Special format: Campfire

Topic: Self-Care for Leaders, Teams, and Organizations

Our world is fast paced and ever changing, but resources are often scarce and organizations are constantly being asked to do more with less. We live our lives, personally and professionally, maxed out—essentially leaving no room to breathe. Living and working in ways that fill up of our mental, emotional, and spiritual space is not sustainable. Working this way depletes our internal resources and limits ourselves, our employees, and our organizations from being solution-oriented, collaborative, and innovative. Regular self-care practices enable us to create more space for creativity, unity, and receptiveness. Regular self-care also buffers against reactivity and a constant state of mental and physical arousal. Research shows the many benefits of self-care. Why then is it such a struggle for individuals, leaders, and organizations to make room for it? We must commit to making space for self-care for the well-being of our people and our communities. 

Developing self-compassion allows leaders to work with grace—allowing room for mistakes and learning and growth both within themselves and with those around them. Our relationships with others are directly reflective of the relationship we have with ourselves. If we are unable to extend grace and compassion first inwardly, we will be unable to do so outwardly. Self-compassion is a practice that brings grace to life and provides tools to transform feelings of compassion into behavior. 

We need increased space and consistent grace to sustain the work we do. Optimal personal and organizational growth occurs only when we make caring for ourselves and one another a top priority.

Learning Objectives

  • The parallel process of self-care that exists between sustainable employees, leaders, and organizations, and how this occurs both top-down and bottom-up
  • Strategies for implementing self-compassion individually and organizationally
  • Individual and organizational self-care and self-compassion techniques
  • Barriers to self-care and self-compassion and strategies for overcoming these barriers


  • Stephen O'Neill, chief programs officer Cornerstones of Care (@OurCornerstones)
  • Shelby Clark, training specialist, Cornerstones of Care (@OurCornerstones)

Stephen O'Neill
Chief Programs Officer
Cornerstones of Care

Stephen O’Neill is the chief program officer at Cornerstones of Care. Previously, he was the president/CEO of Gillis Center, prior the merger of Gillis into Cornerstones of Care in January 2017. O’Neill has 17 years of experience working with children, youth, and families in a variety of settings. He received master’s degrees in social work business administration from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. In addition to working at Cornerstones of Care, O’Neill has been an adjunct faculty member at the University of Missouri, Kansas City since 2009. He is particularly passionate about the application and intersection of leadership theories, change theories, trauma theory, and resiliency theory in the social welfare, health care, and nonprofit fields.

Shelby Clark
Training Specialist
Cornerstones of Care

Shelby Clark has been working in the child welfare arena for the past five years in a variety of roles. She currently works as a training specialist for Cornerstones of Care, providing workshops, classes, and presentations to licensed professionals, child welfare workers, foster parents, and the greater community. She received a bachelor’s in social work from Brigham Young University-Idaho and a master’s in social work from The University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Clark is a registered yoga teacher and is passionate about incorporating the body in all forms of mental health treatment. Clark is an advocate for creating peaceful, compassionate, and resilient individuals, communities, and organizations through regular self-care practices such as mindfulness and self-compassion.