SBM Articles


Time With The Boss - Wendy Sullivan, Easterseals Midwest

Wendy Sullivan
Easterseals Midwest

Industry: nonprofit organization
Education: Fontbonne University, special education and teaching
Family: I live in the Shaw neighborhood with my husband. We have six grown children and five grandchildren.

What is your mission?
Easterseals Midwest is a nonprofit organization changing the way the world defines and views disability by making profound, positive differences in people’s lives every day. The organization employs 1,700 employees delivering services to nearly 5,000 individuals statewide through four divisions: autism services, community living services, early childhood services and employment services.

What was your first job?
I was a teacher’s assistant for the Special School District of St. Louis County.

What was your worst job?
I’ve never had a bad or a worst job. What I consider the worst part of any job is staying behind a desk all day and not being able to move around to interact with your team members and clients. I’m too active to sit all day!

What led you to your industry?
My parents raised us to make a difference in our community. While in high school, I volunteered to work with children with developmental disabilities and immediately fell in love with it.

What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?

We created a leadership development program for our senior team leaders and have identified direct support team members who we can grow into future leaders for Easterseals.

Who is your industry role model?
My industry role models are my peers who manage other Easterseals organizations throughout the country.

How do you try to differentiate your business from others in your industry?
We take risks to introduce new services and programming for the communities we serve.

What’s the hottest trend in your industry, and are you going to jump on board?
The hottest trends for nonprofits are joint ventures, consolidation, mergers and collaboration. The business of managing any nonprofit is becoming more complex. We’ve tried each of these trends and have had positive, lasting results.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job is witnessing people with developmental disabilities not treated well. It’s heartbreaking.

What’s the best part?
The best part of my job is to see the difference we’ve made over the decades through our advocacy work in Jefferson City and the impact we’ve made for our clients, their families and caregivers in the communities we serve throughout Missouri.

What best advice would you share with new entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with a team of committed individuals who are smarter than you and care as much as you do. Also, you need to take risks. You will fail, and that is OK. If you aren’t failing, you probably are playing it too safe.

What’s your favorite place in St. Louis?
Tower Grove Park.

What book is on your nightstand?
“The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea” by Jack E. Davis

What do you like to do in your free time?
I love spending time with family. I also love to hike, visit parks, run and stay active. n

Submitted 173 days ago
Categories: categoryTime With The Boss
Views: 855