Virginia Home for Boys and Girls Unifies the Agency by Building Leadership, Teamwork, and Communication Skills

group of volunteers gardening

Highlights: Virginia Home for Boys and Girls


  • Direct care staff promoted to management needed to learn leadership skills.
  • Informal leaders, teachers, and social workers needed to improve communication skills.
  • Short courses had to teach relevant, action-based skills rather than theory.
  • Comprehensive, turnkey curriculum that could be delivered in-house.
  • Cost effective and usable for many years.
  • Flexible delivery for groups or self-paced learning.


  • Audience – Managers, directors, VPs, informal leaders, social workers, direct care staff, and teachers.
  • Curriculum The Leadership Journey™
  • Delivery – Self-paced, small groups, and large groups, sixty minutes in length.
  • Facilitation – HR, training, and site managers.
  • Discussion – During group training sessions.
  • Application – Personal action plans were applied before taking the next module.
  • Follow-up – Participants were held accountable for sharing their experiences applying new skills during group discussion.


  • Unified the agency.
  • Cross-departmental communication and relationship development.
  • Built camaraderie between staff.
  • Participants immediately applied new skills back on the job.
  • Improved leaders at all levels.
  • Improved teamwork.
  • Created a fresh perspective on the changes they were experiencing.
  • Consistent language and messaging developed for all leaders.

The Company

Limited Time to Build Leadership Skills

Leadership development takes time—time that many organizations simply don’t have. Too often leaders end up in positions they’re not prepared for. Too often they lack the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to propel their teams forward.

Virginia Home for Boys and Girls (VHBG) was facing this situation, but they knew there had to be a better way. There was.

Impacting People’s Lives

Virginia Home for Boys and Girls is a nonprofit organization that has been serving children in crisis since 1846. In the 1960s, VHBG transitioned from operating as an orphanage to providing transitional living services, specialized education, and therapeutic resources to youth with emotional and behavioral health concerns.

VHBG’s mission is to help children across Virginia with emotional and behavioral health concerns by facilitating the healing process using a relationship-based, cognitive-behavioral approach. Youth receive trauma-informed care in VHBG’s group homes, independent living apartments, specialized K12 school (John G. Wood), and therapeutic resource center.

The Challenge

Finding a Turnkey Leadership Curriculum Flexible Enough to Develop Leaders at Every Level

VHBG was already adept at providing training for direct care staff. Obviously, their ability to effectively serve VHBG’s precious wards is of the utmost importance. But VHBG also recognized another area of critical importance—the development of its existing and potential leaders.

Like many organizations, VHBG’s leaders often came from its direct care staff who had no formal education or experience in managing or leading others. Existing managers, directors, and VPs also wanted to keep their skills continually refreshed. And, VHBG had some other unique groups that needed to develop their skills—the teachers, social workers, and volunteer parents at their school who are informal leaders.

Few organizations have time to develop and deliver their own leadership development training. Virginia Home for Boys and Girls was no exception.

VHBG wanted a flexible, comprehensive curriculum they could implement immediately. It had to be cost effective, and they needed to be able to use it for many years. Plus, they wanted to develop people in-house.

The Leadership Journey offered exactly what they needed—and more.

“The program is so flexiblewe’ve used courses with VPs, directors, managers, social workers, teachers, and, in one instance, our entire staff in both group and self-directed learning.”

Cory Richardson-Lauve, Vice President of Programs, Virginia Home for Boys and Girls

The Leadership Journey™

In-house Leadership Training Teaching Practical Skills That Can Be Immediately Applied

VHBG chose The Leadership Journey for its cost-effectiveness and ease of use. But they also loved that it was action-based, skill-based, and focused on tangible ideas that could be implemented immediately. Not lofty theory, but practical application.

The Leadership Journey’s customizable turnkey approach for group and individualized learning was a perfect fit. They also liked the training modelshort bursts over time to help supervisors and managers learn practical skills.

a young emotional man hugging a mentor

The organization decided to use The Leadership Journey in various ways depending on the unique needs of each of their locations:

  1. Groups of 1215 met together.
  2. Smaller groups of 45 participated.
  3. Sometimes individuals took the courses on their own to accommodate their personal schedules.

Human resources, training, or site managers led the group sessions, which were limited to no more than an hour. These sessions offered the opportunity for useful dialogue and the sharing of best practices.

The Results

Leaders Improve Communication Skills, Change Management and Teamwork Resulting in a Unified Agency

Sharing their responses, perspectives, and experiences led to lively and engaging conversation that offered tremendous benefits—both from a training and a team-building perspective.

VHBG said The Leadership Journey was a great catalyst for conversation, taking them beyond pleasantries to practical solutions. It unified the organization as an agency and illuminated cross-departmental trends.

The Leadership Journey offered VHBG a fresh perspective and generated tangible improvement in leaders at all levels, helping them develop skills to be better in their jobs regardless of their role.

Participants completed courses gaining consistent knowledge and skills—as well as a shared language—that they could immediately apply back on the job.

Whether a long-tenured leader, someone new to the role, an emerging leader, a teacher, or a parent, The Leadership Journey has something to offer everyone both today and well into the future.

The Leadership Journey was truly a wise, long-term investment for our agency.”

Cory Richardson-Lauve, Vice President of Programs, Virginia Home for Boys and Girls

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