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Rebecca Tankersley

Rebecca Tankersley

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

Hi, my name is Becca Tankersley and I'm the CEO of Lion's Heart- Teen Volunteers and Leaders. I've dedicated my life to service and spent my entire career in the nonprofit sector. With two military parents, I feel like service is in my DNA. It's my first and strongest instinct to help. I've grown so much in my life by volunteering and giving back, I feel very strongly it's one of the most important opportunities life and vital for our youth. One of my favorite quotes is "The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others." -Mohandas Gandhi.

Right now I find myself most focused on diversity. Diversity among our membership, Board of Directors, staff... but also diversity in the experiences we are providing to our members. We will never grow and learn if we don't experience each other. I think some of today's issues can be diminished if we took time to learn about each other's backgrounds and understand each other more. I hope to provide those experiences to our members through their volunteer work and to spread the importance of diversity.

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

I am relatively new to Ellevate, and just attended my first event last week. It was an evening of great conversation and amazing to connect with like-minded women. I'm also thoroughly enjoying our weekly squad calls. It's great to learn from each other, and for me (someone who's never worked in the for-profit field) I'm learning more about other fields from my peers.

How would you define your professional mission?

To be a leader with heart. Live the Lion's Heart motto of "thinking of others before yourself" and empower our youth to do the same.

What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?

Any nonprofit professional should first and foremost be mission focused. It's easy to lose focus and get hung up on small things (that seem huge) when you're most likely doing the job of multiple people. Keeping the mission in mind at all times is an easy way to prioritize and get out of your way when needed.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?

That would definitely be being named the CEO & President of Lion's Heart, making me the youngest CEO in Orange County. I felt as though my age was always a barrier for me, but I continued to push through showing those who put that barrier there that I can easily jump it. When I was approached to take over Lion's Heart it was overwhelming and empowering to feel supported and truly believed in- and my age not even being a factor.

What are some career challenges on your radar?

My biggest challenge right now is expanding the programs Lion's Heart offers to remain competitive with increasing competition- all with limited staff and resources. We are finding more and more schools offering similar programs, so we are looking and expanding our program to fit member and societal needs and nailing down our messaging.

What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?

We are getting ready to release a comprehensive leadership course that I am extremely excited about. This is a three-part course (personal, group and societal leadership) for our members I've been developing for severals years now. It teaches our teens about themselves, their peers and society and their role in making a difference in each scenario. I'm most excited about the societal leadership section where it teaches them how to continue to give back in their adult lives and how to create social change. Ending in taking them through project management and creation of their own community service project. I think it's the perfect way to bring the whole Lion's Heart experience together and send them off into adulthood.

We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?

As I mentioned I think service is in my DNA. I lost my dad when I was two to cancer, which kick-started my journey to service. At a very young age I showed a determination for a world where no other little girl has to go through that. At five I conducted my first fundraiser on my own- I went around the neighborhood asking for donations for the American Cancer Society (unbeknownst to my mom.) By my teens I brought a Relay for Life to our community and served as the committee chair among many other volunteer and leadership positions. I had never realized that this could be my career though. After meandering through my first year of college, where I realized I in fact did NOT want to be a photographer and dropping out of art school, I found myself having a conversation with Beau Biden (Joe Biden's late son) where he pointed me in the direction of AmeriCorps. It was there that I realized that this could, and should be my path and I dedicated my life to service.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love seeing all of the amazing community service our teens are doing in their communities. We have had several members create their own nonprofits and projects after having these powerful experience and wanting to do more.

What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?

For me, Lion's Heart felt like the obvious move for me- combining both my passion for community service and the importance of getting youth involved. It always felt like the right next step for me, and the rest is history.

What is your favorite social media site? Why?

I love instagram - mostly for the bunny and puppy photos. :)

What would you say your personal superpower is?

Resilience - I have been able to overcome some traumatic events in life through the power of service. It is my personal shapeshifting. I have used service as a way to "fight back" and "take control"- healing through helping others in a similar situation.

Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

I am an obsessive exerciser. It's important to find that one thing that you enjoy and make it a priority. I found an exercise community I love and it makes it easy to go every day. It's my me time, and a way to reenergize. I am also very cheap, so I am sure to sign up and attend so I don't get hit with that $10 cancellation fee.

What advice would you offer future leading ladies wishing to break into your industry?

Network and volunteer! Networking is so important to learn about organizations or positions you may be interested in. Volunteering is also a great way to figure out if something/someplace is for you. It's a wonderful way to get job experience before making a big switch.


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