Latest Event Updates

EoC School a First for North America

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The Economy of Communion offered its first school in North America for students and young adults interested in learning about communion and social entrepreneurship. The school, held from June 20-23, 2017 at Mariapolis Luminosa in Hyde Park, NY, was organized and staffed by the EoC North America Commission. 25 were in attendance, including young men and women from across the U.S., a couple from Mexico, and a number of interns and students from south and central America.

Attendees spoke at the end about their key take-aways from the school, such as:

–Building community
–Gratitude for the opportunity to learn about the EoC
–Matching up needs with resources
–Spiritually rooted practical solutions
–Feeling energized and inspired

In describing some of the steps they  would like to take following the school experience, several ideas were mentioned including:

–Seeking to apply the EoC principles in their workplace, even in non-EoC companies
–Continuing their personal and professional development
–Creating a business plan for a possible EoC business idea
–Sharing what they learned with others
–Becoming an agent of contribution

The school featured several EoC business owners and business professors in higher education as the faculty, and included panel discussions, self-awareness tools, examining one’s personal mission, workshops on EoC principles, and practical steps for bringing ideas to the market.


Is Your Leadership Balanced?

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By Jim Funk

Tightrope Walker Balancing on the Rope
A lot of attention is given to work/life balance these days. But that term suggests there is some magical place where, if we can find it, we are spending just the right amount of time and energy on our career versus everything else.

Of course there is no magic formula for balance, and leaders often find that their work crosses over into many other aspects of their life—whether that means taking work home, staying late at the office, or even taking the laptop on vacation and getting online while sitting under an umbrella at the beach. Granted, the demands of leadership rarely fit neatly into a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday box. Leaders may spend time thinking about their goals, worrying about a struggling employee, or stressing over an upcoming difficult conversation even as they are drifting off to sleep. That is sometimes the work of leadership—to ruminate over problems and generate ideas when they have time to think.

So what do we mean by “balanced” when it comes to leadership, and how do leaders split their time between work and other aspects of life? I would propose that balance isn’t only a matter of how much time is spent on various activities, but it is also about how much mental energy and focus is given to those activities. For example, when you are sitting at the dinner table with friends or family, where are your thoughts? Are you rehashing a conversation you had at work or are you paying attention to what someone is saying to you in the moment? Maybe you’re jumping back and forth, missing parts of conversations while you mentally replay parts of your day. Research shows that the human brain cannot focus well on more than one thought at a time. That’s why the failure to be mentally present is one way leaders become out of balance. It takes discipline to turn work thoughts off when there is something else we need to focus on in the moment, and it also calls for trust in our own capability to address the issue later and not let it distract us in the meantime.

And what about working while on vacation? I must admit that I have exchanged work emails on my smart phone while watching our kids play tennis at our vacation spot. Sometimes leadership and other professional roles are so demanding that a quick response is called for, and we cannot let something wait until we return or have someone else handle it. And yet I would challenge myself and other leaders to make arrangements so that others know when we are not available, and so that we can trust others whom we have put in charge to use their judgment and abilities.

It’s not that I’m suggesting that leaders can or should completely separate work from the rest of their life, or minimize its importance. Work is an important part of one’s life, livelihood, and contribution of talent and skill. Rather, I am talking about balance and focus. It’s about being present with the people in front of us, rather than being a thousand miles away in our thoughts about work. It is also about regularly engaging in rejuvenating and restorative practices, and caring for ourselves so we have the energy and good health to be attentive to all the important aspects of life. That includes taking vacations and finding “down time” when we can put work aside and engage our minds and hearts—and time—in our other needs, and the needs of others.

