Leadership Development: Jason DaSilva

The Challenge

Jason DaSilva founded AXS lab, a media company dedicated to building tools and telling the stories of disability through media, journalism, news, and technology, in 2008. Having worked as a filmmaker for over 8 years, Jason’s experience lay in filmmaking more than in running a nonprofit, and as AXS began to grow he knew he needed to undergo leadership development that would allow him to overhaul the organization and its structure and practices. Jason sought advice from two trusted sources who understood where he was in his career and the complexities of founding a nonprofit organization that combines media and technology with advocacy. Both people recommended CRE and our peer-learning programs; after some research Jason settled on the CRE Leadership Caucus, which would allow him to see how others were leading in the nonprofit space and learn strategies and best practices for running a nonprofit.

What We Did

Jason joined the CRE Leadership Caucus, a seven month peer-based learning program that aims to help early career leaders strengthen their leadership skills, understand how decisions impact their organization, and discuss management issues in an open and supportive environment. Like many of our leadership programs, the Caucus takes participants through a series of issue discussions, such as how to align mission with strategy, lead in a dynamic environment, understand and communicate your financial story, and develop staff. All of our leadership programs use Action Learning — a powerful, peer driven learning approach — to drive dialogue between participants. Action Learning splits participants into small groups of five to six people to discuss and break down priority challenges that fit within the themes of the day’s discussions. This approach allows participants to talk through organizational challenges with their peers and leave with action steps they can implement right away in their workplace. Committing to take these steps before the next session develops accountability and trust within the groups.

Impact

For Jason, the most valuable outcome of participating in the program was deepening his skills as a nonprofit leader while building relationships with a supportive network of peers. He learned the importance of resourcing and structuring his organization to position AXS for maximum efficiency and growth over the next two years. Working on issues and questions as part of a larger group allowed Jason to see how other nonprofit leaders had handled challenges similar to what he was facing. Because of his work in the Caucus, Jason now plans to bring on new staff members in leadership roles to work side by side with him, allowing him to take a step back from the day to day and focus on the strategic direction and growth of the organization. He feels confident about the direction AXS is taking and is now even better equipped to steer the organization into its next chapter of growth.

“I am a founder and my nonprofit is growing. Participating in the CRE Leadership Caucus allowed me to see how others were working with their nonprofits, and look at established nonprofit leadership styles and think about how they could be applied to my own nonprofit. It gave me the chance to see how to grow AXS into something more established; I now know the direction I want my organization to take and feel confident in how to get there.”

- Jason DaSilva, Founder AXS Lab