Fusion Board Feature: Cathy Hart
You are the co-founder, president & CEO of Slainte Group. Tell us more about the company, why you decided to start it and something you’re most proud of.
Slainte, pronounced ‘slawn-che’ means “good health” in Scottish and Irish Gaelic. Slainte Group provides consulting services for companies in numerous industries, focusing on the overall health and bottom line success. Cathy founded Slainte group with her business partner 12 years ago. “It was born out of a desire to try some of the things and use the experiences we both had to do consulting. When you combine the industries we’ve worked with and the different type of skills we both have… it just seemed like a natural way to apply to organizations.” Cathy and her business partner have both had in-house jobs since then but continue to provide consulting services, including investing in the hospitality space. Her staff includes herself, her business partner, and potential others based on the project at hand.
Supporting their clients’ mission and seeing businesses flourish is what is most satisfying to Cathy. “I am most proud of the fact that we’ve been able to impact and support small businesses and nonprofits who don’t always have the resources large organizations have.”
As someone with a background in executive leadership, strategic planning and management across a number of industries, what made you want to help lead Fusion Learning Partners?
Cathy recognized that even though she didn’t have the government experience other Fusion board members may have, she felt that Fusion could benefit from her wide variety of experience in various industries, leading to an expansion of Fusion’s reach. Cathy also believes strongly in not working in silos. “I have a real passion around creating, collaboration, partnerships, and working across industries and organizations to advance progress in communities.”
From your current role and past experiences, what do you hope to bring to the ‘Fusion’ table? What experiences have inspired you to give back?
“I have a lot of experience in nonprofit management and governance and leadership, and have seen strong practices in other organizations.” Cathy also has private business experience she can bring to the table. She’s worked in many industries, such as government, financial services, communications and marketing, technology consulting, healthcare, academia, energy, and more. Cathy has also served on various nonprofit boards, involving herself in realms such as crime prevention, chemical dependency treatment, and Minnesota Dance theatre (Cathy is very passionate about dance and the performing arts).
Part of the mission statement of Fusion is to inspire innovation for the greater good… what does this mean to you, or why do you believe in this?
“I’ve always been someone who was comfortable with change and innovation, just naturally, but I recognize that change for the sake of change or innovation that causes people discomfort, is not always easy to push forward… It doesn’t always happen in a way that’s comfortable for the world. This idea that it’s both about innovation but also doing it for the greater good, and really thinking about new and different ways to solve problems and through as much partnership and collaboration as we can. Isn’t that what life is all about? Continuing to progress, continuing to learn, continuing to do things better and expand our thinking and expand how we’re solving problems rather than continuing to cycle around the same issues.”
There are many critical issues our communities are facing right now, but if you had to pick one, which issue needs the most innovative thinking and why?
Cathy explained how this was a question she struggles with the most, as she gets very passionate about many critical issues, such as the environment and animal rights.
“My heart tells me to talk about climate change… but I would say we are far past the time where we should be with racial disparity and inequities… The existence of inequity in so many different forms is such a distraction to everything else. When we don’t continue to find ways to break down those systems and create more equality and opportunity for everybody, all we do is limit our potential. We have the technology and awareness to do a lot more about [these issues] and it has the potential to affect everyone.”
You received your degree at Iowa State University with a minor in Spanish – hablas espanol? Your education didn’t stop there – you’ve completed numerous continuing education certifications, including Myers-Briggs. What’s your Myers-Briggs type and how do you see those traits playing out on a daily basis for you?
Cathy traveled to Columbia when she was in her early 20’s and this immersion helped her become fluent in Spanish. While she may not be fluent anymore, she says a trip to Columbia would refresh her skills.
Cathy’s Meyer-Briggs type is a certified interpreter and trainer of Meyers-Briggs types and her type is INFP. “I have a lot of ‘T’ traits and basically what it means is that I am quite introverted, even though I don’t always behave in life that way. With what I do for a living, I tend to go home and just clam up at night to try to reboot… the ‘N’ is bigger-picture thinking. The ‘F’ is people and values-oriented, but I’m also very much a thinker. The ‘P’ part just means I’m an ongoing process-improvement thinker, never really having an end in sight to what I think about.”
As a certified interpreter of the Myers-Briggs test, she says a huge strength for a team is having its members represent a variety of the 16 personality types and the team honoring that.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
“I love spending time with my family, which includes my two boys (9 and 13). They keep me very much on my toes. It doesn’t matter if I want to be alone or not. I love reading, I love cooking… traveling as well. And just spending time outside.”
In regards to travel, Cathy has had a lot of opportunity to travel around the world. She’s excited to bring her boys to different countries, as she understands how worldviews can change as you travel. Some of her travels include a family trip to Europe, as well as Cathy’s trip in her early 20’s to Columbia, South America, specifically in and around Bogotá. This was through a friend she had made at her alma mater Iowa State University. Cathy said it was one of the most incredible experiences of her life, and that she will always have a love for Columbian culture and would love for her two boys to experience it. “I would love for them to scoop up my boys and shower them with affection… and food.”
If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
“I would love to meet the Dalai Lama. I saw him in-person at an event once, and honest-to-goodness, I sat there and just felt calmer. The energy, the wisdom, the perspective that he must have would just be phenomenal.”