Seven Lessons to My Younger Self

By ABF Board Member LaCora Bradford Kesti

The Ann Bancroft Foundation welcomes LaCora Bradford Kesti as a new board member in 2023. Below, LaCora shares seven leadership lessons she has learned from nearly a decade of working in nonprofits.

1: Everyone leads at their own pace

Everyone leads at their own pace, time, sundial, whatever you want to call it. Just because you are a multi talented master of excel, IT, and making a robust cup of coffee doesn’t mean you have the best leadership style. I have learned to see people for who they are: not lazy or slow, but thoughtful and intentional; not disorganized and chaotic,
but creative and free-spirited.

2: Everyone can lead!

People are people with many talents, strengths, and abilities to lead. Good leadership isn’t traditional and stoic. Leadership consists of, in the words of Queen Beyonce, “Flaws and All.” Remember that! 

3: Influence is Key

Influence is a secret superhero power that I am trying to harness more and more every day. I am not talking about tricking people into doing stuff for you, I am talking about the real deal changing people’s hearts and minds, shifting narratives, and moving people to think about something bigger than themselves.

4: Nimbleness is Valuable 

This lesson pairs very well with being nimble. If you want a career that is predictable and consistent from day to day, then do not enter the nonprofit sector. The best thing about nonprofit work is that no day is the same day! There is always a new initiative, new funding idea, new program or new strategic plan. If change scares you, then I don’t advise going into nonprofit work. If you are flexible and can readily accept change, then nonprofits are for you. The nature of the work requires that you think on your toes, prepare for the worst and get things done. 

5: The Sky Isn’t Falling

When you find yourself in a work crisis, you need to bounce back. Be resilient! I’ve learned from my experiences that when a crisis occurs you need to analyze, take things in, take a few deep breaths and tackle the problem one item at a time.

6: Make lists!!!!

When you don’t take the time to really think about what is happening, you can easily slip into an unproductive work pattern running around with your head chopped off (sorry for the gross analogy), and not accomplish anything.  


We as people are human and we are not perfect. I know you have heard someone say that before. Well, it is true, and I will repeat it. We are human, and we are not perfect. Mistakes will happen, things will get dropped, and programming will suck. It is okay. It is okay because you owned that you made a mistake. I have made many mistakes, and
the one lesson that still rings true with every mistake is how you show up after it happens. Did you take responsibility and did you make it right?