Sharing Your Story

This is where you can share what is different in your life as the result of knowing Hildy, and enjoy reading other "Hildy stories" from people all over the world. (Scroll down to share yours and read others.)

Celebrating Hildy Gottlieb’s 60th birthday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what she means to you and the many lives she touches each day. As you think back on when you first met Hildy, what stands out in your mind? How is your life, or your community’s life different due to Hildy’s love, inspiration, nurturing, and questions?

Thank you, Hildy Gottlieb, for all that you have done and what your “being” for 60 years has made possible. The journey continues, taking you to new places, people, and ideas. We can’t wait to see what comes next!

How has Hildy's Life and Work affected you?


66 thoughts on “Sharing Your Story”

  1. Like many of us, I met Hildy online. After seeing her Pollyanna Principles presentation on her web site, I called the office. Dimitri answered. Not long after, my mom paid for me to participate in a consultant immersion program in Tucson. There, I learned a new way of thinking, how to ask questions, how to truly listen, and how to be be courageous in the midst of not knowing. I learned about my own values and how to put them into action. I will be practicing the insights I’ve gained in that week and subsequent weeks for the rest of my life.

    Hildy taught me that my work was less about solving problems, and more about calling forth wisdom and leadership. My consulting successes here in Seattle would not have been possible had I not been able to convert Hildy’s encouragement of me into deep encouragement of others. Here are a couple of examples:

    Right now, I am watching a new model of elder care get born and grow up. It involves moving from senior ghettos to all ages enriched communities that tap into one another’s passions and wisdom. A month ago, one of the octogenarian community members announced that she is transitioning from female to male — from Olive to Oliver. She asked her fellow elder community members to sit down to learn about being transgender and about her choice to live as a man for the rest of her days. Upon learning of his true identity, the community was tremendously supportive, and expressed gratitude for showing that it is never too late to be who you truly are.

    Another story — A group that supports very vulnerable homeless women through their day center used the catalytic strategy process to reimagine supporting women out of homelessness. Defying all of the conventions and strictures imposed by government funders, they became the only day center in all of Seattle aiming “to create an environment that conveys a welcoming culture consistent with our values of inclusion, respect, empathy, and community.” Several years later, this now looks like dedicated sleeping spaces, showers, washer/driers, computer workstations, and a full kitchen to cook food you want to eat. They built a wellness center where women can access acupuncture, foot care, massage, and health screenings. Wellness practitioners are stepping up to provide services at no charge. They are changing the conversation and challenging the inhumane and mistaken convention that says that misery motivates women to move out of homelessness.

    Because of your life, Hildy, people are having the chance to be their best selves. Because of this, life is being made more just and humane for people.

    Just 60 — just getting started. Thank you, friend, for being a patient teacher and for having such vision and heart.

  2. Some years ago, as a first time nonprofit leader, I went searching for tips and tools that would help me in my job. Through Charity Channel articles and postings, I found the work of Hildy Gottlieb. Her philosophies about change and thoughtful questions, fit so clearly with the way I wanted to be as a leader. I felt like I had found a kindred soul.

    Little did I know back then, that Hildy Gottlieb would become my teacher, mentor, and friend. From the first consultant immersion course, my mind was opened to new perspectives and new questions. The practice now known as Catalytic Thinking, has changed me and the way I interact with my world. Hildy’s work showed me the potential for a timely question in shifting community discussions. Personal challenges that initially seem overwhelming, take on new meaning when viewed through the lens of what is possible.

    Through each stage of my learning and growth in life, Hildy has been there. She encourages me to stretch beyond my comfort zone and provides support when I falter. At some of the most difficult points in my life, such my daughter’s stroke, Hildy has been there as I journeyed back to wholeness. I truly can’t imagine what my life would be like today, if I hadn’t met Hildy.

    Have a wonderful 60th birthday, my friend. You make a difference every day and now we have the opportunity to tell you so!

  3. I came to know about Hildy through a friend and colleague of mine, Susan Detwiler. I came to know Hildy as we worked together over several months to design a leadership fellowship program for board chairs and CEOs. What a delightful experience! I love her thoughtful questions and her ability to see past surface issues and see connections that will have greater impact.

