A dedicated and passionate advocate for child welfare, Tonya Torosian’s work with children and nonprofit management spans over 30 years. As CEO of Promises2Kids, Tonya has continued her personal and professional mission to create a brighter future for foster youth. Recently, she journeyed through a beautiful and purposeful sabbatical taking time to reconnect with herself – putting herself first in brave and powerful new ways while continuing to create a positive impact on both employees and organizations.
GB: Please tell us about your position at Promises2Kids?
As CEO of Promises2Kids, I work closely with the Board of Directors to set our vision for the organization and then operationalize it for the staff to make it happen! We are all about the children and youth we serve, so keeping a pulse on their needs, engaging them in conversations on their challenges and successes is at the forefront of our work.
GB: What prompted you to move forward with a sabbatical?
I have known about the Clare Rose Sabbatical program with The Fieldstone Leadership Network for many years and admired its ability to help nonprofits create space for reflection, rejuvenation, and leadership development. I have worked for Promises2Kids for 13 years and recently reached the 10-year milestone as CEO. I was reflecting on my work and life.
Like many parents, I struggled with balancing work and family time. My son was starting Kindergarten and with his autism, big changes are challenging for him. My wife and I wanted to have as much family time as possible to support our son.
It was also a perfect time for my organization to grow and expand its leadership development. I was hopeful to see changes in roles and growth across the organization. We expanded rapidly over the past 10 years, growing from over $1M to nearly $6M. We grew our Guardian Scholars program, serving nearly 10 times the number of youth than when I started as CEO. We were ready to shake things up and continue a path of growth.
GB: What lessons did you learn during your sabbatical?
• It is important to find things outside your job that feed your soul and then do them.
• Things are better as a team, with fully engaged and partners in decisions.
• My CEO role is as an advocate for the children and youth we serve, a cheerleader for the team, a connector with the community and a visionary for the organization.
• Most important is that I am right where I want and need to be professionally and personally. I found a way to balance both and be happy with what I have and can do in all aspects of my life.
GB: How is your partnership with SWA important to Promises2Kids?
Southwest Airlines has been a long-time partner with Promises2Kids and is the Official Airline of Promises2Kids. They gift travel and funds so we can take foster youth on college tours, something that they otherwise could not do. For most of the youth, it is their first time on an airplane or out of the County. These trips help our youth pursue an education that they may not otherwise have considered for themselves.