"You can choose a career
that brings in money and give it away," says Sharp Lehman,
who is New England regional director for Roots & Shoots,
a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young people
effect positive change for communities, animals and the environment.
"Or you can choose to do something with your time that has
greater significance. I consider my contribution of time as
not to say Sharp Lehman's résumé isn't dotted with prestigious
work for consulting firms and Fortune 500 companies. It is.
As a new
Kellogg School graduate, she helped top firms hone their strategies
and organizational effectiveness, as well as provided executive
education to a variety of industries. But a seven-year career
hiatus to raise her two young boys helped Sharp Lehman rethink
her priorities when it was time to restart her career.
Jane Goodall and Lehman work together at a Roots &
Shoots wildlife sanctuary on Martha's Vineyard in 2006.
Photo © Christine
job needed to be something that really mattered to take me
away from my children," reflects Sharp Lehman, whose sons
are now 14 and 17.
found it in a short jump from the consulting world to the
nonprofit world. In fact, many of the skills that had dazzled
her for-profit bosses could be put to good work doing good
In her position with
Roots & Shoots, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute,
named for the famed primatologist and established to encourage
young people around the world to take on serious environmental
and community issues, Sharp Lehman is developing a strategic
direction and plan for expanding the organization in the Northeast.
The organization, founded in 1991 by a youth group on Goodall's
porch in Tanzania, encourages small teams of young people
to work on an issue — protecting sea turtles, for example
— in their own communities, while connecting with peers
around the globe. More than 100 young people from some 100
countries currently are involved with the program.
her new role for a few months, Sharp Lehman has already helped
plan a global youth summit to be held in April at Walt Disney
World in Orlando, which will convene 100 young leaders from
around the world.
eyes: Sally Sharp Lehman oversees work of the Coastal
Waterbird Program with a colleague. The effort includes
beach management and monitoring of endangered Piping Plovers
and Least Terns. Photo
© Andrea Jones
that's not to say nonprofit work has been a snap. In fact,
Sharp Lehman says she finds management work in a nonprofit
organization to be more challenging than in the for-profit
world, especially when comparative lack of resources and an
often hard-to-change organizational culture are factored in.
a nonprofit, mission is what guides you," Sharp Lehman reflects.
"It's how you measure the impact you're having. The for-profit
world is much easier that way. Everything is measured in terms
of the bottom line."
a nonprofit, she adds, limited resources constrain the scope
of activity. "There's
only so much you can do and there may not be another organization
that can step in and take over the project, so when you say
'no,' it's very difficult."
in point: In her previous position as regional director for
the southeast and islands region of the Massachusetts Audubon
Society, where she worked for 10 years, Sharp Lehman sometimes
had to accept that the organization did not have enough staff
to monitor all the beaches that needed protection or to save
every parcel of land from encroaching development.
the victories are sweet. While working for Audubon, she once
stood on a beach after a disastrous oil spill watching a front-end
loader build a sand berm to seal off an inlet to a 165-acre
coastal salt pond and marsh, home to countless young fish
and shellfish, as well as a breeding and nesting habitat for
endangered shore birds. Minutes after the land movers finished
the job, oil began to wash up on the beach.
"It was a huge victory
and such an incredibly satisfying moment to see the impact
of your work in protecting such an important place," she says.
it all, her Kellogg education has assisted her, particularly
as she's analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the different
organizations she's helped. "Kellogg teaches you to develop
a strategic plan," she says, a useful skill whether one aims
for the bottom line or the common good.