Do you see yourself as a strategic or operational leader and why?
Answer: Strategic! I’ve enjoyed strategy since I was a kid (a necessity while playing hours of board games with my smart and competitive younger brother). It has been a pleasure to grow that skill as I’ve taken on larger leadership roles throughout my career. Every day, I am deeply involved in strategic conversations with stakeholders and partners throughout the region about the evolution of work in child welfare and services for the disabled. We must be ahead of the changes in the field, for the good of our organization and those we serve. I try to be disciplined, too, in ensuring that each decision I make for the organization fits into a larger context. I am always concerned about fairness, and understanding historical precedent, and making sure we are sustainable. It is important to me that I don’t make one-off decisions but instead ensure my choices are part of a continuum of good strategic decisions throughout Little Flower’s history – and future. This is a difficult question, though – I must confess I’ll always also be a non-profit “operations nerd,” but I see that as a foundational knowledge and interest to making strategic decisions.
Keeping up on best practices and current trends is a never-ending process in every industry. How do you keep up with all the information that is available?
Answer: I am an avid reader and constantly monitoring non-profit trends and best practices. I sit on many boards and actively participate in several industry membership organizations. I am also surrounded by a strong group of colleagues who keep me abreast of the trends in their particular areas of expertise. Our senior staff, most of whom have decades of experience, share information regularly with each other and me about their area of expertise and we are always committed to learning from others in the field. I also have many friends outside of the organization who have come up through the ranks of very innovative non-profits throughout the country, and we love to “talk shop” about the non-profit field – when we’re not talking about pop culture or our kids.
When it is all over how would you want to be remembered?
Answer: I like to believe that my legacy will be best seen through others – through the lives of my children and through those I’ve served in my career. But when people think of me, I’d like to be remembered as someone who tried to live a life in which work and living were fully integrated with each other. I love the poem “Two Tramps in Mud’s Time” by Robert Frost. The final stanza has been on my desk for yours:
But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.
Name one person who influenced your life and why (could be family, mentors, historical figures, etc.)?
Answer: I grew up in a household with two very conscientious and hard working parents, and they have both been the greatest influences on my life. But I have been thinking about my father a lot lately, particularly in the nearly two years since I became the leader of Little Flower. My father and I are a lot alike, even though our professions are very different – he is an attorney in Maryland who founded a law firm 20 years ago. However, we enjoy talking about work and life because our perspectives are very similar – we even usually order the same menu items in restaurants! My leadership style is similar to my father’s – he is also quiet and deliberate – not always the common profile of a leader. He lost his own father at a very young age, so being a consistent, present, and dependable father have been his guiding principles, though it is not something he discusses a lot. This consistency is something I try to emulate as a parent myself. When I was a child, he was always very open with me and my sister and brother about when we were getting in our own way. His advice to me, whether it is to be more patient or to use reason rather than emotion in decision-making, has proven correct time and time again. I try to follow these examples as a parent, leader, and mentor myself.
What advice would you give to an aspiring leader of tomorrow?
Answer: My advice is not very glamourous, but is always the same: work as hard as you can, day after day, week after week. Learn all you can about your field, and if you don’t like your field – change! Be known as dependable and trustworthy. If you’re not invited to a meeting or event, ask to come – and ask to help out. Seek out mentors and ask them specific advice – they love to give it! If you have a problem, don’t hide it. Daylight helps most problems and the person worrying about them, which is usually you. Be direct about your concerns, but be constructive, not petty or dramatic. But most importantly, as I said first, work hard!
By the way, I love aspiring leaders, ever since I was mentored through the Women’s Leadership Project when I was an undergraduate at Harvard. I love to mentor leaders, especially those who are driven and community-minded. Reach out to me!
About Corinne Hammons
Before joining Little Flower, she oversaw operations at Community Development Corporation of Long Island (CDCLI). While at CDCLI, she implemented several innovative programs, including the organization’s multi-faceted response to Superstorm Sandy and the expansion of its voucher program and green initiatives. Before CDCLI, she worked at Safe Horizon in a variety of capacities, including the implementation of the organization’s 9/11 response, the expansion of its 24-hour victim assistance hotlines and the Streetwork Project for homeless and street-involved youth.
Corinne holds an BA in Economics from Harvard University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. She is an active member of the Energeia Partnership at Molloy College and was a 2014 recipient of a Long Island Business News “40 Under 40” award. As a volunteer, she sits on several boards including the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI), Little Flower Union Free School District Board of Education, and Harbor Country Day School, an independent PK-8 school in Suffolk County. As a proud Harvard alum, she conducts admission interviews for Harvard applicants each year and is currently co-chairing her 20th reunion committee.