    Ripples…that is the word that comes to mind when I think of the impact that Hildy has had on my life. The concepts I have learned from her, like Catalytic Thinking and Listening and “Collective Enoughness”, have enabled me to help others develop and use these frameworks in their lives and in the nonprofits they serve. Hildy’s deposit in my life is like a pebble tossed into the sea of my relationships. I cannot count the times I have shared and applied the things that I have learned from Hildy.

    Thank you Hildy for using your gifts and abilities to serve others! May the Lord bless you beyond your highest dreams!

  4. I “met” Hildy when I was doing my MS in Community Leadership online at Duquesne University. Hildy constantly does what she does best…..challenges everyone she meets to expand our thinking. I suppose my favorite learning from Hildy – and one that traverses my mind frequently – is “What would it take to make (something) possible?” I love the “Community Benefit Organization” concept that Hildy espouses; this wording in place of “nonprofit” or “not-for-profit”. Another mindset shift for me! Thank you Hildy, for all that you do and have done for humankind! Many happy birthday blessings to you!

  5. I met Hildy in June 2015, while her and Dimitri were attending the Next Edge Festival in Montreal. Before the event started, I had the pleasure of welcoming them at a local café near my home. They just radiated warmth and enthusiasm! We only had the opportunity to be together for a few days, but I was truly touched by Hildy’s presence, work, and openness and I felt a deep connection that stays with me to this day. I am regularly inspired by her writing and generosity towards others, and I feel gratitude for her being a part of my world. Wishing you a love-filled 60th birthday Hildy! Hope to have the privilege to seeing you again one day soon XXX

  6. Building connective tissue to create new realities is my mantra and it proved to be exponentially beneficial when Hildy Gottlieb and I connected over social media. Since our first interaction, shared values and aspirations have echoed. As one of the fortunates to participate in a Catalytic Thinking beta series… I have embedded practices that live on through my both work and play. Favorite Hildy phrases/concepts/questions:
    When we focus on the good, we bring out the best
    Undivided attention can be the best gift we can give someone.
    Pause before responding, work the silence.
    Sometimes the most painful things are those that take us to a place of gratitude.
    What would make that possible?
    What would that accomplish?
    What would be different?
    People don’t argue about the “why”, they argue about the “how”
    Create space for people to dream, rather than complain.
    See the abundance, rather than the scarcity
    What would good look like?
    What if that weren’t true, what would be possible?
    Any conversation left to its own devices will narrow into action, rather than allow for context and possibilities.
    What does it take for us to be our best together?

    With immense gratitude for how Hildy has lived her first 60 years and joy-filled wishes for continued meaningful moments ahead,

  7. Celebrating Hildy
    Where to begin?
    • I first met Hildy nine years ago when someone said that I MUST invite her to speak to the nonprofit groups that were supported b the United Way of Fresno County. I did, and for me, instantly everything stopped being a battle against insuperable odds, and started to be a workable challenge that I could actually enjoy. I recognized that I needed to try to keep moving along with this amazing mind and person, and I have. While most of the people she met that week did not follow through, little changes began to show up in the ways they interacted with each other and with their clients, and nine years later, it emerges that some of the most skeptical listeners are regular blog readers and secret practitioners of the Pollyanna Principles. That is the way she changes the future.

    So who is this we celebrate?
    • She has you from the first question she asks. And she will ask a question.
    • She never asks a question that does not open up your world just a little wider, just a little deeper.
    • She makes common sense come alive in rooms filled with hot air and inflated theory, and you will gasp at the clarity of it all.
    • She will then ask your opinion.
    • She may live in Arizona, but you can’t take NYC out of her – blood, sinew and especially, attitude.
    • She has a raucous sense of humor, loves movies, good food and wine and shares the gift of herself generously.
    • Oh, and she makes no bones about it – she wants a better, kinder, more creative world and she will do her best to get that going. Correction: to get us all to join her so we can make that happen.
    • Best of all, she’s a friend.
    It’s all that simple.
    Happy Birthday, Hildy, and welcome to the decades of The Crone (See Ursula K. LeGuin on Crones). All is ahead to be created, and I can think of no one I would rather see leading the charge. Thank you for all the wisdom and kindness and laughter of the past. I can hardly wait for the future.

