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7 Questions on Leadership with Hayley Holzhacker

Name: Hayley Holzhacker

Title: Executive Director & Graduate Advisor

Organisation: Impact Horse - Connecting Humans and Horses (Nonprofit) and Unity Environmental University (Graduate Advisor)

Passionate Professional | Customer Relations | Marketing/Communications | Nonprofit Leader | Community Engagement Specialist | Graduate Advisor

📚♻️📝✅ With over 6+ years of experience in customer relations, marketing, communications, and nonprofit leadership, I'm on a mission to create a positive impact in our community.

I currently work as a Graduate Advisor for Unity Environmental University in Distance Education. As a Graduate Advisor, my role includes inspiring students and ensuring academic success from the origination of their program to graduation. I provide comprehensive and individualized academic support, including but not limited to registration, choosing classes, meeting program objectives, financial aid, billing, mentorship, outreach, and more) for non-traditional students and adult learners. As a lifelong learner, I take pride in helping students achieve their academic and career goals.

I am the Founder and Executive Director of Impact Horse-Connecting Humans and Horses, a local 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Impact Horse connects humans and horses through community wellness programs and equine-assisted learning opportunities. I established this initiative in 2020, drawing on my capstone project and corresponding 46 p. research paper for Johns Hopkins University. My dedication to animal care advocacy, event planning, promoting equine-assisted learning opportunities, and social media advertising supports our mission and vision at Impact Horse. Check out our website to learn more about what we do and the programs we offer.

🎓 In 2022, I earned my M.A. in Non-governmental organization (Nonprofit management) from Johns Hopkins University, further enhancing my expertise in nonprofit leadership.

🐴 As a lifelong learner, avid networker, and community outreach professional, I'm committed to making a difference. I'm also a proud horse owner and animal enthusiast, combining my passions with my professional pursuits. Let's connect and explore opportunities to collaborate for a brighter, more impactful future.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Hayley's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The most challenging part of being a leader is developing a diverse team and implementing change. Being able to differentiate between a professional that enjoys their role and is passionate about what they do and a professional that may desire additional support figuring out their talents and guiding them on their career path is key to successfully leading others. Compassionate leadership can be implemented by practicing active listening and having effective communication strategies in place.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

At the age of twelve, I established my own small business, known as the Pony Party Bus, "Little Hooves, Big Hearts" with my two miniature horses offering them to birthday parties and special events. I have always had horses in my life. My mom is an avid equestrian and animal lover as well. I am thrilled to continue my passion with the development of a Southern Maine based nonprofit, Impact Horse - Connecting Humans and Horses. Our dedicated team members serving on the Board of Directors include experts from various industries: the nonprofit world, executive leadership, healthcare/nursing, education, and equine professionals.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

My routine starts with a positive affirmation and a little bit of caffeine. I typically start the day with some yoga stretches and stay hydrated by drinking a tall glass of water. Staying focused on the daily agenda and knowing the tasks I need to accomplish for the day is critical to my success. I thrive with an agenda and utilize various organizational strategies. I enjoy checking off my to-do list. I often remind myself that giving myself grace that I share with others is acceptable and necessary. I do this by practicing self-care and conducting self-reflections. After my daily work has been completed, I give myself time to enjoy quality time with my horses, exercise my dog, and properly decompress after work. I go to bed early and wake up early. Having a healthy sleep routine and a consistent sleep schedule is tremendously important for me to be well rested and ready to accomplish tomorrow's goals.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

A leadership lesson I have been most recently reminded of is remembering to give myself the same patience and grace that I so freely share with others. Leadership starts from within. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Give yourself permission to practice self-care by doing activities you enjoy, and persevering through stressful days.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Double Bottom Line: How Compassionate Leaders Captivate Hearts and Deliver Results by: Donato Tramuto. This book was exceptional and shared tremendous insight into compassionate leadership. This leadership style builds trust, inspires innovation, raises morale, and improves overall performance. Donato Tramuto emphasized how compassionate leadership creates a "sustainable commitment to an organization’s mission and values." I highly recommend this book as it opened my eyes to view leadership from a different lens.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

I encourage young leaders to find and maintain connections by actively and purposely networking. You never know who they know and what you can learn from them will support your professional growth. Remember: We all have to start somewhere! Remind yourself of this when you are struggling with a stressful day, a challenging assignment, or dealing with a setback.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

I believe that leaders must stay updated on the current leadership trends and challenges. Consistently checking in with your team and listening to their feedback is essential. I believe seeing more leadership summits and panels that cover topics relevant to supporting diverse teams, effectively and efficiently disseminating information, and advocating for continued professional development for established leaders would be beneficial. There is always a new topic to learn. Additionally, having an open mind in leadership roles will support the design and implementation of innovative and revised initiatives from aspiring leaders within an organization. Let's continue making strides and achieving our goals.

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