Reflections on the Impact of NBA’s Executive Leaders Peer Learning and Wellness Group

For several years, the National Benevolent Association has convened several Peer Learning and Wellness Groups. These groups are called together around common areas of ministry or professional roles. The groups provide an opportunity for Disciples to engage in peer support and encouragement, mutual dialogue, spiritual renewal, and peer-to-peer learning.

In the spring of 2021, the Executive Leaders Peer Group concluded their two-year journey with one another. The group was led by former CEO of Woodhaven Mark Palmer, and was comprised of eight professionals who hailed from six different states, ran large multi-million-dollar organizations with hundreds of staff, as well as leaders who ran small nonprofits with volunteer staff.

During their time together, this group had three focus areas. First, they listened to a podcast about former CEO Elizabeth Holmes and how she managed, and later was charged for, her fraudulent work at Theranos. Then, they read the book The 5 Temptations of a CEO by Patrick Lecioni and had some discussions around that. Lastly, as the pandemic unfolded, the group shifted their focus to discussing how it was affecting our work as nonprofit leaders.

The pandemic played a major role in how the group operated in the second half of their covenant time. For the last 12 months of the peer group, their meetings focused on daily operational needs of each participant’s organization as well as self-care for these leaders.

“This peer group allowed senior leaders to have a safe space to share with others ‘sitting in the same chair’ they are. Members are able to speak about things they can’t discuss with anyone else,” says convener Mark Palmer. “Executive Directors have things they can’t talk to staff, board members, or other local agency CEOs about. NBA’s Peer Learning and Wellness Group allows a member to be completely open with the group. We’ve had laughter and many tears as we dealt with our professional lives.”

For more thoughts on what it was like to lead and be part of this group, watch the video below.