A danger sign to watch for is negative “isms” that can creep into our lives. These tend to be extreme, and they can get that way before we are even aware of it. Examples are workaholism, dualism, egoism, and hedonism. But what is the difference between a healthy commitment to working hard in a job that sometimes demands many hours of our time, and workaholism? I think the difference is a question of who is in control. Are we really working because we have to, or because we are addicted to the “high” that amazing accomplishments can give us? Are we able to turn off our thoughts about work issues when we need to pay attention to other obligations and commitments, and turn our minds to other things and to the people we love? I suspect there are times when people put undue pressure on themselves at work because it’s become a habit or a compulsion. Achieving perfection can feel good in the beginning, but it can become addictive and pay diminishing returns, especially when other parts of your life suffer.

As I read back over what I have written so far, I must admit it sounds a bit “preachy,” and perhaps comes off as critical of people who work hard. But I am speaking from my own experience. There were years in my early career when I usually worked many hours a week over 40 because I was motivated to do a good job, and I was just doing what I felt was required. Now as I reflect on those years, I can see I was out of balance. I didn’t know how to reign it in.

What can we do to check our balance? Here are some steps, some of which may take courage and an open mind:

  1. Track your time for two weeks, in 15-minute intervals, both at work and outside of work. How are you actually spending your time? When you review the results at the end of two weeks, what surprises you? What would you like to change?
  2. When you are engaging in a project that will take a great deal of your time or cause you to put other important activities aside, ask yourself honestly what will happen if the project doesn’t get done. If it’s a must-do task, explore whether parts or all of it can be delegated. Also check whether the due date is reasonable or negotiable.
  3. Learn to say “no” to work or time consuming activities that are not as important as someone else thinks they are. Every time you agree to do something, you give up time that could be spent on something else. Time is more fixed than money. If you are crafty, you can figure out ways to earn more money, but you cannot create more than 24 hours in a day or 7 days in a week. You can only use it more wisely.
  4. Ask close friends and family what they observe about your work/life balance. Do they feel you are mentally present or preoccupied when you’re with them? Tell them you really want their honest feedback, and thank them when they provide it—even if it isn’t what you wanted to hear.
  5. Do some self-reflection on the aspects in your life that are in balance, and those that aren’t. You can divide them into what could be called the wheel of 8 Fs:

Fitness (health)
Firm (work)
Fun (recreation)
Faith (spirituality)
Faithful Companionship (spouse, significant other, etc.)

Which of these could use some improvement? A wheel that is not round is a pretty rough ride. What aspects would you like to get into better balance? You can’t work on everything at once, but pick the top category or two that need the most attention. Remember you may need to pull back on one of the Fs to dedicate more time to an area that’s been neglected. A coach or mentor could help identify some strategies.

Holistic Leader Competencies - BalancedBalance is one of the nine attributes of my holistic leadership model. Holistic leaders understand the importance of balance, and are willing to do what it takes to achieve it. These leaders also know the importance of modeling balance, because they know that others—particularly those who report to them—will often emulate their work habits because they think they will be judged in a more favorable light by their boss.

What habits of balance are you modeling? And if this is an area of difficulty for you, what are you willing to do to make some changes? I invite you to reply to this blog or write to me at and share your story of balance—perhaps a change you were able to make to become better balanced, and what difference it has made in your life.


Jim Funk is a consultant who helps leaders, teams and organizations discover and develop their full potential. He is passionate in believing that strong leadership competence combined with the leader’s personal characteristics, values and virtues are key to achieving goals and driving business results. In addition to his work at J L Funk & Associates, Jim has served on various boards and commissions, and is currently a member of the Economy of Communion in North America Commission. Learn more about Jim’s work at and or e-mail him at

2017 EoC Summer School & Annual Meeting – Last Chance to Register

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eoclogoalt3The registration deadline for the 2017 EoC Summer School & the Annual Meeting of the EoC Association has been extended to June 10, 2017.

This is your chance to secure a spot at the two events and be assured of onsite accommodation. There are a few spots left and they will be assigned on a first come first serve basis.

