make it possible.

Dr. Katie:

Yeah, yeah, that's powerful, well, and so you were sharing with me. You all have a program called the Wish Society, and so can you talk a little bit about what that is and how people can get involved with them?

Ashlyn Talamor:

Absolutely so. Our Wish Society is a volunteer fundraising program, kind of like a team fundraising or a friend raiser, that a lot of different organizations do. It used to be called Women of Wish, but we found the need for influential men and women to come together and transform the community, and so this is the first year that we have opened it up to both men and women and we try to seek and have 15 to 20 volunteers every year between April through May to fundraise, tap into their networks, to fundraise $10,000 and grant one wish through their networks of support. This is so that one we're expanding our mission in the Kansas City community. We are showing people that we are local and it expands that network of support and gets more people engaged with our mission and to hear our story. Most people that you talk to probably don't realize that we do operate on a local level. I think a lot of people hear the Make-A-Wish brand, the Make-A-Wish name, and they think that we're the national organization and while we are tied to the national organization, we are responsible for fundraising all the dollars that we need to grant all the wishes here in Kansas City and Kansas and Missouri, and so that is really what the Wish Society does. They are leaders and influential individuals in our community that care about their community on the local level and they come together to raise $10,000 each and that can transform.

Ashlyn Talamor:

You know, we say we want 16 volunteers to do this transform 16 kids' lives. There are 16, over 16 kids just in Overland Park, kansas. This group can fundraise the amount to grant all of those wishes, and so it. The reason why we do it in April is because April is our world wish month, which we commemorate the first wish ever granted in 1983. And we use April as a way to really push our story that, hey, we are local. We need wish makers, we need people to help us grant every eligible wish. Our goal is to grant 420 wishes Last year we granted over 430, fundraise and tell people about our mission, and it helps us tap into networks that we may not even have thought to tap into. People get really creative with the way that they fundraise. We we had a stay at home mom last year who just did a lemonade stand with her kids and so she brought her kids into the mission as well. And so it's touching young people and older people. It's touching all age groups to get involved.

Dr. Katie:

That is so cool. Well, and this is coming out April 2nd, so everyone, you'll be kicked off and ready to go and I'll make sure to put in the show notes. You know all the information, but you know my challenge to everybody. I'm a mother. I can't imagine ever being in this scenario that these families are in, and whether you're a parent, whether you're an aunt and uncle or just a neighbor or just a community member that just loves kids, I mean, obviously you know $1,000 donation is lovely, but every little bit a $25 donation helps in the campaign. So myself personally and Catalyst will be making a donation and I challenge everybody else to do it as well.

Ashlyn Talamor:

And if you, it's not too late to sign up. Even though this is coming out on April 2nd, it's not too late to say, hey, I wanna be part of the Wish Society. So you can just contact me. My contact information will be in the show notes. They can reach out and we can get you started with your fundraising page that day. It's a virtual fundraising page and so it's super simple to use social media. You can text it out to people. People can text to give through that link as well, so there is so much flexibility to make it easy. We provide all of the resources for our volunteers to be successful in this fundraising. So even if you think, oh, it's too late to join, no, it's not, we want people to be part of it. So email me, call me, we'll get you set up, even if it's the second third day of April.

Dr. Katie:

Oh, that is perfect, perfect. Well, and we were talking before we jumped on. So not only do you have the Wish Society work, but you guys have a lot of other stuff going on, so can you share a little bit of that as well?

Ashlyn Talamor:

So, like I said, april is our world wish month, so all month long we work with community partners to do dine, to donate, give backs. I'm working on a project with painting with a twist in Overland Park, so they will be doing some give backs for us as well. We also have our Walk for Wishes that takes place in St Louis on April 13th, and so that's a team raising opportunity on the St Louis side. We also in May we have our golf tournament coming up, which is on May 19th through the 20th, so the night before there's kind of a cocktail party and then the next day people can go play golf. We do have some limited space still available for the golf tournament. That takes place at the Bell Reeves Country Club, which is a world renowned. We're the only nonprofit that has been approved to have a golf tournament there, so it's it's kind of like a once in a lifetime opportunity to check out Belle Reves as well.

