Sheila Lewandowski
January 24, 2018

Read my first and second blog posts.

I had this feeling when I walked into my house yesterday that J.R. greeted me. I heard the jingle of her collar and had that feeling of unconditional love that dogs give you when you come home. She’s been gone since November 3, 2011 but I have her collar hanging on a mirror in the vestibule and, I guess, yesterday I hit it just right. It was a lovely ending of a good day.

At The Chocolate Factory earlier that evening I gave a presentation that told the story of the decade long journey that took us from a rejected Small-Cap grant turned into a feasibility study all the way to a permanent home for performance. One of the things I think is so hard about leading a nonprofit is the conflicting pressure to serve your mission by sharing with peers to strengthen your sector while also competing with those same people. In all fairness this conflict exists in the for-profit sector and in people’s personal lives. Maybe I just can’t live or work that way.

I’ve received calls from all over the City from folks wanting to chat on the phone or get coffee. Since it is not a 5, 10 or even 20-minute conversation I keep declining. I’m not a consultant so I can’t tell you what will work for you and I don’t want to give anyone the impression that it was one thing that made it all happen. Every situation and every story is unique. But, I am a big believer in peer learning so I want to share. I also learned a lot more than I had known about amazing dedicated companies like Amerinda, Theatre Mitu, The Barrow Group, Astoria Performing Arts, Flux Factory and even the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Post presentation a few of us continued the conversation at BLVD with good wine, beautiful photos on the walls (you know who you are) and I was able to introduce my Board Treasurer to some of the attendees.

As I write this I realize I have an issue with capitalizing on knowledge. As you read this you are probably thinking ‘get over it!’ or ‘exactly!’ I am sure that another of CF’s Board members who is involved with intellectual property law is shaking his head. Sorry!


I believe quite strongly in transparency but… I had a moment or two when I was reminded that a story is experienced through the lens of the viewer/reader/audience and remembered as a paragraph of a chapter in their story. So… I look forward to sharing this story again on Friday evening. It’s a good story but it is our story.

In the same way that an artist continues to evolve in their practice and presentation by learning from the work of others, I hope our story helps other organizations throughout the City to keep writing their own story, building on their own missions and dreams while they keep serving their communities.

A last note – thank you to our local Girl Scout troupe for interrupting the presentation with a heart-warming message in support of The Chocolate Factory. I wear a badge on my heart in support of the Girl Scouts, too!