Leaders Who Inspire

June 16, 2017
Joan Parker, Counterpart International's CEO, speaking about leadership

Joan Parker speaking at Rock Your Talk, a live event where people share authentic and powerful stories

By: Jennifer Jones, Vice President of Strategic Communications

I have shelves full of books on leadership. From how to be an effective leader, to how to coach leaders, to how to lead in the midst of change and uncertainty. I’ve also taken my share of leadership trainings, but the message about leadership I heard at the Miracle Theatre on June 15th was among the most inspiring. And it was my boss, Joan Parker, the CEO and leader of Counterpart International who delivered it.

“Getting Everyone to the Top” was the theme of her Rock Your Talk. Joan told the audience about the pact she made with her sister to climb 60,000 vertical feet by the time they are sixty. “60×60” they call it. Joan brought us with her to Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and on the trek up the 19,000-foot peak.

She also brought us down off the mountain, and shared the epiphany she had about leadership. It’s not about leading from the front, Joan tells us. “It’s about leading from the back.”

And that attitude mirrors Counterpart’s approach with our local partners around the world. Our mission is to make them “wildly successful in their efforts to climb their own mountains” and Joan shared several examples of how we do this community by community by community.


It wasn’t just the talk that was inspiring — it was that Joan was willing to do it. To take up the challenge of being coached to engage more people more effectively with her message about Counterpart. As a leader, she was willing to be vulnerable, to say, I can do better and I want to learn how to do better. That’s something I’ve never heard from any other boss I’ve had in my more than 30 years in the workplace. Now, that’s inspiring. And that’s leadership.

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