Ashlyn Talamor:

Yeah, so that's May 19th through the 20th, and then after May we have our Summer of Wishes campaign, and so if you're driving around Kansas City, you might see our billboards. Right now there's a billboard up about volunteering, but during Summer of Wishes you might see some information about making a donation, but if you're interested in making a donation even before our summer of wishes campaign, reach out to me. We can talk, we can. I can share the different types of wishes that we have, and you can participate through affinity giving. If you're really passionate about a specific sport or hobby, or maybe you're in you're passionate about a specific type of illness or disease, we can do some affinity giving as well, and so we're always looking for people to join our cause any time of the year. But those are the next three big campaigns that are coming up.

Dr. Katie:

I love that and I am just checking my calendar for May 19th to see if I can go over to St Louis and play in the golf tournament. I know I have a lot of people that listen, that are in driving pursuits or that other golfers oh, look at that, I am free.

Ashlyn Talamor:

So I will email you the information right after this recording.

Dr. Katie:

Let's figure that out. I like to show up to golf tournaments with all women's teams because there's just not enough women on the golf course, and so, um, yeah, I would love to, um connect with some people and and either take them to St Louis or be in St Louis, um and selfishly just to play, play the golf course, yeah it's a cool golf course, so yeah, yeah, I love it.

Dr. Katie:

I love it. Well, so, and what I love about the work you do, and when we first met, we first met, like I mentioned, at the Neighborhood Networking at the Mavericks, which was a really fun neighborhood networking. But we very quickly started talking about leadership and leadership especially in nonprofits. And you and I both have a heart for this, because you all do so much, all nonprofits do so much, with so little staff, so little budget. We all assume, especially when you're connected to a national, like, oh, you just must have money just rolling in everywhere and you must have, you must obviously have development programs and leadership and all of this stuff, and the people that really sit in the chairs and do the work know that's not the case. We're grinding every day. So can you talk a little bit about leadership in the nonprofit world and your thoughts on that?

Ashlyn Talamor:

Absolutely. I think it's. It's really dependent on the nonprofit. Leadership can make or break a nonprofit organization and I am thrilled to say that Make-A-Wish specifically has amazing leaders, truly amazing leaders. They are so passionate about the work that we do. They're out there visiting kids and learning, granting wishes as well, so they're, you know, in the nitty gritty every single day, and I think that's what's really important about nonprofit leadership. Leadership doesn't necessarily work well if they're just kind of hidden away in their office all day.

Ashlyn Talamor:

What I admire about specifically, the leadership at Make-A-Wish, missouri and Kansas, and leadership that I've had in past positions at past organizations they're out there doing the same work that I'm doing.

Ashlyn Talamor:

They're trying to fundraise, they're trying to find every eligible child and tap into those networks of doctors to refer the children.

Ashlyn Talamor:

They are in the work and I think that's what's super important about leaders in nonprofits and it's like you said a lot of times, it's because we don't have the manpower to do it all, and so leadership does step up and they're resilient and they say okay, I see a need, my staff needs me, and they're on the ground floor working right beside us. And that is what I love about nonprofit leadership and it's important, and I do think that leadership can make or break any organization. But what I admire most about nonprofit leadership is when they are right next beside their staff working and doing the nitty gritty work as well. Make-a-wish has done an amazing job of offering professional development so that staff can develop their own leadership skills. They really push us to grow in our skill set beyond just what our current roles need or require. So I love that Make-A-Wish is providing a space for us to grow in our own professional development and gain the skills that we want to gain, and grow in our own experience to be leaders in our own communities, yeah.

Dr. Katie:

Yeah, I think it's so important and I love when you shared that with me the investment that they make in your all's growth and and even in their own. I think that's so important and I think so often in nonprofits, people join nonprofits because they're passionate for the cause, which is fantastic, awesome. But then if they don't work on their leadership skills, if they don't develop themselves, if they don't take themselves to the next level, to your point, like there's a point where the organization is going to not have the success that it can, because leadership is the root of all of this. You've got to have strong leadership. Passion can only take you so far.

