Leadership Insights Podcast

Are you a leader or an aspiring leader who truly cares about your organization, people and culture? Then this podcast is for you! We bring you educational, enlightening interviews with today’s most innovative, inspirational leaders. Each episode is filled with inspiring stories, new perspectives and invaluable tools to help you communicate, innovate and lead even more successfully!
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Feb 15, 2017

“Don't ever think that your biggest adversity can't be turned into your greatest gift”

When Lisa says that anyone can do *anything* she knows this to be true from personal experiences. After a horrific car accident she was told she’d never walk again or have children. Through sheer determination and months of hard work Lisa managed to heal her body and defy her doctor’s dire predictions!

Then in her late 30s, as a successful communications executive, Lisa’s life (and career) path took another sudden turn. Her young daughter was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome that seriously affected her daily functions, including sleep. An unexpected healer came to the rescue, persnickety Merlin-the-cat. Witnessing her daughter’s life transform thanks to this incredible bond, Lisa left her corporate job and became an evangelist for helping animals!

In this amazing interview you’ll get to know a leader who has conquered extraordinary adversities with grace, grit and determination to become an incredible force for good in the world! You do not want to miss this moving, inspiring episode!

What you’ll learn

  • How Lisa went from not even owning a pet until her late 30s to running a leading animal rescue organization
  • Fantastic story of how she fought for her first dream job and won
  • How Lisa’s father’s support and guidance has helped shape her character and leadership path
  • Incredible story of how her quirky cat Merlin helped her daughter cope with Tourette’s Syndrome
  • What being in a debilitating car accident and bedridden for three months taught Lisa about life and the power of determination
  • How Lisa affirms and instills the sense of power and empowerment in her staff
  • Tips for creating an organizational culture that balances growth an new programs with ability to pivot in emergencies
  • Strategies for ensuring a successful organizational merger
  • And so much more!

Links & Resources 

About Lisa LaFontaine

Lisa LaFontaine is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA), this area’s premier animal welfare organization. HRA was created when two iconic predecessors—the Washington Humane Society (WHS) and the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL)—came together to form a single more powerful voice for animals. With this historic union, Washington, DC, becomes the only major urban area in the country that has all of its animal protection programs and services—from medical services and adoptions to animal control and humane law enforcement—unified in one organization.

Lisa’s experience and accomplishments in the animal welfare field are a testament to her compassion and commitment and have prepared her well for the challenge of heading up such a unique organization. She left a successful career in publishing after having what she describes as a personal epiphany. Her young daughter, who was diagnosed with Turrets syndrome, had trouble sleeping at night. A counselor advised having one of the family cats, to whom Lisa’s daughter was very attached, sleep with her. This cat, who had never been interested in sleeping on anyone’s bed, willingly curled up with her, helping bring her the sense of calm she needed to sleep. Lisa recalls thinking first that there had never been an animal like this cat and then that perhaps other people felt the same sense of connection with their companion animals. Her commitment to animals and their well-being was born.

As CEO of New Hampshire’s Monadnock Humane Society, Lisa spearheaded a successful capital campaign that resulted in construction of a new, state-of-the-art animal welfare facility and an expanded endowment fund for the organization. In 2007 she was hired as President and CEO by the Washington Humane Society, where she significantly increased the live release rate for animals from one of the lowest to one of the highest in the country. She also advocated for greater animal protection through innovative programs and changes in law and built critical relationships with DC’s diverse interests and communities on behalf of animals in need.

Lisa worked closely with the senior staff and Boards of Directors of both WHS and WARL to lay the groundwork for a new, combined organization that would not just be larger but would also be more powerful, one that could accomplish more for both animals and people. The Humane Rescue Alliance is the result of that collaboration.    

Given her personal and professional devotion to animals, Lisa is dedicated to the vision of a community where there is a loving home for every unwanted animal, affordable medical care for every sick and injured animal, an end to animal abuse and cruelty, and stronger bonds between animals and people through education and training. She believes that the Humane Rescue Alliance can bring that vision to fruition.

When not advocating for the animal community at large, Lisa shares her life and home with her husband, Matt Kayhoe; Sazzy, their pit bull; cats Crystal, Gregory Xavier Pibb, and Harold; and an ever-rotating and always welcomed family of foster animals. She serves as Vice Chairman of the DC Board of Veterinary Examiners and is a proud member of SAWA (the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators).