You can review the agenda of the two back-to-back events and register your spot now, at the following links:


EOC Featured at the 2017 World Bank Civil Society Policy Forum

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civil-society-logoOn Tuesday, April 18, 2017, we had the opportunity to present the Economy of Communion project (EoC) at the World Bank Civil Society Policy Forum in Washington DC.

This was the first time that the EoC was featured at an event from the World Bank, a financial institution that is part of the United Nations systems and whose mission is to help reduce poverty.

51 people attended the session representing various NGOs from all over the world, World Bank employees, The International Monetary Fund, and the Bretton Woods Project. The session had the title “Impact Investment as a Tool for Social Development”.  Nick Sanna represented the EoC. The other panelists included Marc Jourdan, the moderator, and Jenna Giandoni, a research fellow from an NGO named the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development that was founded by former president Fernandez of the Dominican Republic. Dr. Muthukumara Mani, a lead environmental economist at the World Bank, also spoke.

New Humanity of the Focolare Movement was a sponsor along with the Global Foundation, the International Federation of Business and Professional Women and the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF). Joe Klock, the coordinator of New Humanity, Inc. in the US, is quite active in promoting the EoC at the UN and deserves all the credit for assuring our participation in the event.

IMG_1282The audience responded well to all the presentations that were followed by a very active Q&A session. Some asked questions on impact development and Nick fielded several questions on the EoC. At the end of the meeting, several persons came forward and asked Nick for follow-on meetings in DC. One attendee asked to get involved and will try to attend the upcoming EoC Summer School. The next day, Joe Klock’s contacts from the UN in New York told him that they enjoyed the EoC presentation very much, especially noting the concrete examples that were given.

Joe also attended a session for faith-based organizations chaired by the leader of the World Bank’s Global Engagement faith initiative, Adam Taylor with about 25 attendees. Apparently, the World Bank is starting to engage civil society and faith-based organizations to look for insights into what delivers results in leading people out of extreme poverty. They see these organizations as a vehicle for communicating with people at the grassroots level. Joe plans to continue participate in those meetings and promote the EoC and other New Humanity projects as models of socio-economic development.

The Civil Society Policy Forum have become integral part of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring and Annual Meetings that bring together 10,000 from all over the world.

Learn more about the Economy of Communion by attending the EoC Summer School (June 20-23) and Annual Meeting (June 23-25). You can get more information and register here.


Video of ‘Business Practices of the EoC’ panel at St. Bonaventure University now available

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“This was the best presentation about business ethics I have seen in my four years here. It was realistic.” (student)

“I thought that today’s panel presentation was very well done, and exactly the kind of perspective to which we should be exposing our students. It was right on in terms of our mission: Developing responsible leaders for the greater good and the bottom line.” (faculty)

These were some of the impressions from the circa 150 students and professors of St. Bonaventure University that attended the panel discussion on ‘the Business Practices of the Economy of Communion’ on April 6th, 2017.

If you didn’t get to go and want to watch it, you can access the video via this link.


You can review the agenda and the profile of the speakers here, as well as pictures from the event.

April 6, 2017 – Live Streaming of Panel Discussion on ‘Business Practices of the Economy of Communion’

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Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 8.02.22 AMA panel discussion at St. Bonaventure University on Thursday, April 6, will address business practices of the Economy of Communion, an international business and societal model based on shared profits and a “culture of giving.”

The program, a presentation of the William C. Foster ’62 Center for Responsible Leadership in the School of Business at St. Bonaventure, in partnership with the university’s School of Franciscan Studies, will be held at 11:30 a.m. in Rigas Family Theater of the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

The Economy of Communion (EoC) was started by Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, in response to the social problems and imbalanced economy she found on a visit to Brazil in 1991. Today, some 860 EoC businesses in more than 50 countries embrace EoC’s alternative to capitalistic systems: a sharing of profits to help combat poverty and indigence, and a commitment to work toward a common good.

