Loretta Holland

Loretta Holland
  • Name
  • Loretta Holland
  • Title
  • Executive Director
  • Organization
  • Waterloo Counseling Center
  • Years as Executive Director
  • Almost two years, however Loretta previously worked at Waterloo Counseling Center as the Development Director.

  • What does your organization do?
  • Waterloo Counseling Center offers individual, couples, group, and family therapy through licensed staff counselors. Services are offered on a sliding scale for people who are uninsured, however Waterloo also accepts many major insurers, including traditional Medicaid and Medicare. Waterloo welcomes the entire community, but has an expertise in serving the GLBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS, Spanish speakers, people experiencing trauma, and people with low income.
  • How did you become interested in this work?
  • Being an Executive Director was never really on my radar. The opportunity was presented to me when Jean Lyons, Waterloo's previous Executive Director, moved to Dallas. I've been involved in fundraising and nonprofit work since the early 90's. I was searching for direction after I graduated from college and took a "what color is your parachute" type class at the old Austin Women's Center. After reviewing a survey I filled out, the woman teaching the class suggested I try nonprofit fundraising. I was 24 and have done very little beyond nonprofit work since then.
  • What drives your passion?
  • A sense of fairness. No matter what the cause is, what drives me is the idea that we are called/obligated to ensure that our little pocket of the world operates fairly. At Waterloo, what drives me is the legacy that I inherited. The agency was founded 30 years ago by Paul Clover, who I knew when I worked at AIDS Services of Austin in the early 90's. I have kept Waterloo stable and productive for him.
  • Did you have a mentor or role model?
  • Dara Gray, who was the Development Director at AIDS Services of Austin when I started working there in 1991, had (and has) a tremendous influence on me - personally and professionally. Even though I'm "all grown up" now, I still love hearing she's proud of me - she's like my "work mom". Jean Lyons, Waterloo's previous Executive Director, is a personal friend and is someone I'm very lucky to be able to consult with when I'm stuck.
  • What's the biggest challenge in your work?
  • The automatic and obvious answer to that is money and fundraising, which I think is every Executive Director's concern. Beyond that, I think it boils down to being able to anticipate and manage change, which happens frequently here. For example, funders change their policies, which affects staff, which affects service delivery methods. All of this then has an effect on clients accessing services, staff morale and expectations, and revenue.
  • What's the best advice that you have ever received?
  • When I became Executive Director, I was the Interim Executive Director for about 2 months while the board decided if they wanted to open the position and accept applications. Jean Lyons told me to just act like the job was mine from day one, lean in, be confident, make plans, don't be a place holder.
  • What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?
  • - You won't always feel confident, you won't always be sure, but you have to act like it. If you feel unsure or pressured, say you need some time to think about it before you give someone a response.

    - You don't know what you don't know, and you WILL have a big, giant safe (or five) fall out of the sky. Whether it's an unexpected clause in a contract, an unspoken expectation from a funder, an expense you didn't know you were responsible for - it's going to happen. You can mitigate this somewhat by reading all contracts (that you know about) executed before your arrival, but you will not know everything, and you have to be okay with that.

    - Keep moving forward. When problems come up, and they will, focus on problem solving and how to mitigate any negative results in the moment. Then go back and look for the holes in your system that allowed the problem to happen. You don't have the luxury of wasting time by being emotional.

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