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Changing Your Life through Evolve: Three Stories

Peg Kavaney
At 67, retirement was a surprise for Peg Kavaney. The employer Peg was working for was purchased by another company. She could have continued working in the new environment, but because the culture was very different she decided to retire. She found the reality of retirement difficult. She missed having colleagues, and she needed something to give her passion.

Nancy Nonini
For her job at the Minnesota Senior Federation, Nancy Nonini gave retirement planning seminars. She had started feeling that leadership was something she needed to think about for her work. She took the Evolve: Re-igniting Self & Community course as a result. Then she was laid off from the federation, which dissolved as a result of current economic conditions. She had scheduled several seminars prior to her layoff and went forward with them, but she did not have any plans beyond those sessions.

Bill Read
Retired for three or four years, in 2005 Bill Read moved from Eau Claire to the Twin Cities because his wife took a job with Inver Grove Community College. Without friends and colleagues in the Twin Cities, he was seeking ways to build a new network and focus his energies.

Who Is a Leader?

Nancy, Bill, and Peg did not identify themselves as leaders before taking VAN’s course in leadership development, but because they were in transition, they were open to the potential that Evolve offered. They all think the class redefined leadership for them, enabling them to move forward with their Evolve projects and their lives.

Nancy says, “I didn’t think of myself as a leader. When I went to class the first day, I was not sure that I really belonged. I saw leadership as vision only. The Evolve course redefined leadership for me. I realized that I am good at making connections, at finding solutions. I now look at those skills in terms of leadership.”

The course helped her define a project in which she will interview elders at Trinity Care Home in Farmington and put their stories in a book to share with families and staff. The most immediate impact of the course, however, was giving her the courage to move forward as an entrepreneur. Nancy has started her own business offering retirement education.

Bill tells us, “I was hesitant about becoming a leader because I was not sure of my direction. The topics for the Evolve course all sounded very useful and pertinent. In the first session, I was sold on the course being worth my time. I discovered that leadership has many definitions and many ways of being pursued. Through contact with other motivated, searching individuals, I became more comfortable taking it step by step. I learned it is possible to develop a type of leadership that fits me.”

Bill has made the connections he was seeking, establishing relationships that he values with people who took the course with him. In his project, he is focusing on ways to help Evolve alumni perpetuate the connections they have made, both for socializing and for networking in goal-directed pursuits. He also wants to help VAN keep Evolve alive, building awareness of the worth of the course.

Peg indicates, “Through the course, I started to identify myself as a leader. The classes allowed me to reflect on what I had done in my life and what my skills are. Coming from a corporate culture, I had no knowledge of the work that nonprofits do in communities, and I didn’t know about the research being done on aging. The course was my introduction to the concept of vital aging and gave me a whole new vision for the future. It also gave me access to information to help me define that future.”

The course renewed Peg’s passion for her project that focuses on educational reform. She is working with a national charter school system called KIPP, Knowledge is Power Program.

The Evolve course has changed the lives of Peg Kavaney, Nancy Nonini, and Bill Read. Taking the course can change your life as well.

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