Four Under 40 award honoree Leslie Kane

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Leslie Kane is a proud alumnae of Augustana College where she studied Theatre and Psychology. She went to complete her masters in Mental Health Counseling at Minnesota State University before beginning her career with the Center for Creative Arts Therapy in 2017. She started as a mere Marketing Intern and has traversed her way through multiple positions over the years. She now oversees training students and community events as the Director of Education and Community.

Leslie’s favorite aspect of her role is speaking with students who have just learned about the Creative Arts Therapy field and are excited to find a career path they’re passionate about. When Leslie isn’t educating on the Creative Arts Therapies, she is an actress, theatre director, aerial artist and recently started her own travel agency! She has too many passions to pick just one and is so thankful for the Center for Creative Arts Therapy that allows her to pursue them all.

Leslie sat down with Kaylin Risvold, President and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce for this special edition of Inside the Chamber.

Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?

The number one person that comes to mind is Azizi Marshall, the Founder & CEO of the Center for Creative Arts Therapy. She created something that people told her was impossible and would never happen. Then as she continued to grow and I was added to her team, Azizi became an amazing mentor to me. I knew nothing about business, marketing or networking when I started 7 years ago, but she saw something in me and has been giving me a multitude of chances and opportunities to grow professionally since then.

What are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?

I actually just recently learned a leadership term that perfectly describes how I feel about leadership in general and the qualities that I try to embody when leading successfully. That term is Servant Leadership. Servant leadership is a leadership style that essentially prioritizes the growth and well-being of others. Servant leaders are selfless, humble, and committed to serving the needs of others, whether that be the people they manage or their clients. Rather than the old-school, “I’m the boss, do as I tell you and succeed or else” mindset of the past, they aim to create an inclusive environment where employees can thrive and perform at their best. This philosophy creates successful people and, in turn, successful leaders.

What one thing makes you most proud?

The first thing that comes to mind is my ability to maintain my creative passions while growing as a professional. Despite the demands of my career, I’ve always made time for my love of theatre arts and have been a high school theatre director alongside my role at the Center throughout my time there. Balancing my professional responsibilities with my creative pursuits has been challenging, but also rewarding. There have been multiple months during the school year where I work 12+ hour days going from one job to the next, but making all my passions work together is something I take great pride in. 

This purposeful inclusion of creativity and the arts in my life not only enriches my personal life but I believe that nurturing my creative side has been instrumental in my career success. Additionally, being in the mental health field, it would be remiss if I didn’t mention that giving room to these passions have been an essential part of my self-care, helping me stay grounded, energized, and motivated in all aspects of my life.

What’s the most important risk you took and why?

The most important risk I’ve taken in my career was taking a practically unpaid internship as my first post-masters degree position. After I received my Masters in Mental Health Counseling, I was feeling what I could only describe as a quarter life crisis about my career path. I missed the arts terribly, wasn’t sure I wanted to be a counselor anymore and knew that I was very interested in the creative arts therapies, but had no CAT training. When I moved back home after graduating, I happened to stumble upon the Center for Creative Arts Therapy and saw they were looking for an admin/marketing intern for 3 months. I felt that this was my “in” to see whether the Creative Arts Therapy field was for me and that I could resume my job search or make further career decisions after exploring what the field had to offer. I took the leap, got the role, and after 3 months, a position was created for me and I’ve been moving up in the ranks for the last 7 years!

Host: Kaylin Risvold, President and CEO – Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce

Guest: Leslie Kane, Director of Education and Community – Center for Creative Arts Therapy