Investing in Us: The Rising Leader Program

This year’s Rising Leader graduating class from Foellinger Foundation’s Leadership Lab sure has plenty to celebrate! Our time together was packed with all kinds of learning opportunities—textbook and experiential, food for thought and ‘aha’ moments, and plenty of growing pains that come with developmental opportunities.

Because of the Rising Leader Program, my colleagues and I stand taller, speak with newfound confidence and see the world through a brand new lens.

We owe our gratitude to Foellinger Foundation for providing us with this unique opportunity, and to Colin Maiorano for his tireless work in making sure we capitalize on every bit of it!

Anyone who has supported us throughout the last year surely noticed the Rising Leader Program’s impact on our lives. Maybe through our enthusiasm and new language, or the ideas and stories we shared with great excitement.

So what is the secret ingredient that makes this leadership program so unique?

Well, for the past two decades, I’ve served the Fort Wayne community in various leadership positions in the mental health industry. And today, I proudly serve as the Clinical Director at Amani Family Services, overseeing clinical operations of our agency (shout out to my amazing Amani team!).

In my personal life, I oversee my family’s daily operations, in partnership with my loving husband, Michael.

Professionally and personally, time and experience have taught me that leadership can sometimes be a lonely place.

As we progress through levels of leadership and responsibility, our go-to pool of people who we expect to do all of the knowing progressively shrinks, and the pool of people who expect us to do the knowing expands.

The higher the level of leadership, the greater the pressure to make sound decisions for our agencies within a small margin of error.

How do we find confidence in making these important decisions?

The Rising Leader Program is unique because its focus goes beyond leadership tools; it serves the person using the tools.

Thanks to the Rising Leader Program, I was given countless opportunities to develop a deep and intimate relationship with the leader in me, and I am thankful for it.

Constantly juggling work and family responsibilities, there would never be another time I could focus on myself so consistently. I developed a greater level of self understanding, which in turn gave me confidence in knowing when to follow my heart, gut, or head, or when to take a walk.

Thank you to Foellinger Foundation for investing in rising leaders in our community, and thank you to all of my peers for sharing this challenging and amazing journey with me and for allowing me to be witness to yours.


Ewelina Connolly

Clinical Director

Amani Family Services