initiatives leaders1Every day, staff of the Oishei Foundation meet and work with leaders from every sector of the non-profit world. “These are impressive people of conviction and passion,” says Karen Lee Spaulding, VP of Philanthropic Support, “who find creative ways to keep their work moving forward despite obstacles.”

To encourage collaboration and idea-sharing among young area leaders, the Oishei Leaders Program began several years ago. It now comprises six cohorts, with approximately 120 individuals who work in leadership positions across sectors. They come together in casual gatherings and yearly retreats as part of the Foundation’s focus on improving the quality of life in our area.

“These are impressive people of conviction and passion, who find creative ways to keep their work moving forward despite obstacles.”

In June 2015, 20 Oishei Leaders met for their annual retreat at Beaver Hollow and worked with an artists’ collaborative called Tape Art. Divided into three groups, each received a prompt for discussing their personal story or experience. Then they chose a narrative to depict, using a variety of green and blue painter’s tape. Each narrative had to include at least two life-sized people. A representative of each group was asked to talk about their completed narrative.


  • Leaders who are articulate, passionate, eloquent, full of insight, creativity and unfazed by barriers and obstacles
  • Lots of tree imagery, with strong roots firmy planted and lush foliage giving shelter and shadeinitiatives leaders2
  • A common vocabulary and a depth of sensitivity and generosity in framing scenarios
  • A public art initiative that turned into a public humanities dialogue

The resulting creations represented the not-for-profit journey, the challenges and rewards of NFP leadership, and what to call those who are served. For Tape Art founder, Michael Townsend, the exercise was a turning point in how to expand his thinking about community leadership and civic engagement.

“Pictures really do tell a thousand words,” says Karen. “The depth of passion and commitment of each of these non-profit leaders was so evident in their artwork. Our hope is that the Oishei Leaders experience will always be characterized by generous mentoring, creative collaboration, and expansive and enriching dialogue.”