Empower Leadership Pods & Blogs2020-10-23T15:04:27-04:00

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There are many different definitions of leadership and theories on what great leadership looks, sounds, and feels like. The Lead with Empower Podcast connects listeners with those who are “in the trenches” leading themselves and others each day in schools, on the field, and in their communities. We will learn about their unique leadership style and identify common traits between tremendous leaders through our guests’ personal stories and insight – inspiring our listeners to unleash their leadership potential at home, school, work, or on the field, and in their community.

Featured Episode

Steve Opalenik, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Founder of The Promethean Project,
Leads with Empower

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Season II of the Lead with Empower Podcast

Episode #7

Steve Opalenik, LMHC

Leads with Empower

“Motivation isn’t fairy dust; you don’t just sprinkle it on you and you’re good to go. Motivation comes from making a decision and committing to that decision.”

Our next guest on the Lead with Empower Podcast is Steve Opalenik. Steve is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Founder of The Promethean Project – a non-profit, community-based whole body wellness services provider. I first met Steve back in 2009 during our work together with Springfield College’s LACES Program and, since then, Steve has done nothing short of tremendous work in the field of mental, physical, and emotional health! Here are highlights from Steve Opalenik Leads with Empower:

  • 00:00: Episode Opening and Steve Opalenik Introduction
  • 10:30: We learn more about Steve’s non-profit, The Promethean Project and hear about the leadership challenges faced during Steve’s “entrepreneurial leap” in 2015
  • 20:45: Steve discusses the mission of The Promethean Project and the programs currently offered. Learn more about The Promethean Project
  • 31:40: “Break the Chains, Find Your Flame” – Steve dishes on his podcast which is focused on helping listeners break free from the chains of society to find their potential
  • 42:50: Steve talks about his time as a student at the University of Massachusetts (B.A. Psychology, 2005) and Springfield College (Master’s in Education, Marriage, & Family Therapy, 20011).
  • 46:45: Steve and I talk about our time “cutting our teeth in the field of human development” with Springfield College’s L.A.C.E.S. Program (Leaders in Academics, Community Engagement, & Service)
  • 56:15: Steve discusses a few personal stories regarding Leadership of Self, Leadership of Others, and his Leadership Legacy.
  • 01:01:35: Push-Ups, Pancakes, and Positivity – You’ll just have to listen!!!
  • 01:08:45: Steve shares an uplifting and inspirational message for those who are experiencing mental health challenges during the pandemic.
  • 01:13:00: We close the episode hearing about Steve’s desired and actual superpowers.

Follow the Steve and the great work he is doing with The Promethean Project on Facebook and on Instagram

Episode #6

Coach Jim Hofher

Leads with Empower

“First figure out the who, then figure out what. To find the guys that will succeed in your program, look at their character, trustworthiness, and work ethic. Find the guys that you want to be around every day and who want to be around you and your program every day!”

Jim Hofher, Defensive Analyst for Wake Forest University Football, joins the Lead with Empower Podcast! Jim has coached at both the collegiate and professional levels for 42 years. Jim offers tremendous leadership insight applicable in football and in life!

02:30: We welcome Jim to the Lead with Empower Podcast, check-in on him and his family, and hear about the start of the Wake Forest University Football Season.

13:00: Jim discusses the importance of communication in leadership; specifically when dealing with uncertain situations

17:15: We hear about Jim’s time as a high school and collegiate student-athlete, as well as the start of Jim’s coaching career. Jim shares thoughts on the importance of relationship development in coaching and in leadership.

34:45: Jim talks about the jump from assistant coach to head coach and discusses the importance of being a curious learner as a leader.

40:15: Jim and I discuss the importance of recruiting athletes with high character, tremendous work ethic, and trustworthiness. Jim shares leadership advice for aspiring college athletes and aspiring coaches. “There is no easy road, it requires initiative.”

53:20: We wrap up the episode hearing about Jim’s childhood inspiration, student-athletes who have “wowed” him, and a great “non-football” book for aspiring leaders (Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins)

Episode #5

Ken Watson and Victoria Alderman from the Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg Lead with Empower

“We teach our scholars that everything in life is not peaches and cream; there will be challenges and adversity. We help them build the skills to grind and persevere, stay on the right path, and achieve their personal greatness!”

Ken Watson (Dean of Students) and Victoria Alderman (Community Relations Coordinator) from the Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg (FL) join the Lead with Empower Podcast. Ken and Victoria are both wonderful people doing some tremendous work with the Academy Prep scholars and both share a wealth of leadership insight and wisdom during our episode together, here are the highlights from our discussion!

