“My story has been one marked by journey. Journey through a sea of unknowns, intricate passions, and deep questions. I’ve always been fascinated by people, and I’ve always loved business. Since I was little, I’ve always sought to get understanding at the root, and to be apart of people’s journeys.”
Within minutes of my conversation with Kalee, I recognize an immense amount of experience, depth, and passion. After graduating from Southern Methodist University as a communications and PR major, Kalee dove right into a career in marketing at a sports entertainment firm. With clients like Puma, ATNT, and other big name companies, Kalee was balancing a lot of responsibility, traveling constantly, and often working 60-80 hour weeks. “When you’re working that much and you’re traveling that much, it can also be really lonely and isolating. So I came to this place… if I’m going to be working this much, I should at least be doing something I really care about.”
Seeking more meaning and purpose in her work meant living through a nine month journey of asking hard questions to find out what her best contribution to the world could be.
“What are my skills? What are my gifts? What do I like? I didn’t even know, to be honest, and it was really disorienting.” Through asking hard questions, allowing people to speak into her life, and a pivotal conversation with her mom, Kalee came to realize she wanted to be a therapist. She didn’t even know what a marriage and family therapist was at the time, but Kalee knew she had experienced a lot of healing in her life, so she wanted to be able to offer that to people.What Kalee was stepping into didn’t make sense at first, and she didn’t have a complete picture of what she was walking into, but isn’t that where the adventure is?
After completing her program and powering through the grind of getting her hours, Kalee launched her own private practice in January of this year. “What I say I will never do, tends to be what I do. This whole journey has been one of open hands, and I’ve really grown. In getting to be in private practice, in in-patient psych, in trauma work, and in getting to see how people’s stories play out.”
After launching her practice, Kalee knew there was still more - something different, something bigger she needed to step into. Kalee asked, “What are the parts of me that I want to play in? I have this kingdom to play in, where do I say ‘yes’ and where do I say ‘no way?’”
During this whole season, Kalee had always been involved at FLDWRK on different levels. “I realized I love business strategy, it excites me. But I also love leaders. I understand the nuances and complexities of being a leader. Whether you’re the CEO for a for-profit, whether you’re the executive director of a non-profit, or you’re leading a church… whatever it is, there are a lot of things that go with that. It can be a very isolating place, and it’s really hard to live into the fullness of who you are because of the expectation, because of the pressure, because of the burdens. You can’t be fully known, because of the expectations at play.”
And out of Kalee’s heart, her background, and her first hand experience in leadership, FLDWRK’s Impact Program was born. She began asking the question, “What does it look like to create a space for leaders to be fully human and flourish for themselves, but then also for their relationships and their organizations to flourish?”
So Kalee came to Jeff Tanner, co-founder of FLDWRK, with this vision, and it catalyzed. She entered Launch, one of FLDWRK’s startup programs, and began a 15 week journey to grow the Impact Program from an idea to an organization, to help leaders sustain impact. Kalee’s heart bleeds with the passion to change the culture of work by providing leaders with a space to live in the fullness of who they are and lead their organizations out of that place - instead of a place of isolation, burnout, exhaustion, and failure.
“One thing we believe is that a lonely leader won’t sustain impact. If you’re living detached from who you are, then you’re not going to be able to continue leading and impacting well. Your impact may actually become destructive, and you will start to implode. That may be a slow deterioration, or it may be an accelerated deterioration. With that, you also start to see the breakdown in family, the breakdown in an organization, as well as personal breakdown.”
By providing practical and integrated support, Impact provides a space for leaders to lead sustainably. Leaders who are apart of the Impact program are placed in locationally based cohorts to meet once a month. Groups are led by a business guide and an integration guide, and participants will engage in discussion on organizational victories, unique challenges, and questions so that they begin to have a bigger picture of what they’re operating out of. The experience is very collaborative, organic, and it’s a very in-process format. Through facilitated conversation, shared meals, and guided self-reflection, the Impact Program is a tool for leaders to be able to invest intentionally in their lives and in their work.
Kalee’s mission is that as leaders begin to live into the fullness of who there are, they begin to work in meaning and interact with one another in a way that starts to define the new vocabulary that they’re bringing into their own organization. As they model this in their leadership, their employees will be empowered and start to ask questions and realize that who they are is so incredibly intertwined with the way they work.
As Kalee prepares to launch the Impact Program this Thursday at FLDWRK’s Pitch Night, she invites people into her vision - to take a step toward sustainable impact for themselves, or encouraging a leader they know to step into it.