Jan 11, 2017

“If you're the smartest person in the room you're in the wrong room” - Catherine Meloy

Catherine Meloy firmly believes that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room! She was a successful broadcasting executive when she got the call (literally) to serve as the fearless leader of Good Will. That call - along with her brilliance, commitment and passion - has helped transform countless lives in the greater Washington community and beyond. And in the debate of whether the heart or the head should prevail, Catherine uncompromisingly choses to lead with both!

In this inspiring interview Catherine shares wonderful stories of her parents instilling in her the values of discipline, love and faith. You’ll learn why she refuses to ever be the smartest person in the room and empowers her staff to help translate her lofty 5-year vision into reality. And the ways she strives to learn and grow as a leader, manager and businessperson despite being on top of her game (just read her incredible bio!)

I know you’ll find Catherine’s interview riveting and inspiring!

What you’ll learn:

  • How growing up with a disciplinarian Marine dad and unconditionally loving mom shaped Catherine's identity
  • Why Catherine considers discipline to be the number one attribute in business and the daily habits that help her maintain discipline and focus
  • Catherine's approach to email and boundaries that help her and her team reset weekly
  • How asking "What was really important a year ago?” or “What did I lose sleep over a month ago?" can help stay focused on a bigger picture perspective
  • Fantastic story of why and how she made the leap from broadcasting to leading Good Will
  • Why having a strong brand for any organization is so crucial
  • Advice for mission-oriented leaders on learning important business skills and how to make the time for the learning and professional development
  • How Catherine's spiritual faith informs her leadership style and even culture of Good Will
  • How declaring your values and priorities as a leader creates greater accountability for yourself
  • What Catherine considers to be her growing edges
  • And so much more! 

Links & Resources

  • Good Will – Catherine’s incredible organization whose mission is to transform lives and communities through the power of education and employment.
  • Greater Washington Board of Trade – networking and organization in the D.C. area Catherine recommends for their great educational programs. Having been a member I agree!
  • Global Leadership Summit – “Fresh, actionable and inspiring leadership content” conference Catherine raved about
  • Leadership Greater Washington – amazing D.C. area networking and educational organization Catherine and I are both love and support. PSA: LGW is accepting applications for the next signature program class due in early April 2017.

About Catherine Meloy 

Catherine Meloy is the President and CEO of Goodwill of Greater Washington (Goodwill). Catherine Meloy serves as President and CEO of Goodwill of Greater Washington and the Goodwill Excel Center. She was selected in 2003 by the Goodwill Board of Trustees as a proven business leader who could dramatically extend the reach and vitality of the organization and enable it to serve an even broader segment of the disabled and disadvantaged community.

Prior to joining Goodwill of Greater Washington, Catherine had a successful 20 year management career in the radio industry.

With Catherine’s leadership, Goodwill has grown to over 800 associates; 15 retail stores; annual revenues of $42M, which include nine government janitorial contracts. In further serving and expanding the mission of Goodwill, the first adult diploma charter high school has been granted by the DC Public Charter School Board to Goodwill to open in the fall of 2016 under the title of the Goodwill Excel Center.

Catherine’s involvement in the greater Washington community includes:

  • Board of Directors, Greater Washington Board of Trade
  • Board of Directors, Federal City Council
  • Board of Directors, DC Chamber of Commerce
  • Board of Directors of MedStar Health
  • Board of Directors of SourceAmerica
  • Member of the DC Workforce Investment Council
  • Member of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board
  • In January 2016, Catherine was elected to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Catherine is a recipient of the Greater Washington Board of Trade’s “Leader of the Years Award“; was honored by Washingtonian Magazine as “Washingtonian of the Year“; was inducted into the American Marketing Association-DC Chapter Hall of Fame and was highlighted as a Most Admired CEO by Smart CEO Magazine for her successful organizational turnaround of Goodwill of Greater Washington.

She and her husband, David, who is President of Merit Hotels, live in Annapolis, Maryland and have three grown children.


