(by Ariana Friedlander, Shadowcliff Board Chair)
This past June, the board embarked on an ambitious task, find our next executive director. More specifically, we sought to find a leader that exhibited a long, pragmatic (and possibly far fetched) wish list of qualities and skills. Then hire them before the end of the 2018 season.
We diligently launched a national search and spread the word within the Shadowcliff family. The response was affirming. At Shadowcliff, good things happen when you dream big, set a plan in motion and work together on execution.
I am excited to introduce to you our next Executive Director, Kathy Baldwin. Kathy has spent most of her professional career in Kansas City. She worked for 11 years for Hallmark Cards, Inc. in a number of capacities starting as a financial auditor, moving on to a variety of management roles in product development, and finally as a director in the sales division, before leaving Hallmark to join the Kansas City Academy. Under Kathy’s leadership, the Kansas City Academy implemented many important initiatives, including a sustainable school lunch program. Kansas City Academy was one of the first secondary schools in the midwest to achieve Green School status. She is known as a compassionate leader and a creative thinker.
From Bob Mann, Shadowcliff Board of Directors
“I have known Kathy for several years but deepened my appreciation as I experienced her leadership and passion as Principal of Kansas City Academy. Kathy is not a stranger to Shadowcliff. She was an active participant in a regional Climate workshop we hosted for leaders in Greater Kansas City and later initiated two Shadowcliff workshops for her KC Academy students, faculty and Board members. Kathy is a gentle gracious person who is both willing and capable of making hard decisions lovingly. She already loves Shadowcliff and now has the opportunity to apply her skills and values as we share this special mountain sanctuary with a needful world.”
From Jay Liebenguth, Shadowcliff Marketing Adviser
“Kathy just makes people feel welcome. She has a soft gentle smile and demeanor that lets you know she cares and that each person is important…I think Kathy will be a great fit for Shadowcliff. She loved Shadowcliff on the Academy’s first trip there and I believe her mission orientation and Shadowcliff’s align. I see her spiritual side which is most often expressed in her commitment to mission and to each person, yet has an obvious depth that is very personal.” (Jay served on the Kansas City Academy Board of Directors during the time Kathy was Head of School.)
Kathy and I sat down to have a conversation together so you could get to know her. Please read on to learn more about Kathy!
When did you first come to Shadowcliff and what was your experience like?
My first trip to Shadowcliff was about 10 years ago. I visited as a part of a group experience focused on climate concerns in the greater Kansas City region. I joined the group representing secondary education.
I was immediately struck by the beauty of the place, but more importantly I could see that Shadowcliff offered something much broader and deeper than simply a place to house our group for the week. The culture of Shadowcliff added an immeasurably positive component to the group’s time together, something that I feel certain would not have happened anywhere else. It was difficult to put my finger on exactly why is was so incredible, but I knew it was intentional on the part of the program faculty and the Shadowcliff staff.
What past accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
On a personal level, although I certainly can’t take credit for them as my own accomplishments, I am very proud of my two sons. They are both in their early 20’s and are amazing people! I met by oldest at 14 months, and my youngest at almost 5 years old – both were adopted from India. I have loved participating in what they are becoming.
On a professional level, I am most proud of my work at a small middle & high school called Kansas City Academy. I worked there in many capacities over the course of almost 20 years. I had the privilege of working with an extraordinary faculty, and along with the students we learned and grew together. I am very proud of how we were able to create a school environment where the students felt empowered to express themselves without judgment, where they could discover their unique talents and gifts, and where they learned the importance of using those talents and gifts to make positive change in the world.
What about this opportunity to serve as ED of Shadowcliff excites you the most?
What excites me most about taking on this role is the opportunity to participate in offering experiences where people engage with what many call the “magic” of Shadowcliff. The “magic” in my view, results from the combination of the place itself and the culture that has been carefully embodied there since its birth many decades ago. Being nestled in the Rocky Mountains serves up such a strong base — the extreme beauty of the place is truly breathtaking. Of course, there are many beautiful places in the Rockies. What makes Shadowcliff stand out is its unique ability to offer more — not more distractions or activity — but more of what most of us don’t get enough of in our daily lives — renewal, re-invigoration, restoration. It’s a place to pause, to breathe, to open to new ideas, to connect. It’s a place that offers us a way to re-enter our busy lives more openly, and with more clarity and intention. Once at Shadowcliff, people can more fully engage in life’s challenges and joys, and many return to Shadowcliff again and again.
What are your interests & influences outside of your work for Shadowcliff?
I love to be outside. I appreciate being in the natural world’s classroom. I find it instructive and very welcoming.
I am committed to the daily practices of my own spiritual walk, including reading, meditation, movement, and writing. I enjoy the profound silence of the meetings I attend at the Quaker Meetinghouse where I have found wonderful community and where I also reside, and care for the building and gardens.
I am a co-member of the Loretto Community where I participate on several committees focused on a variety of social justice concerns, including working with models of effective leadership, and working with the Loretto Community’s NGO activity at the United Nations.
Finally, I practice speaking, reading, and writing French on a daily basis, just for the love of such a beautiful language and for how it makes my soul sing.
Where do you call home?
I only recently moved to northern New Mexico, but it is quickly beginning to feel like home. I have also lived in Montana (where I was born), Kansas, Missouri, Texas, and Quebec, Canada. The place I have resided the longest, almost 4 decades, was in Kansas City.
Kathy would love to hear from you! She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.