Whether you are a veteran, active duty, or never served in the military, this episode has something for every nonprofit professional. Those who never served will enjoy a crash course in military leadership and explore possible biases about veterans as employees (or bosses). Veterans and active duty listeners will gain valuable insight about transitioning into the nonprofit sector.
More than 100,000 Americans leave the military every year, and they represent a broad swathe of Americans. Some made a career of military service, rising through the ranks. Others served a just a few years and left for civilian life. But all of them left with the benefits from military: leadership skills, occupation training, and physical fitness.
When most people transition to civilian life, they have to look for meaningful work – often for the first time in their adult life. While the transition can be daunting, veterans wanting to work in the nonprofit sector offer a lot of transferable skills, as well as a few unique challenges.
This week on the podcast, we spoke with Retired Colonel Lora L. Tucker. Lora enlisted in the Army as a young person and was quickly identified for Officer Candidate School. Her military career spanned interesting and challenging assignments, and she retired with a strong desire to use her talents in the nonprofit sector. She successfully transitioned into nonprofit leadership, and has served as CEO of two different nonprofits. Currently the CEO of CenterLink, a national organization for LGBTQ Centers, Lora shared her thoughts and strategies for a successful transition for those leaving the military.
Our conversation included a deep dive on building organizational culture and leadership to help nonprofits thrive.
(4:39): How Lora decided to join the military
(6:00): A brief description of Lora’s military training (basic training, air traffic control school, OCS, air assault course, etc).
(9:03) Lora’s leadership journey as an officer in the military
(11:17): The importance of looking for leadership opportunities opportunity and being willing to ask for the chance to lead
(15:55): The importance of mentors at all levels of an organization
(16:38): Why veterans would consider the nonprofit sector instead of working with the government or a for profit company
(17:35): How Lora transitioned into the nonprofit sector
(18:30): Learning how to look for a job (because career military don’t need to have this skill)
(19:00): The bias that veterans often face when looking for work in the nonprofit sector.
(21:20): The transition training that comes with the military offers to those leaving the service
(23:35): The deep dive on building a nonprofit culture embodying the virtues of selfless service, duty, and loyalty (if your organization culture doesn’t already reflect these virtues).
(37:75): Advice Lora would give to her active-duty self
(39:30): Advice to CEO’s and board chairs about recruiting and onboarding veterans
(40:05): How your organization can adapt and grow in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world.
You can reach Lora at CenterLink