Oct 10, 2016

“You have to lead by example 24-7” – Tien Wong

What does it say about you if, as a child, you fantasize about an airline being named after you? Or as an adult your proudest accomplishments are the successes of leaders you’ve helped cultivate? For Tien Wong, it says that entrepreneurship and integrity are in his blood and how he defines himself as a leader. In this candid, enlightening interview Tien shares his immigrant family story and what he has learned as a leader and entrepreneur, both through successes and missteps along the way.

What you’ll learn:

  • How being the son of Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs shaped Tien’s path
  • What Tien dreamed of being when he grew up (hint: we almost ended up with TWA - Tien Wong Airlines!)
  • How he learned (the hard way) to grow and scale a business
  • Why it's essential to hire good, even if expensive, people from the beginning
  • What he learned from the common "trap" of promoting technically gifted professionals to leadership roles
  • Excellent advice about importance of process, even for listeners who may not be process people (like me)
  • Difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation or "pull" vs. "push” type of leadership
  • Strategies for successful hiring decisions (including the right combination of brain, heart and intuition)
  • How to know when to train or coach an employee to succeed and when it's time to let them go
  • Importance of a robust employee orientation and coaching structure
  • How to make employees feel cared for - and want to stay in touch - even if you must let them go
  • Why of all his incredible accomplishments Tien is most proud of helping emerging leaders blossom
  • And so much more!

Links & Resources

  • Predictive Index – assessment tool Tien recommends for determining the cultural alignment of employees.
  • NFTE – wonderful non-profit that brings entrepreneurial training to high school students, especially those from low-income communities (Tien and I met through our involvement with NFTE)
  • Glen Ogilvie's episode – Referenced in our hiring and firing conversation with Tien
  • CONNECTpreneur Forum - Tien's community for entrepreneurs based in the D.C. area

About Tien Wong

S. Tien Wong is Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Opus8, Inc., a Chevy Chase, Maryland-based private investment firm specializing in middle market buyouts, private equity and venture capital investment.

The firm seeks to acquire North American call center, CRM (customer relationship management), and outsourced marketing services and technology companies.  Opus8 also makes venture capital investments in emerging outsourcing companies in China with a special focus on tech and services companies in the following sectors: ITO (IT outsourcing), CRM, BPO (business process outsourcing), and outsourced marketing and information management.

In 1991, Tien co-founded and served as CEO of CyberRep, Inc. until its acquisition in 2003 by Affiliated Computer Services (NYSE: ACS). At the time of its acquisition, CyberRep was one of the largest privately held CRM outsourcing companies in the world, operating 6 customer interaction centers throughout the USA with over 2,300 employees and $80 million in revenue. Today, the CyberRep/ACS business unit is one of the largest call center operations in the world, with over $850 million in revenue.  In addition to garnering such prestigious awards as Customer Inter@ction Solutions magazine's MVP Quality Award and Customer Interface magazine's ACCE (Award for Call Center Excellence), CyberRep was ranked in INC. magazine's 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000's "Inc. 500" as the 51st, 53rd, 72nd and 408th fastest growing private company in the USA, respectively. CyberRep was profitable for eleven consecutive years and was backed by Allied Capital Corporation, a $5 billion investment company (NYSE: ALD).

Tien is a recognized international expert in CRM, direct marketing, and BPO. He has presented at dozens of industry events around the world, and has written numerous articles on the CRM and BPO spaces. He has also provided industry commentary on the ABC, Fox, NBC, CNBC, Maryland Public Television, and China's CCTV networks. Prior to co-founding CyberRep, he worked for ten years in commercial real estate finance and investments.

Tien was the recipient of the 2001 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Greater Washington.  An "Entrepreneur in Residence" at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, he frequently guest lectures on entrepreneurship, leadership and finance at the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, and the University of Virginia.

Tien serves on the Boards of Directors of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (, Technology Council of Maryland (, HarVest Bancorp (, Association for Corporate Growth - National Capital (, the Potomac Officer's Club (, and Monte Jade Science and Technology Association ( He serves on the Investment Advisory Board of the Commonwealth of Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology GAP Fund ( He is former Treasurer and National Board Member of the American Teleservices Association (

Tien is Chairman of the Executive Leadership Committee for the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship's Greater Washington region. He is CEO of The Tien and Beverly Wong Foundation, which supports youth, education, and social services charities. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College where he majored in Government.