  8. I was introduced to the force of nature that is Hildy at a workshop arranged by Michael Kumer at Duquesne University’s Nonprofit Leadership Institute. It is where I first learned about the Pollyanna Principals, and I devoured that book. I was a new ED at a foundation and I used it to explore new ways to engage my board in the big picture of how community problems belonged to everyone and that we had enough resources between us to solve them. It changed our meetings and planning, and it engaged the board in ways previously unseen. Since then, I have used Hildy’s recommendations and comments to challenge how I consult with clients, to explore abundance, and determine what community impact really makes possible. I am ever learning from her wisdom. Thanks for your aspirational determination to change our perceptions of how the world can be! Happy birthday, and welcome to the ‘crone’ club.

  9. Only 60? Oh, Hildy, you are still so young! If I look back on my (more than) 60 years, there are very few individuals who made me really sit up and pay attention. Hildy is one of those rare ones. She made me ask questions I’d never considered, or ask them in a way that truly changed the answers in my life. Now, in my work, in my relationships, and in my day-to-day existence, I frequently have “Hildy moments.” I look for possibilities behind the roadblocks that seem to be so much of the focus of our lives. I find myself stretching for that higher potential and inviting others to do the same. Just this morning I was working with a group wrestling with limitations. When they stepped out of their “reality” and began to imagine a wholly different vision for their organization, you could feel the frisson of energy sparking from one to another. At such moments, I thank Hildy for that same spark she lit in me – and in so many others – that realization of the world’s abundance and the endless possibilities that lie within our grasp. All these stories are only a small indication of the far-reaching impact she has had – and will continue to have – for MANY years to come!

  10. I’m 62 so listen up, you brat. How did you touch my life? Profoundly. You’d be surprised. It started with the Diaper Bank Shows with Bobby and the gang. I’d never written a play before, let alone a musical with comedy and song parodies. The gift of friendships from that endeavor are a profound blessing. Bobby, Marty, Dave Sitton, Jack Jacobson, Crystal Stark, Bob Elliot… the list goes on and on.
    Next thing I know I’m hooked. I think I’m a Broadway producer. Now, at least once a year I produce a show in the style of Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion called the Arroyo Cafe Radio Hour. We spend months working on it. I get to be a head comedy writer in 1964 working with Dick Van Dyke, Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie. Sells out the Rialto everytime and is a killer fundraiser and this past spring it was the hit of the Tucson Festival of Books. Markr Russell showed up at one show and told me he was a fan. Thrill of my friggin’ life, Hildy.
    This cartoonist got to live out a second fantasy, that of theatrical producer and performer, thanks to one person. Thanks, Hildy. And on behalf of the hundreds who attend and the horde of volunteers who participate every year, thanks, Hildy. Happy Birthday, punk.

  11. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Hildy through a colleague and now friend, Ann Vermel. Hildy graciously offered her services to our Foundation that led to a workshop for Community Benefit Organizations and our Foundation staff. It was wonderful and eye-opening! It is based on the very real element of respect, dignity and a framework to artfully communicate and listen to others well. Through her guidance, and those in whom she is training, real transformation can take place. I have also had time with her alone and found she had the ability to get to the root of anything that you traverse in your journey- either personally or professionally. Going through one of the cohort trainings, was the most beneficial experience I have had. I am very blessed to know Hildy, to appreciate and integrate her work-her teachings into every aspect of my life. Thank you Hildy! You have changed me… and now onward! My heart is with you as you celebrate this special time in your life, surrounded in love.

  12. Hildy Gottlieb is, and will always be, at her core, a baby just becoming a toddler. New toddlers fall down openly, notoriously, and repeatedly. And yet, as disappointment piles upon disappointment, these beginning toddlers keep getting up, taking a deep breath, and, once again, putting one foot in front of the other. Despite all manner of past disappointments, it seems never to occur to them that walking is inadvisable, unattainable, or just downright impossible. Eventually, this inborn stubbornness, or transcendent persistence–call it what you will–triumphs, and the child begins a lifetime of taking steps to new goals and achievements that would have been impossible if he or she had done the “smart” thing, and quit in discouragement after the fiftieth fall.

