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7 Questions with Shivonne C. McKay
7 Questions with Shivonne C. McKay
Name: Shivonne C. McKay
Current title: Executive Director
Current organisation: CHIPS, Inc.
Shivonne completed her undergraduate studies at Pennsylvania State University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She holds an MBA from American Intercontinental University, a Master of Education Administration degree from Adelphi University, and a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.
She has dedicated her life to confronting systems of inequity for marginalized populations through a faith and social justice lens. Most recently, Shivonne spent four years as the founding Executive Director of the Jeremiah Program’s Brooklyn campus, working alongside a dedicated team to provide affordable housing, life skills training, and college access to women and quality early childhood education to their children. Currently, Shivonne is the Executive Director of CHIPS, Inc. a soup kitchen and women's shelter in the neighborhood of Park Slope, located in Brooklyn, NY. Shivonne resides in Long Island, New York.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
Assisting employees with shifting from fixed, traditional attitudes and views to that of growth and adaptability. It is important for everyone to see their contribution as affecting the entire ecosystem of the organization.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Throughout my entire career, I've chosen to give of my talents and gifts to smaller or medium-sized organizations because although the experiences seem smaller, the impact always extends beyond the communities served.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Balance is key. In this evolving world of work, it is important to begin my day with prayer and meditation, to a workout, eating a light breakfast, and spending the first hour delving into email responses. Following this, I am in meetings either with staff or external stakeholders. I typically like to end the day by writing reports and or meeting with the executive committee, of the board of trustees when necessary, etc.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
If I as the lead servant continue to model balance, express compassion, and nurture the humanity of the employees, eventually buy-in to any large vision will be obtained.
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 book that has had an impact on my leadership is 'Know Your Why by Simon Sinek. The book conveys the importance of one understanding the intrinsic factors that connects them to a mission and purpose and to always be in lockstep with that. This book highlights the importance of the effect of being disconnected from the originator of your draw to the mission, place, job, etc. If one is always connected to their 'why' which should be bigger than themselves, one will always experience success, even when the tasks ahead are challenging.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
It is important to offer training and professional development to existing team members. Additionally, it is highly important to streamline roles and processes so that jobs are done efficiently. Lastly, by creating opportunities for leadership within the organization, employees are more apt to exercise efficiency and job satisfaction.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
Upon the first month of entering into a new organization, I made it a point to solicit assistance from a few of the board of trustees to conduct an employee appreciation day within the organization. The employees had a tumultuous year by the time I entered with numerous leadership transitions and role shifts. Many of the employees were overcome with fear and anxiety about what lays ahead. However, this day of celebration gave each of them an opportunity to be recognized for the significant contribution each has made throughout their tenure. When people feel appreciated and seen, they will typically do more and give more. It is important to recognize that as a leader of any size organization, that we employ 'human beings' not 'human doings.'