Ashlyn Talamor:

Absolutely, and I think what I've especially learned at Make-A-Wish is I struggle to speak up sometimes about my own roadblocks or maybe the resources that I need, but the difference that I've seen at Make-A-Wish is like leadership wants to know that stuff. They want to know what your roadblocks are and they want to help you work through those things so that you're more successful in my like, so that I'm more successful in my role. And I think that is something I have never really experienced in other positions until I got to Make-A-Wish, and I just so appreciate it because it's pushing me to just be a better individual, not just a better staff member, just a better individual overall.

Dr. Katie:

Yeah, yeah. And it's fun too when, especially for Catalyst, as I led off we have a heart for nonprofits, like we have a nonprofit rate. We are constantly donating seats to our Leaders Institute for nonprofits and I just on a recent podcast, had David from TalentSmart, brasovsky from TalentSmart, and he I met him at a Alzheimer's conference and he was teaching emotional intelligence to volunteers and I think people that don't understand the importance of leadership skills in nonprofits would be like why is there someone here talking about emotional intelligence? But when you know emotional intelligence, when you hear him talk, it's about how you support your staff, how you support your families, how you support your volunteers. It's so important to invest in these leadership skills.

Ashlyn Talamor:

So I agree, I agree yeah.

Dr. Katie:

I like it, I like it Well. So the final question that I ask everybody on every show, and the reason I asked this question is you know the path to leadership as you know it's. It's not always a straight path and sometimes it's. It's not that super shiny, perfect social media filtered um filter either. Um, so, to the level you're comfortable sharing, what's the biggest leadership or career misstep you've taken?

Ashlyn Talamor:

So I I learned this really recently. Okay, I learned that I am so much of a people pleaser that sometimes I don't speak up when I'm struggling with whatever it is. Maybe it's struggling with something in my own personal life, or struggling with maybe I don't feel like I have the resources at work to be successful. So in my past I would have never spoken up about anything. I would have just kind of pushed it to the side and then maybe eventually like leave that organization and just quit if it became too much.

Ashlyn Talamor:

What I've learned and what I'm trying to grow in is speaking up about my roadblocks, and so I think my biggest misstep was not speaking up and not being forthcoming about struggles. And it took my current manager really pushing me to kind of get some things out of me and forced me to be more honest and not be as people-pleasing and just say, hey, what do you need help with? And when she just had that honest, upfront conversation and asked me that question, I just said this is what I need and it was such a relief and now I feel like we're able to work together better, we're able to collaborate better. So definitely my biggest professional leadership misstep was just not speaking up, and I think that is a skill. I think a lot of times, especially as women, we're kind of told just to people, please and and keep the peace and be quiet and and don't confront people, don't criticize. But that actually hurts us more. It hurts us more when we don't speak up when we're struggling, and so that would definitely be my biggest misstep.

Dr. Katie:

I think so that would definitely be my biggest misstep. I think, yeah, oh, I'm like, oh, yeah, I, yes, I, I've been right there in my career and you're so right as women. But also, you know, in our career, we're afraid like that. We talk about imposter syndrome all the time. What, if what, are they going to think I can't do it? Like should I know how to do this? And it's like, no, it's okay, it's okay to ask for help, Exactly, exactly, so well, thank you so much for sharing your story and for being on.

Dr. Katie:

We will put all the information in the show notes so you guys can reach out to Ashlyn. Support the work that they are doing in Kansas and Missouri, whether it be St Louis or Kansas City or Wichita or every place in between. They could use your support. As I said, I will make sure that I am giving a donation and that I am supporting a Wish Society campaign, so I challenge everybody else to do it as well. And, yeah, just thank you for the work you're doing. We appreciate it. Thank you for having me on. Yeah, all right, everyone, we will talk to you next time on the path to leadership. Bye, everyone.

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