It’s a topic that fits a Foster Center initiative of providing our students with leadership and scholarship opportunities in the Franciscan tradition, said Dr. Michael Gallagher, assistant professor of finance at St. Bonaventure. “The Economy of Communion embraces these very ideals, and seeks to promote a fraternal economy, a new conception of economic behavior, with businesses not only sharing profits and community productivity, but fighting various forms of exclusion, poverty and indigence,” he said.

It’s also a topic ripe for the times, said Fr. David Couturier, O.F.M., Cap., dean of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure, executive director of its Franciscan Institute, and one of four experts on the panel.

“Ever since the November elections, budget talks have swirled around increased defense spending and tax cuts for wealthy Americans with large-scale cuts to programs such as Meals on Wheels and Medicaid. Some economists are forecasting a rise in income inequality and a ‘class warfare’ between the rich and the poor over the next few years,” said Couturier.

“This discussion will introduce several different economic models to understand our financial issues. We will invite participants to get to know several ‘economies of communion’ and ‘relational economies’ that might help navigate these turbulent economic times with our social, cultural and family relationships intact,” he said.

Couturier, who earned his Ph.D. in pastoral psychology and organizational studies, has written and lectured extensively on the organizational and economic dynamics of religious and not-for-profit institutions. Known for his combined expertise in organizational development, strategic planning and Franciscan education, he has worked as an organizational consultant for congregations, religious communities and dioceses through the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Joining him on the panel is a professor who has spent a decade researching the business practices of companies in the Economy of Communion, as well as the heads of two EoC businesses:

  • Dr. John Gallagher, professor of management, who teaches strategic management and international business at Maryville College, Maryville, Tenn., as well as executive MBA courses at the University of Tennessee. He previously spent more than 20 years as a corporate executive and consultant in manufacturing and service industries. He is co-author of the book “Structures of Grace: Business Practices of the Economy of Communion.” (New City Press, 2014.)
  • Nicola “Nick” Sanna, CEO of RiskLens, a provider of cyber risk management software, and the former head of several internet analytics and security companies. Fluent in five languages, Sanna lectures extensively on the subject of social entrepreneurship and is an advisory board member of the School of Business and Economics at Catholic University of America.
  • John Mundell, president and CEO of Mundell & Associates, Inc. of Indianapolis, Ind., an earth science, environmental and water resources consulting firm founded in 1995 as part of the EoC. Mundell serves on the International and North American EoC commissions, aiding development of the EoC at the national and global levels.

Admission to the April 6 event is free and the public is welcome. The panel discussion will be available for real-time viewing and archived for future viewing on the university’s Ustream channel:

The Foster Center for Responsible Leadership is made possible through an endowment gift by Daria L. Foster, Managing Partner of Lord, Abbett & Co. LLC, honoring her late husband of more than 30 years, William C. Foster. A member of St. Bonaventure’s Class of 1962 and Fordham Law School (’65), William Foster practiced law for 35 years, retiring in 2000 as senior associate counsel for Champion International. He served on St. Bonaventure’s Board of Trustees from 2008 to his passing in 2010.

Learn more about the panel discussion and about the Foster Center for Responsible Leadership at


This article was first published on St. Bonaventure’s website on March 28, 2017. 

Meeting with Pope Francis

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by Jim Funk

31938707243_712b0fa5d6_oI never imagined I would get a chance to meet with the Pope.  When I got the invitation, I thought maybe I was dreaming. As the owner of a business in the Economy of Communion (EoC) network, I’ve run my business striving to follow principles that keep the person in the center of what we do, serve the common good, and attend to the needs of others. Pope Francis has been interested in the success of the EoC model, which is why he invited EoC entrepreneurs to meet with him at the Vatican in February 2017.

Although you may be thinking that the EoC is only relevant for Catholic or non-profit businesses, that’s definitely not the case.  Rather than focusing on religion, the EoC upholds principles that can (and should) apply to all businesses. In the meeting, we discussed how we can drive this message home and make a real impact in the world.

