Dr. Deb Henton
Executive Director

Professor and author Brené Brown has written about the importance of being vulnerable as a leader. She believes that sometimes you have to be open about the challenges you face. By doing so, you will earn trust and take your leadership to a new level.

A phone call on November 2 letting me know my son Nick was unresponsive changed my life forever and exposed my vulnerability that I so desperately wish had been revealed in any number of other ways. That was not to be. 

How my vulnerability will express itself in the upcoming days and weeks ahead is unknown. Not surprisingly since returning to work I feel the desire to share my grief with colleagues. Other times I feel the need to quickly leave a setting to grieve privately. I know I am susceptible at any moment to being in some stage of grief or another, and then someone says something that reminds me of my son, or a memory is triggered by a random event and I realize I have little control of my response. I am vulnerable.

I know I must take Brené’s words seriously, not only because of the wise woman she is, but without demonstrating the courage to show my vulnerability, I may become disconnected from the membership I am so honored to lead. So I will be leaning on you, sharing with you and asking for assistance. That is a challenge in itself because I have always envisioned me being there for you and not the other way around.

I close with a quote from Christopher Walken that was read as Nick’s ashes were interred. May you never know the loss of a child and should you have or ever, my heart is with you. If you are vulnerable, I am there for you, too.  

“Someday you will be faced with the reality of loss. And as life goes on, days rolling into nights, it will become clear that you never really stop missing someone special who’s gone, you just learn to live around the gaping hole of their absence. When you lose someone you can’t imagine living without, your heart breaks wide open, and the bad news is you never completely get over the loss. You will never forget them. However, in a backwards way, this is also the good news. They will live on in the warmth of your broken heart that doesn’t fully heal back up, and you will continue to grow and experience life, even with your wound. It’s like badly breaking an ankle that never heals perfectly, and that still hurts when you dance, but you dance anyway with a slight limp, and this limp just adds to the depth of your performance and the authenticity of your character. The people you lose remain a part of you. Remember them and always cherish the good moments spent with them.”

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