When I was a third-grader in Catholic school, the nuns sadly announced that someone had broken into the school and stolen all of our daily snacks. So, I offered to bring snacks for everyone, since one of my neighbors was handing out surplus snacks up and down the block. The nuns didn't discourage me from sharing. But they soon realized that the snacks I donated were the same ones that had been stolen.
Donna R. Crosswhite has always been eager to share her gifts with her community. That enthusiastic, big-hearted trait she exhibited in elementary school is in her family's DNA.
"My great aunt was very enterprising and was the first of her family to leave Mississippi and migrate to Illinois," explains Crosswhite. "Once there, she devoted herself to providing an opportunity for housing and a new beginning in the North for others seeking a better life for themselves. The countless seeds of her efforts will never die. They can still be seen today in generations of families, including my own. I am forever grateful for her courage and generosity."
That's one reason why Crosswhite is fully devoted to reaching back to empower today's young leaders. She has mentored many students over the years, for example, and recently helped to organize a special symposium for pre-law students.
"When mentoring others," Crosswhite explains, "I encourage them to take time early in their careers to identify what they are passionate about doing, what they are naturally good at doing, and what method of learning works best for them. I think this combination will help develop leadership skills regardless of their chosen profession."
As Director and Senior Counsel for Sprint, Crosswhite is responsible for employment-law advice and counsel, supporting numerous business units at Sprint. In addition to that, she manages Sprint's immigration team and U.S. immigration strategies and policies. She was also instrumental in helping to develop Sprint's social media strategy, and she actively supports Sprint's sponsorship of Employee Resource Groups devoted to inclusion and diversity. She is committed to training Sprint employees, too, ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations while promoting the best practices of their industry.
"Donna's professionalism and high standards provide a role model for her colleagues, her family, and her community," explainsSusan Haller, Vice President of Legal for Sprint.
Crosswhite says that, as a leader, you should hold yourself to core values to which you are deeply committed, show up with unstoppable resiliency and resolve, and empower others to do the same. She also shares these truly inspirational and insightful nuggets with everyone she mentors:
"Be grateful for your gifts, no matter how small," she says. "Remember grace, guts, and God. Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. Never forget where you came from, and accept responsibility for your future. Know your strengths, and improve on them; know your faults, and avoid them; know your craft, your field, and your job — or let someone else do it. Gratitude is the best attitude. Never get caught up in the stuff around you, and take an active role in shaping the footprint that you leave."
Crosswhite is definitely active in giving back to her own community at every opportunity and currently serves on several boards. These include the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, the Advisory Board of St. Louis University School of Law, and the Case Selection Committee for the Equal Employment Advisory Council. But she cites being a nurturing mother and loving wife as her most cherished roles.
CareerFOCUS Magazine and the National Eagle Leadership Institute® salute 2012 Eagle Award winner Donna R. Crosswhite.