    Hildy is the new toddler of the social sphere, constantly having supported the fledgling steps of hundreds of nonprofit organizations, tribes, and individuals. She’s watched them fail–indeed, failed along with them–repeatedly, enough to make any “reasonable” woman strike her tent and go home. But she never does. Time and again, like the toddler, she rises, dusts herself off, and takes another step. Even if this results in yet another tumble, she is soon up and ambulatory again. It never seems to occur to her that the task might be too big, or that the people she is helping might be too beaten down, or that our society might have become too reactionary. And, time after time, Hildy’s inborn stubbornness, or transcendent persistence–call it what you will–lifts people and causes to a lifetime of steps taken toward new goals and achievements that demonstrably improve lives.

    Toddlers refuse to recognize that learning to walk is a highly improbable task that seems likely to end in failure. Hildy refuses to recognize that nurturing agents of change and organizations for social benefit is a daunting task that seems likely to lead to futility. Yet, despite it all, toddlers learn to toddle. Yet, despite it all, Hildy helps transform people and institutions.

    So I wish a happy 60th birthday to our happy toddler, who falls but won’t be kept down, who rises to shed her light on dark places, and who succeeds not just for herself, but ultimately for those around her. We’ve never appreciated your work and your message enough, or needed your example and your achievements more. May you keep taking those steps for many a year more, for your sake, yes–but mainly for ours.

  13. I met Hildy when I was chair of a fledgling capacity coalition in Danville, VA a number of years ago. The United Way I was leading partnered with the Community Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research to bring Hildy from Tucson for some help in thinking about what things like capacity and sustainability even meant.

    Hildy was our “sage on another page” that we needed to hear from. I will never forget the challenge she dropped when she posited the notion that, as funders, we were not modelling the collaboration we expected from our grantees. Actually, I am pretty sure she posed that challenge in the form of a question: “How are you all as funders setting the example of collaboration that you wish to see in your funded partners?”

    Change the questions, change the world. Hildy elevated all of our thinking that week. Now, to see her helping other consultants succeed at challenging our clients is once again setting the example. Her ability to bring competing interests to a table of togetherness is refreshing and invaluable. Thank you Hildy for keeping the torch lit so brightly for all of us trying to change the world.

  14. What is wonderful about being 60, and beyond? That’s a question you get to answer now for yourself! Undoubtedly the world will be a better place for it.

    We use many of your tools on an ongoing basis, both personally and professionally. Your examples of the Continuum of Readiness live with us every time we start a new project, or pack for a trip! It is a concept that is easily embraced by clients and leads to great plans and insights.

    Thanks for being a champion of ongoing pursuits. We acknowledge you.

  15. Dear Hildy. The first words that come to mind when I think of you are fearless and brilliant. I know that none of us is totally fearless but if anyone proves we can come close, it’s you. I have watched with excitement and awe for a couple of decades how you created your vision and unceasingly have moved toward it from every direction. Coming in and out of your orbit, I am enriched by every touchpoint. You are in the midst of leaving a deep and lasting legacy in the world. Which, of course, is epitomized by everything that is Lizzie. Run headlong with joy and dreams into your 60’s and beyond my friend! I can’t wait to see what is to come.

  16. I think that I first “met” Hildy via Charity Channel, back in the days when it was a forum in 2001 or so. I was new to the nonprofit community, having spent most of my career working for a grant-making foundation.

    But it was Hildy’s article, The Sound a Thank You Makes, that transformed my work. In it, Hildy speaks of the trials of running a small nonprofit (the Diaper Bank) and how the simple act of picking up the phone to call donors changed her exhaustion to gratitude. When I published the first Grow Report, a print publication, in 2007, I asked Hildy if I could reprint the article. That article formed the basis for all my work in nonprofit fundraising: *Lead With Gratitude.* I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve used that article as a training tool with boards and various organizations (most recently in Montana).

    Thank you, Hildy. For always leading with gratitude. And courage and compassion. And questions!