  • 02:30 – Ken and Victoria discuss the start of the 2020/2021 school year at AP, reflect on the end of the 2019/2020 school year and discuss and the importance of communication with their scholars and families to make sure the scholars have all they need to develop into transformational leaders.
  • 14:07 – We learn some background about the Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg; including the AP Mission and the “AP Way”.
  • 27:20 – Victoria and Ken share insight into their respective roles at AP and discuss their journey to AP.
  • 40:05 – Victoria and Ken discuss the key leadership skills scholars develop during their 4 years at AP.
  • 46:00 – We hear about strategies implemented by AP to help scholars build connections and a strong sense of community despite the disconnection associated with distance learning.
  • 01:04:41 – Victoria and Ken discuss their childhood inspirations, what currently motivates/inspires them, and share uplifting messages for students and teachers

Follow Academy Prep on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to learn more about the tremendous work they do!

Episode #4

Dr. Terrell Hill Leads with Empower

“Leadership is about legacy – being out front, taking a risk, and making a way for those following you. You get blessed to be a blessing to others!”

Dr. Terrell Hill has over 27 years experience in education and educational leadership – currently serving as the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources with Windsor Public Schools. In addition to his work with Windsor Schools, Dr. Hill is also the Founder and President of the Black Leaders and Administrators Consortium, Inc. (BLAC). You will find out very quickly during our episode that Dr. Hill is all about leadership – sharing wisdom and insight from his 27 years of experience with students, educators, educational leaders, and more! Highlights from our episode include:

  • The importance of leadership during the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic; blending the “whatever we need to do to get this done” attitude with flexibility, and a level of calmness to exist and thrive during moments of uncertainty.
  • A discussion about Windsor Schools’ past work with Empower Leadership (New Teacher Orientation Events and Administrative Retreats) and the importance of “comfort zone expanding” experiences for educators.
  • Learning about Dr. Hill’s journey from Springfield, MA to the United States Army, and to his current role with Windsor Schools; including those who influenced him along the way!
  • Dr. Hill’s dissertation study, The Career Paths of Black and White Superintendents, and how his study served as an inspiration to found BLAC, Inc. Learn more about BLAC at www.blacleaders.org

Episode #3

Al Carbone Leads with Empower

“If you’re not telling your story, someone else is and they’re probably doing it wrong!”

Al Carbone is in his 17th year as Commissioner of the Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) – one of the premiere athletic conferences for high school sports in the State of Connecticut. Al, a formal high school and collegiate athlete from East Haven, CT, does a tremendous job as the ambassador for the SCC. Al and I discuss the return of high school sports in Connecticut and much more during our episode, including:

  • Al’s background in athletics and his role/responsibilities as the Commissioner of the SCC.
  • The current state of high school sports – most notably, the decision making process with regards to restarting high school athletics this Fall.
  • Leadership lessons that high school athletes across the State can glean from the impact COVID-19 has had on high school athletics.
  • Why the return to high school sports is so important for athletes, their families, and their school communities.

Episode #2

James Lightfoot III Leads with Empower

James is currently the Director of Youth and Education Programs for the Urban League of Springfield, Inc. In addition to his youth development work with the Urban League of Springfield, Inc., James serves on multiple boards of the local chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. James and I discuss many topics during our episode, including:

  • James’ journey from Detroit, MI, to Grand Valley State University, and Springfield College. James shares stories about his “personal commitment challenge”, his study abroad trip to Australia, and his calling as a youth development professional.
  • The importance of helping youths and young adults identify their vision, develop an action plan, and make the most out of every situation in school, at home, and in your community.
  • The challenges youths and young adults have faced in 2020 and the mentorship, leadership, and support provided to uplift and empower those young adults!
  • How James leverages performing and creative arts in his mentorship and leadership of the youths and young adults her serves.

Episode #1

Dr. Ted France Leads with Empower

Ted is a faculty member in the Physical Education and Health Education major at Springfield College and also serves as the President of the Faculty Senate. Ted is one of, if not the best experiential educator I have ever crossed paths with – a true craftsman! Ted and I discuss many topics during our episode, including:

  • A behind the scenes look at the operational tempo of the leaders at Springfield College to prepare for a return to campus in the Fall
  • Leadership advice for students and teachers who are embarking on a very unique start to school
  • “Eye opening” moments as physical education students at Springfield College
  • The philosophy and implementation of experiential education
  • The education and development of leaders through intentional skill development experiences

Lead With Empower Podcast

Listen to Season I

With 24 episodes filled with leadership insights, Season I is still available to listen to.

Visit our archives page to check out these episodes!



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