(M.S. Management, '10)
Photo and story by SaintA
SaintA named Ann Leinfelder Grove president in March 2018 but her journey to the CEO’s office began decades before as a part-time volunteer coordinator for what was then St. AemilianLakeside. The Milwaukee-based organization provides foster care, education and mental health services for thousands of children, families and adults each day.
Leinfelder Grove’s role in advancing the agency’s strategic direction has helped improve outcomes for countless children and families. She was actively involved in developing the Seven Essential Ingredients for trauma informed care (TIC), and the 5 Pillars of Stability model, which prioritizes relational health along with education, employment, health and housing resources.
She was instrumental in innovating the SaintA TIC Protocol, a proven, research-based approach to child welfare case management. Leinfelder Grove is involved in Milwaukee community initiatives such as Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee (SWIM) and works closely with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to create innovative solutions to support families.
Whether she needs inspiration, business strategy, or both, Leinfelder Grove keeps a small collection of books nearby. Even though she is an avid consumer of podcasts and online news, she still prefers print for her go-to reference books. In fact, she gave supervisors each their own hard copy of "Dare to Lead" by Brené Brown last year. Also among her collection stands “By God’s Providence” by Sister Doris Pehowski, OSF, which is a history of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi who founded Cardinal Stritch University and supported SaintA's mission in various ways throughout its history.
Among Leinfelder Grove’s many titles are “mom” and “grandmother.” The top shelf of her credenza holds photos and other mementoes that keep her grounded in family, faith and other personal values like friendships, service to others, and self-care.
Regulation is Key
One of the Seven Essential Ingredients in trauma informed care is regulation, which includes practices that can calm and focus. Fidgets, stress balls and meditation are examples of regulation in action.
One of Leinfelder Grove’s favorite and most inspiring views is the large tree outside her window—it’s second only to the garden plot in the courtyard just beyond it. The garden is planted each spring and tended by clients from the Clinic at SaintA, an outpatient mental health clinic. Clients and staff alike enjoy its harvest.
The SaintA Way
Four core values guide the staff of SaintA every day. Developed by interdisciplinary teams of executives, leaders and staff, the four values are innovation, excellence, integrity and compassion.
Watercolor Garden, Circa 1945
In her office, Leinfelder Grove keeps one of the oldest relics of Lakeside Children’s Center—a garden map etched into cardstock from 1945. The center was located on the city’s east side but eventually merged with St. Aemilian Child Care Center. Now called SaintA, the agency is set to celebrate its 170th Anniversary in 2020.
MKE—the E is for Equity
Equity is a key initiative for SaintA. Many who want to heal from adversity have the added barriers of historical trauma and institutionalized racism. Leinfelder Grove admires the approach of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was a community builder and change agent as much as he was a protestor and activist.
Innovation is a core value of SaintA and it most often occurs wherever big, bold ideas are welcome. Leinfelder Grove loves to lead collaborative teams and is often the first to pick up the marker and start a new page of flip-chart paper and conversation.