  17. There are many things we love about Hildy, but her thought process, her perspective may be the top of the list. Hildy would often take refuge in a second home we own in the San Diego area. She always told us that she would use the quiet time to write and to think. It was always wonderful to follow Hildy into the home as she would always leave a special treat behind. Often it was photography. The subject of her photograph was always every day beach things, sea foam, sea weed, sea shells, sail boat; you get the idea. But the perspective in her composition always gave a different look at that every day beach thing that you had seen a hundred times before. Somehow she would always capture a beauty and a sense of wonder that was far from ordinary. We have framed many of her photographs and still hang them proudly in our home. And the beauty of Hildy is she captures that wonder, that beauty, that previously unseen perspective in ALL that she does. We love you Hildy Gotlieb. We are sure glad your Mom and Dad brought you into this world…even if it was 60 long years ago. We truly hope our paths cross sometime soon.

  18. I first met Hildy when she reached out to me almost 8 years ago when she published her first book and sent me a copy. I found our thinking about networks and relationships overlapped in many places. We became virtual friends, talking on the phone or in the Facebook group she set up for consultants. I don’t think we officially met until some years later when I came to Arizona for a conference.

    Hildy is a cherished colleague who you can explore ideas with but she is also so supportive. I remember one time when she and Demtri took a road trip and came to my city to walk the famous Stanford Dish together. We had an amazing talk and walk, but also witnessed this amazing natural event of a heron eating a mouse … Hildy captured it

  19. Happy Birthday Hildy!
    Your authentic care and concern, open-ended questions, and consistent message has impacted many to create vital and compassionate communities. I can’t tell you the number of times I have asked myself and my clients — what is the highest possible outcome you wish to achieve; what does that make possible; and what are the conditions that if acted upon could make that all happen?
    Wishing you many happy moments as you go forth sharing your endearing spirit with the world.

  20. It’s hard to imagine thinking about community work today without Hildy’s influence. I believe I first learned about The Pollyanna Principles through a colleague at the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations. Hildy’s approach, for not just me but many of us I believe, captured and clearly articulated what was pressing in my heart but had not yet found a ‘home’ in the world. I was honored to serve as the board documentarian for Creating the Future for a short time and to have that opportunity to be deeply energized and inspired by this movement. In addition to being a source of professional inspiration, Hildy is an amazing human being who was so supportive and kind when I experienced personal difficulties.

    Hildy, I sincerely appreciate you and the great vibes that you put out into the world.

    Happy, happy birthday Hildy!!

  21. Dearest Hildy,
    Happy birthday! I sit here a couple of days after the terrible events in Charlottesville and can’t help but think that your work and inspiration are more important than ever. That is, I/we all could benefit from practicing the Hildy-inspired way more than ever. I think I’ve told you before that in my classes, where we read the Pollyanna Principles and other work you’ve written, we almost inevitably get to a point during the class when students and I write or say out loud: “What would Hildy Do”? As I write, I ask myself now, WWHD in the face of the issues we currently confront? Probably, we’d double down on imagining what is possible and working to that end. We’d also try harder to see the best in others and try to be our best toward others. Admittedly, there are times when I have a hard time doing these; but gratefully, you are there to remind me that we can be and do better to create a better world. Thank you for being you.

  22. I am so grateful that our paths crossed several years ago! Hildy, your presence in my life and the world is a constant reminder of the “awesomeness” that already exists in the world and the potential that we can create together when we deeply listen and ask questions. Thank you for modeling for me and so many others your passionate, abundant and nurturing spirit.

  23. Five years ago, I set out to work on a documentary film regarding gender equity in sports. I’d been a journalist for years, but filmmaking was new to me and I needed help in connecting with the right people. Hildy (and, of course, Dimitri! :)) stepped forward to educate me on planning, budget and crowdsourcing. Without Hildy’s in-depth knowledge and incredible compassion toward collaboration and creating, I would have been at a loss for how to get my project off the ground. Hildy not only gave me her professional support, but nurtured me in her emotional support. She is one of the most giving people I’ve ever known, and our society, our community & our future is so much better for having her teach us how to create, shape and share our visions. Thank you, Hildy, for believing in people and making our lives better. Mine is, for knowing you. Happy birthday, Amazing Hildy! oxox

  24. The stage: 2007; early meanderings of my leadership path in the community sector here in Vancouver, BC; just hit my 30s; eager and determined to support effective boards and organizations; google search reveals two resources that I’ve never lost track of: 3 Statements that can Change the World and The Most Important Thing Is…Exercises for Determining your Organization’s Core Values. Both by Hildy Gottlieb (“whoever that is”, I probably thought at the time!).