In short, Pope Francis was calling for a new economy. He put the challenge this way: “We must work toward changing the rules of the game of the socio-economic system. Imitating the Good Samaritan of the Gospel is not enough.” (Click here to read the full text of the Pope’s speech.)

Pope Francis started out by acknowledging that contemporary culture does not typically put the words economy and communion together. But he told us that by introducing into the economy the “good seed” of communion, we have begun a profound change in the way of seeing and living business. He said business can edify and promote communion among people, and that the economy becomes “more beautiful” when it’s comprised of the communion of goods, talents, and profits.  Pope Francis went on to say, “Money is important, especially when there is none, and food, school, and the children’s future depend on it. But it becomes an idol when it becomes the aim.” My takeaway from these words is that money must not be an end in itself, but rather a means for individuals and communities to flourish—for people to be able to use their talents to work toward creating good products and services.

In describing the responsibilities of business leaders, the Pope said we need to ensure not only that our profits are used for the good of others, but also that we as leaders give of ourselves. He made it clear that money is only part of the equation. What he said is needed most is our spirit, respect, humility, and a desire to change the structures of the economy.

How can we do this? The Economy of Communion provides five principles for businesses that are a part of their network to follow:

  • Build sound relationships based on mutual respect, care, and open communication
  • Foster participative environments by promoting teamwork and encouraging innovation, creativity and responsibility
  • Build cohesive and healthy organizations
  • Adapt the highest ethical standards
  • Voluntarily share business profits to provide direct aid for people in need, and to develop educational projects to foster a culture of giving

Actually, there are many businesses beyond the 850 or so members of the EoC that follow principles like these, and that have similar statements listed in their mission and core values. And as I have reflected on the message of Pope Francis since returning to the U.S., I feel he was speaking not only to Economy of Communion businesses, but to any business that strives to produce goods, services, and work that are “good” for people and for the world.

How is this accomplished? In every organization, it is the leaders who establish the mission, vision, values, strategic goals, and objectives to produce the desired results. While these leaders must obviously be competent and capable of driving results, I would maintain that they also must be “holistic leaders.”

Holistic leaders bring their whole selves to their leadership role, and they integrate their characteristics into the way they lead. They lead with moral character, humility, justice, compassion, transparency, trust and authenticity, as well as with the absolutely critical functional competencies that lead others to achieve results. These leaders also have the heart of a servant—that is, they have a natural desire to serve others, and to focus on people and their needs.

IMG_1251bThese are the leaders, in my view, who can walk the talk when it comes to implementing these principles, and who can produce the communion of goods, talents, and profits that Pope Francis referred to. But it requires not only a willingness to give; it involves the gift of the entrepreneur’s own person—the gift of self, as Pope Francis said.

How can you implement these ideas in your leadership, or your business?

  • Consider what resonates with you about these ideas, and what would enhance your leadership or your business. Which of the principles discussed by Pope Francis and the EoC would you like to incorporate?
  • You may wish to revisit your mission and values statements, and then identify new strategies or action steps that would align with your mission and values.
  • Learn more about the Economy of Communion, and consider joining. Click here for information.
  • Plan to attend EoC North American events for entrepreneurs and others interested in learning more about the EoC. (Click here for information)
  • Click here to view a short (3 ½ minute) video about the February 4, 2017 meeting of the Economy of Communion with Pope Francis.

Please feel free to respond to this post, or write to me at And if you want to spread these business and leadership principles, please “like” and “share” this post!

Jim Funk is a consultant who helps leaders, teams and organizations discover and develop their full potential. He is passionate in believing that strong leadership competence combined with the leader’s personal characteristics, values and virtues are key to achieving goals and driving business results. In addition to his work at J L Funk & Associates, Jim has served on various boards and commissions, and is currently a member of the Economy of Communion in North America Commission. Learn more about Jim’s work at and or e-mail him at