Name/Title: Juliana González-Crussi, Executive Director
What is your organization and mission? Center for Changing Lives. CCL partners with participants to uncover possibilities, overcome barriers and realize their potential. Our work includes coaching on financial, employment and resource mobilization goals that enhance lives, training and skill enhancement opportunities, and advocacy and organizing on economic policy and practices that open opportunities and resources. Our vision is a community where everyone thrives.
How many years do you have in the nonprofit industry? 35+ years
Describe a time when as the leader of your nonprofit you had to overcome what seemed like an impossible challenge and how did you guide the organization through it?
Guiding our NPO through the pandemic – and growth – while navigating change management was a complicated process. I had to hold on to the perspective that there was a light at the end of the tunnel and assure myself that it was not a train coming at me! Navigating so many changes meant tapping into leadership within the CCL team. We are better and stronger for the shifts that we made and needed to make. The time of change allowed us time to think about infrastructure and update staffing patterns. We launched a new 5-year strategic plan in 2020 that is a blueprint to help us move forward, including our theory of change model to guide us on how to do the work. As the dust is settling, we are still in a season of growth: we opened a satellite office in South Chicago and launched two new lines of services (Small Business Coaching and Resource Development Coaching). I don’t feel that I did it alone but in partnership with staff, community members and our Board of Directors. It’s always a collective effort and the work our community needs cannot be done alone.
What is your biggest time burden, and how have you addressed it?
My biggest time burden is lack of enough time and being able to put boundaries on what needs to get done in one day. I want to continue to keep working because there is so much to do so I feel like I need to continue to work. I am working more on my own self-management and trying to be better at telling myself I can continue what needs to be done tomorrow. I want to make sure I don’t overextend myself and can continue the work for the long run.
What is your personal mantra?
My personal mantra is to lean into Toltec wisdom/principles which are rooted in indigenous (pre-Columbian) Mezo-American culture stemming from what we now call central Mexico. The four Toltec agreements: 1) be impeccable with my word; 2) don’t take anything personally; 3) don’t make assumptions; and 4) always try my best. I utilize these agreements for myself and for how I interact with others. They help me stay focused and honor the indigenous wisdom in my heritage.