    Fast forward about 6 years to early 2013, I was returning from my 2nd maternity leave and was intrigued by a short webinar Hildy was leading called “Scarcity to Abundance”. At Vantage Point, we had not long before published our book: The Abundant Not-for-Profit: How Talent Not Money can Transform Your Organization. We seemed to be on the same page 🙂

    Since then, I have slowed down, learned more, and connected differently through Hildy and Creating the Future’s work. Not a week goes by that I don’t consider what something makes possible – and for whom. My colleagues know what to expect when they come to me with an idea, a decision, a debate. They’ll likely receive some follow-up suggested reading from CtF’s blog 🙂

    The practices of catalytic thinking and listening are embedded within, in new ways, as a result of Hildy’s demonstration of her values in action. Hildy’s values in action sparked my parents to open their home on Bowen Island to Hildy and Dimitri one visit to Vancouver. I treasure the opportunity I had to show them a little slice of our heaven, while learning what it really means to think differently of the resources we have available to us in creating the future we aspire to. Thank you, Hildy, and Happy Birthday!

  25. Looking through my emails to see my earliest communications with Hildy, I realized that she and I were two of the earliest Jedi in Steve Nill’s list-serve universe. Back then, in the 2000s, social media was more rudimentary, and communications among professional interested in the nonprofit sector existed largely in moderated list-serves. As one of those moderators, I read every email that was posted on the Nonprofit Law list and decided whether releasing it would produce a Flame war or not. I notices from the beginning that Hildy’s posts were thoughtful, thought provoking and intriguing. Over the years we had opportunities to meet and break breac with Hildy, Dimitri and their daughter, who spent a summer in DC as an intern. From the Polyanna Principles to her suggestions on constructively seeking change in troubled times, my thoughts and experience have been enriched by Hildy’s insights. How could someone so young have had such an impact? I guess limitless energy and a fertile imagination had something to do with it. On your big birthday for such a young woman, thank you Hildy, and as you always tell me, here’s to another year of totally rockin’ the joint.

  26. There’s a place for us,
    Somewhere a place for us…

    You probably know the tune, and the whole song was something of a soundtrack for my life in 2008 – craving a community of practice different than what I’d been experiencing. My search for something different, innovative, new, and inspiring led me to Hildy. Admittedly, I was a lurker at first. I read The Pollyanna Principles, I watched the TedTalk, I read copious amounts of online material. And ALL of it made me smile. Here was someone I wanted to know!

    Hildy responded to this unknown consultant from Canada with warmth, enthusiasm, and, yes, great questions. She introduced me to like-minded (now treasured friends) close to home – Gayle, Jane, Annie. She willingly explored ideas and opportunities with me until I thought my head would explode. How incredibly validating it was to have Hildy listen to me dreaming out load and then respond with “hell yeah, that’s possible! We’re doing that, and it works”!

    As often happens, life threw me a curve right about then. I agreed to serve as E.D. with a local organization whose work I had been supporting as a volunteer for some time. It wasn’t so much a career move as it was a calling. And Hildy helped me shift from consultant to CEO without blinking – some of the dreaming we’d done together had to change, and before long we had leveraged those dreams into opportunities for my new organization, my home community, and the important work of Creating the Future (which was only just re-branding and emerging in its newest iteration at that time). I went to Tucson for the immersion program (finally meeting Hildy and Dimitri in person), met some amazing Fellows, and came home saturated. Next thing I knew, I was co-hosting an Ontario tour for Creating the Future and watching with delight as Hildy engaged rooms full of people in communities here in my part of the world. Wow.

    The road trip that brought Hildy and Dimitri to Ontario also cemented our friendship. I was honoured to host them in my home, get to know them better, and watch in amazed wonder as they spun through Southern Ontario like comets (seriously, they set a pace few could match). Sharing food, laughter, stories, hopes, and just a few wee rants, we made the most of that time. And we lit more than a few sparks with that tour, gathering changemakers and inspiring kindred spirits in support of catalytic thinking and changing the world. The impact of that visit still reverberates.

