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Leadership Columbus: Lisa Shafran


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Lisa Shafran
Lisa Shafran


Lisa Shafran

Born: New York City

Age: 58

Why and when did you move to Columbus? I moved to Columbus in 1995 because of my husband’s job with Regal Rugs.

Occupation: President of Turning Point Domestic Violence Services

Family: Husband Joe, self-employed; daughter Jessica Shafran, 27, son, Drew Shafran, 26.

Community involvement: When we first moved to town, I did a lot with the schools because our children were young, so I served on the PTO and did a lot of volunteering. I was a member of the Columbus Service League and served in various capacities, including as president. I spent 10 years volunteering with the United Way in various roles and served as the chair of the board of directors. I am on the board of the Centra Credit Union Foundation and the Columbus Area Visitors Center.

Hobbies: We love to play bridge and I really like to read and travel. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I don’t play golf and I’m standing firm on that.

● What was your first job?

My first job out of college was as a merchandising trainee in the executive training program at Bloomingdale’s. I had worked for Bloomingdale’s since I was 15, so when I graduated they hired me and that was my first real job.

● What primary lessons did you learn from that job that have helped you today?

Every experience is a learning experience and you have to honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and build a team that complements each other. What I’ve learned is that whether working with a small or large staff, the team-building component is crucial.

● What are the biggest leadership lessons you’ve learned?

Everyone should feel their opinion is heard, valued and contributes to the mission of the organization. The most important thing is to never be afraid to ask questions and always be willing to let go and let team members share the responsibilities.

● So, you started in retail and are now leading a social service agency. What was your personal turning point?

Ultimately, I ended up in human resources at Bloomingdale’s because it was apparent to me that along the way, that was the piece of my role that I enjoyed the most. The move to Columbus put me out of the work business, so I was able to spend a lot of time volunteering and learning about the community. I have been fortunate in both my for-profit and not-for-profit career to have had strong mentors. Sherry Stark, who is the former Heritage Fund CEO, is responsible for the start of my not-for-profit career. She hired me as the development officer at Heritage Fund.

● How did you develop your leadership capabilities?

Sherry Stark, through her teaching, guidance and leadership example, has really been the one to help me develop leadership skills in the not-for-profit sector that I never thought I had. She encouraged me to challenge myself, ask good questions and reach outside my comfort zone. In addition, I had the advantage at the Heritage Fund and now at Turning Point as well, to work with many community leaders who serve as board members. They have diverse backgrounds and skills that continue to help me learn and grow and that has been a real benefit.

● What are some of the lessons you have learned or examples that demonstrate the level of community involvement in Columbus?

Prior to moving to Columbus, I only lived in large metropolitan areas and was not expecting the surprise that is Columbus, Indiana. It was really clear to me early on, how important strong leadership is to this exceptional community. There is no shortage of people willing to step up to fulfill and expand the vision of those that came before us. The community has set values that guide each decision that is made with a clear vision for the outcome. To me, even among the great architecture and the strong economic growth, the collective need to give back to the community is the most amazing thing. For organizations like Turning Point, we wouldn’t be able to exist without the generosity and support of the community as a whole. I tell this to friends who have never been here, that those who come and visit are always amazed at the depth and breadth of what is available in this small Midwestern community.

● What advice do you have for people who want to become more involved in the community?

Columbus has so many different opportunities to volunteer, there is truly something for everyone. If someone is new to the community, I would say don’t wait to get involved. That was good advice that was given to me when I moved to Columbus and I encourage anyone else to take it because it really gave me an opportunity, to learn about the community. There are resources like the Volunteer Action Center or any of the countless agencies and organizations that welcome and need volunteer help. I would say that because of all of the opportunities that exist in this community, look to where your passion is and you will find something that fits it.

● You mentioned that you like to travel. Where do you like to go?

One of our favorite places to travel to is Italy and that’s a place we would like to go back to. In this country, my husband and I like to travel to opposite coasts. I love Cape Cod (Massachusetts) and he likes Hawaii, so we are kind of split on that. I think we would both like to do some more overseas travel.

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