Redefining Leadership: Sierra Abrams and Kahlo C. Flores M. Share the Future TOGETHER!

Sierra Abrams (left) and Kahlo C. Flores M. (right). standing by a white sign with three handprints on it and the word, 'TOGETHER!'
TOGETHER! is continuing their tradition of shared leadership with co-Executive Directors Sierra Abrams (left) and Kahlo C. Flores M. (right). Photo courtesy: TOGETHER!

The days of a pyramid-shaped hierarchy at work are fading fast. Very few businesses and organizations still rely on a single leader with descending tiers of underlings. And for good reason. Shared leadership blends experience, education and style as well as combats burnout, especially in the nonprofit and community welfare sectors. At TOGETHER!, they’re redefining leadership with Co-Executive Directors Sierra Abrams and Kahlo C. Flores M. working side-by-side to continue the legacy of previous Co-Directors Meghan Sullivan and Meagan Darrow.

Sierra Abrams (pictured) will focus on systems change within the organization and is inspired to become a facilitator who remains receptive to new ideas well into the future. Photo courtesy: TOGETHER!

Sharing Leadership is a Longtime Win/Win for TOGETHER!

Sharing top positions isn’t a new concept for TOGETHER! Previously, Sullivan and Darrow, alongside former finance director Jennifer Morgan, had a combined 50 year history with the group. They proved how well things could work in this new format. Currently Sierra Abrams focuses on systems change while Kahlo C. Flores M. addresses equity and community.

Abrams says that since accepting this new role, “I’ve been thinking a lot about what leadership means. I’m drawn to the word facilitator and remind staff to ask questions, be curious and maintain creative spaces to do the work. Meghan and Meagan were co-leaders with different titles for around ten years and it was so successful and such a good fit for TOGETHER!.”

With the organization’s school-based Club House programming, student host homes, Swift Fund and fundraising efforts, Abrams acknowledges that “we wear so many different hats for so many different programs. Every day is a surprise but it’s a good one. There’s no way to prepare for being executive director. Seeing so much all at the same time has been an adventure but it’s good to find that most people are receptive. I hope to continue these conversations into the future.”

Leading Through Vision, Inspiration, Motivation, Communication and Respect

Like Abrams, Kahlo C. Flores M. is excited to bring their talents to the role. “My idea of leadership is being able to inspire others, motivate, set a vision, communicate, respect others, and of course lead by example,” Flores says. “A leader must have an honest understanding of who they are, what they know and what they are capable of. When one is vulnerable, it encourages communities, staff, students, and other leaders to embrace their humanity, connect deeply with those we serve, and lead with the heart, the mind and the soul. Leadership is giving the power back to the people. El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.”

Kahlo C. Flores M. (pictured) focuses on equity and community. Flores loves the undiscovered potential when two or more leaders come together and work in unity for the sanity, nurture and healing of their community. Photo courtesy: TOGETHER!

Flores agrees with Abrams that sharing the weight of leadership is never a burden. “To truly empower staff, students, and communities one sole person would not be able to navigate the true essence of equity, community and systems change. There is undiscovered potential when two or more leaders come together and work in unity for the sanity, nurturing and healing of those most affected by our history, and those hurting to survive. Our organization is in partnership with wonderful people who are working with us to not only aid, but see our communities thrive. Shared leadership is essential. No one should be doing this work alone.”

Making Sure Young People are Supported, Healthy, Safe and Valued TOGETHER!

Though times and hierarchies may change, the very real need for Thurston County families does not. TOGETHER! offers everything from warm coats and homework help to safe housing and safe spaces affirming of their identity to local students. Flores  hopes in 2024 TOGETHER! can continue to build upon its solid foundation of addressing gaps in education, housing,  cultural identity, language awareness, and belonging. But she and Abrams are both hopeful thanks primarily to their amazing employees and volunteers. “We have people who are revolutionizing the way we support and how we show up for communities,” says Flores, “From our board to each member of our staff we are here to join our communities in the fight towards justice, healing, and joy.”

She hopes to ground and then elevate the organization. “There are wonderful human beings with remarkable talents and skills inside TOGETHER!,” says Flores. “I am here to continue to listen to them, what they see in the communities, how they feel, and what they envision. TOGETHER! has been around for 35 years, every year evolving in many ways. I am all here to continue to support this agency and cheer those who will continue to lead this heartfelt organization for the next 35 years.”

Follow their journey on Facebook and Instagram or sign up for their newsletter. Get involved through upcoming events, becoming a volunteer or making a donation. Monies earmarked for the Swift Fund are dedicated to emergencies and can cover everything from bills and food to tutoring and basic necessities. TOGETHER! may have redefined leadership but the spirit is still alive and well in 2024.


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