    Hildy, my friend, you have given me so much. You helped me find that place, that community, and a sense of confidence in what’s possible. I often still struggle to walk the talk, and it’s overwhelmingly humbling to call you from a parking lot when the sky is falling and hear you say “OK, what’s the highest potential here?”. Your gifts to me have included honest inquiry, revolutionary language, spirited conversation, and a learning path full of possibilities. And you have wrapped those gifts in love and wackiness, friendship and respect, encouragement and tequila. Thank you. As colleagues, mentors, and friends go…you rock.

    Here’s to you my friend – with warmest wishes for a very happy birthday (and sloppy puppy kisses from Cooper). Let there be cake!
    Karen xo

  27. I came to know Hildy when I was still an undergraduate college student at the University of Arizona. Even at reasonably young age, I was already cynical and embittered by what I perceived to be a largely uncaring world of rough edges and hard truths… it didn’t take me long to earn the moniker “Nick the Angry Intern”. However, in the scant few years I spent working at what was then called the Community Driven Institute, Hildy demonstrated, over and over, the incredible power of caring people who organize to do good. She showed me that those hard truths weren’t absolute, and those rough edges were just an unfinished surface, waiting for a caring person willing to put in the work to make them beautiful.

    Hildy’s boundless optimism and keen sense of opportunity always amazed me. Even when faced with one of the most cruel injustices you can visit upon a writer (the theft of an idea), she managed to form some incredible relationships and impart valuable lasting lessons.

    To paraphrase a favorite band of mine: Hildy is eternally the child presenting their parents with a fistful of dandelions…seeing beautiful flowers where others see only weeds.

  28. It’s been a long road since I met Hildy on the CharityChannel listserve nearly 20 years ago. Her posts cut through the word chili like a dollop of sour cream – enhancing the flavor of everything, making it more palatable, rich and savory… and cutting the heat. Early in my consulting career, I was asked to facilitate a “visioning session” – something I had no idea how to do. I called her – might have been the first time we ever spoke – and she talked to me until I stopped sweating and had the confidence to do it. At a critical juncture in the development of the Harmony Project, she helped me think through expansion in an open-hearted, non-proprietary way that continues to fuel our national growth. She showed me which props to bring to a board facilitation and what to say when you don’t know what to say. But, truly, the biggest impact her training has had on me is in my personal relationships – how I relate to my kids, my wife, my colleagues and friends. The idea of bringing out the best in every situation through questions is very powerful, and it was a paradigm shift that made a major difference in every aspect of my life. People noticed. And I am happier. Hildy once told me, “You are everything you think you are not.” I am still trying to figure out what that means. But, on this special day, I will sit and clap with one hand until trees fall in distant forests. Happy Birthday!

  29. Gratitude for Hildy.

    I am not articulate on paper when it comes to expressing gratitude. I only know that since 2015, my life has been different because of Hildy. Hildy’s work put structure to the direction I was already going. She added depth to my own understanding of why I was going in that direction. She pushed me – and still pushes me – to listen more; to start by seeking points of convergence instead of discord.

    She models what she teaches. Keep looking up. Seek to understand. Think about how you will be heard. Who will be affected by any decisions that are made? What do each of these people need? Keep expanding the circle.

    Every single day – EVERY SINGLE DAY – I find myself using what Hildy has taught, in my work, with my friends and family, in my personal life. Meeting Hildy and absorbing her philosophy was a pivot point in my life.

    And that’s just the work and thinking side of Hildy.

    As I started to say, I am not articulate when it comes to expressing my feelings on paper. Just, Hildy’s friendship is a treasure, and three memories stand out. Longwood. Winterthur. And Goat. She’ll know what I mean.

    With Love,

    (I also wanted to add a picture…..but maybe just a link….

