Meet Sandra Shelton Executive Director of StrengthBank Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally.
From secondary education to corporate leadership to entrepreneur and, now, executive director of a nonprofit, I have given over 1900 presentations in 15 countries that engage and reach people in a personal, humorous, and practical way. What never changes for me is the need to help people communicate so that each perpetuates a portfolio of good working relationships – the reason for and the sustainer of any endeavor, any life circumstance.  I was inspired by my corporate audiences to create something for the upcoming workforce, i.e., today’s high school teens. Thus StrengthBank Inc. was formed to recruit and certify business people to reach into today’s high schools and mentor them up.  New hires can now come fully prepared as  fulfilled people who function successfully and contribute positively.  More than that, they know how to reach back to mentor the next generation.  Mentors creating mentors is the way we like to look at the mentoring program: StrengthBank® for High Schools – A Relationship Skills Initiative.
What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place?
I enjoy the sea of faces that change with me as we experience a mutual lifting up to a higher level of viewing this thing called life and making a living. I was fortunate to have a dad who saw in me the future that was not a cookie cutter career easily named and categorized but a future that would require perseverance to create and do something no one else may at first fully understand or appreciate.  Martina McBride’s recent song Anyway is a musical way to put how my dad mentored me.  My calling found me and I accepted it, warts and all.
Tell us about the organizations your company supports and why?
We support any company with a desire for a CSR strategy that allows volunteers to be certified and sent on a regular basis to mentor: 2 times a month, 45 minutes, in the local high school advisory classes. Why?  A communication bridge is created between the high school and the business community that gets exciting as new hires begin coming into that first job are focused for it while remaining future-focused to life long learning, achieving, and contributing.  The peripheral benefit to the community is less gangs and vandalism, fewer high school drop-outs and teen pregnancies, more kids understanding the lifelong power of knowledge acquisition for participation in a democratic process, and overall great community connectedness to all its parts – the ultimate homeland security.
What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome?
Biggest Risk – becoming a free-lance professional speaker and walking the talk, not just talking it. Biggest Obstacle – keeping the passion yet also an eye on finances so that the vision is funded and more high school kids have a chance to live each one’s bank of strengths to its full, positive potential.
From where do you draw inspiration?
From God who created me and equipped me for this mission, my dad who was never able to live his vision yet clearly saw mine, from teens who blossom from focus on StrengthBank® principles and literally fine tune their lives before me, and from the miracle and honor of being born in the greatest nation on earth that allows capitalism to flourish so that each can pursue life, liberty, and happiness unfettered.
Who have been your role models, mentors, etc?
Dale E. Shelton, my dad (Navy Lt. WWII, USS Anderson), Megatrends by John Naisbitt, An American Life by President Ronald Reagan, Leadership Is An Art by Max DePree, (chairman emeritus, Herman Miller Co), The Lord Is My Counsel by Marion Wade (ServiceMaster founder), Billy Graham (never hesitated live his calling), and countless entrepreneurs who reach out and create a business that contributes to the greater good by providing excellence to each of its customers, clients, and employees.
How has the current economic situation affected your organization?
It’s just another economy while being, like all economies, an impetus to be sure we are contributing and staying tuned in to our elected leaders to give counsel and input.  None of us lives on an island unaffected by what our elected government does.  What a privilege to be an active perpetrator of America at its best even when times might suggest struggles. Through perseverance we can be stronger.  As we mentor to teens: struggles lead to perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope.
What one thing would you like to learn this year?
Remain alert and focused no matter what the circumstance or what the social networking temptation. Remember a mission has adversaries and supporters. When evil is minimized or ignored, it can come back destroy the mission by convoluting daily priorities.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Presenting StrengthBank® Mentor certification events via satellite nationwide with hundreds of companies preparing to join the ranks of StrengthBank® Mentors into High School America.
What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment?
I relish old movies; they are cleaner, leave more to the imagination, provide mental stimulation, remind me of the younger, more innocent days of America that freely attributed our cherished freedom to the miracle from God to our forefathers willing to live each one’s calling, no matter what the sacrifice.  I love connections to my great-nephews and utterly amazing family and friends, to swim, walk my dogs, dance, take in great music and theater, and be by the ocean.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Each of us has been created with a bank of strengths just waiting to be unleashed, lifted higher, refined in order that the fruits of it can be shared, absorbed, then mentored into our youth.  Take the opportunity to become a meaningful mentor, a StrengthBank® mentor.
Which, if any social networking sites do you belong to?
LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, REnetworks, and currently holding my own more than joining more.  Time face-to-face is at a premium.
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