To Grow, This Nonprofit Founder Gave Way to a New Leader

For Art with Heart's Steffanie Lorig, loving her nonprofit meant letting it go.

By Christina Kelly

Read related article: How to Retire From Your Mission-Based Baby.

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Steffanie: The idea behind Art with Heart was always to use creativity to help kids heal from and be able to utilize their inner strength to be able to solve their own problems.

TEXT: Steffanie Lorig – Founder – Art with Heart, Seattle, Wash.

TEXT: In America, 35 million children experience trauma before their 19th birthday.

Steffanie: When a child first opens the book, how do we get them to trust the book? What journey do we want to bring them on?

Steffanie: I’ve always loved books and painting and drawing and anything that was creative.

TEXT: Steffanie studied art at Northern Arizona University. After graduation she began a career as a graphic designer. In 1998 she moved to Seattle.

Steffanie: When I moved to Seattle I didn’t know anybody. I got very involved with this group AIGA, American Institute of Graphic Artists.

TEXT: Steffanie was put in charge of community outreach at AIGA.

Steffanie: I wanted to try to figure out how to engage everybody in a non-political way to help kids who were in the hospital and every door that I knocked on was shut. “No, you can’t come bringing your germs into the hospital.” So I went to bed one night and I had this amazing dream that was so vivid and so real that when I woke up I thought, “I know exactly what I’m going to do.”

TEXT: Steffanie decided to create books for children in the hospital.

SOT: They’re going to be going through a lot of dualities of feelings when they’re going through trauma. They might feel a sense of relief or comfort one second, and anxiety and fear and danger the other.

Steffanie: I found community partners, people who were in doing therapy with kids. So I relied on their expertise in cognitive behavioral therapy, narrative therapy and art therapy to inform what the content should be.

TEXT: Steffanie put together a team of nearly 100 artists to illustrate the books.

Steffanie: I hand picked different illustrators for different pages. And I had a team of people who were all volunteers. It was very passion inspired.

TEXT: Art with Heart’s first book was “Oodles of Doodles.” Volunteers used the books to work one on one with young patients.

Steffanie: Books don’t have boundaries. Books can go anywhere. And so where we started thinking we were just going to help our community, it very quickly grew.

TEXT: Steffanie set up Art with Heart as a nonprofit in 2003. She quit her full-time job and paid herself a small salary.

TEXT: Over the next decade, her books helped over 155,000 children cope with all sorts of trauma.

Steffanie: I always said to myself I was going to stay at Art with Heart as long as it needed me. After 18 years, I started to think, “It needs somebody different. I think it needs a different skill set.”

SOT: Art has this magical way of connecting what’s in the head, heart and hands like no other method that exists. My name is Heidi and I’m the CEO of Art with Heart.

Heidi: I had studied marketing and business. I was with Starbucks 15 years. I was running the Tazo Tea business. I took a year sabbatical. I went to Ethiopia and it completely changed my life.

Steffanie: The board was really very interested in growing it past where we had already gotten. We were not looking for a clone of me, we needed somebody different.

Heidi: I was looking to get to the social sector and was looking for meaningful, purpose-driven work.

Steffanie: When I met Heidi, I just saw a completely different skill set, but that was complementary.

SOT: Welcome to Art with Heart. We are so grateful that you guys are here.

Heidi: We had actually a three month transition together. I felt really good that we had a pretty solid plan in place by the time Steffanie left.

Steffanie: I had to step away completely. I couldn’t let fear dictate my behavior. Because if my end goal was to let go, I had to let go.

TEXT: Heidi is implementing major changes to give Art with Heart global reach.

SOT: $10,000 for building the website, basically, on the backend.

Heidi: We are working to raise the funding right now for a learning management platform where we can take our curricula that’s currently in a three ring binder and put it online. I think giving someone the freedom to take the next chapter, and to trust that I’m here because I believe in what Steffanie built. I want to just find ways to share it so it can do more good.

Steffanie: I love that.

Heidi: Good.

Steffanie: It’s fun to hear her talk about it.

Posted: April 24, 2018

Christina KellyTo Grow, This Nonprofit Founder Gave Way to a New Leader