  30. Hildy,

    When I first started following you on Twitter, which feels like eons ago, I had no idea we would one day become real-life friends. I enjoyed what you had to say, and I have a long history of collecting thoughts and quotes from people who inspire me, validate my experience, or fan my aspirational dreams. Then I read Polyanna Principle, and couldn’t believe we shared so many experiences and beliefs. Meeting you and the rest of the gang in real-time, is one of the highlights of my life. I rarely meet anyone who shares my enthusiasm for potential, and you might actually surpass me in that category. Which brings me immeasurable joy. Thank you for daring to share who you are. Thank you for your huge dreams and inspiring vision. Thank you for encouraging me and seeing me. I can’t wait to see how the rest of our journey unfolds together. Big love to you, and have an over-the-top amazing day celebrating your beautiful and amazing self!

  31. When I think of Hildy, I think of “abundance.”

    When I first connected with Hildy a few years ago, the conversations and spaces she created for us consultants to nonprofit organizations allowed me to embrace the idea that there is “enough” for all of us. I felt reinforced and empowered by the idea that collaboration and community are so much better for all of us than operating from a place of scarcity or competition. There are many ways that this thinking has helped me in my business and in my life – too many to list.

    Hildy also helps me (and I’m sure everyone she encounters) to stay both curious and optimistic, while we go about doing what we do in pursuit of progress.

    I’m so grateful for every way in which Hildy has inspired and motivated me. Happiest of birthdays to you, Hildy! Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us.

  32. My first experience meeting Hildy came about when a group of community leaders came together to discuss the idea of a Diaper Bank in Phoenix. Through Hildy and Dimitri’s efforts, my Early Head Start program was a direct beneficiary. Hildy’s enthusiasm and vision were catching! Although I have since retired, I still follow the vision and work the work of Creating the Future, and thrilled to give a gift in honor of such an amazing woman.

  33. I’m really not sure when Hildy and I met (perhaps in a former life, who knows?). Seems like we’ve known each other a looooong time. I do remember helping move diapers from her old second story office (the first diaper hurl?) over the railing to waiting volunteers loading them into vehicles to transport to (finally!) a warehouse of some sort. After volunteering for many diaper drives, sitting on various meetings to share ideas on myriad topics, I somehow become a board member of the Diaper Bank, and eventually chair of that group. It was hard work and extremely fulfilling. This was when Hildy and Dimitri were weaning themselves from the Diaper Bank to go onward and upward to new and exciting things. I know Hildy to be a loving, caring (wicked smart) person, with a deep spiritual side that just keeps her going (and brings everyone around her into her vortex). A Hildy hug after being apart for some time is special thing and worth the wait. Not only do I think of Hildy as an awesome person, but also as a deep thinker, prolific writer and force for good in our world. The planet needs more Hildys! So, happy birthday, sweetie! Continued success in all your endeavors!

  34. In Japanese cartoons, when a character faces a situation, an angel and a devil show up & offer their perspectives. Sometimes the voice of angel is more evil than devil’s in these cartoons, but these inner voices are a compass to journey through this world.

    I have only spent a few days with Hildy, but ever since I met her, one of these inner voice is her. Faced in a situation, I can hear her voice: “It’s always about people. It’s never about the thing.” “Remember, our power to create a change lies in our path to create conditions.” “How do we bring best in …..?”

    And the voice has this quality of warmth and authenticity which sets your mind in a state to think holistically. It frees your soul but rooted. It’s a greatest gift anyone can give, and I hope I can pay it forward.

    I’m grateful to get to know Hildy and appreciate her work. I look forward to spend one afternoon over a cup of tea in a near future. 祝 還暦!

    (And I thank Dimitri for inviting us to be a part of this celebration. Thank you, Dimitri. Hope to see you again too).

  35. What I love most about Hildy is NOT the EXTRAordinary…it’s the ordinary, which many aren’t necessarily privileged to experience…
    Redi-Whip, little girls in pointy cowboy boots, and angels that don’t get left behind in Indian Wells. Welcome to our 7th decade, my friend! Kisses on your face from up above and down here below.

  36. Hildy you have the ability to connect globally. I read your work for years and was struck by its simplicity, humanity and practicality. I remember the first time you and I spoke my phone. You are truly impressive. Attending the training with Dimitri and you was life changing. It made flying from London in England worthwhile. So here is to wishing you an amazing 60th birthday, celebrating you and lifting a glass to many more years of your brilliance and excellence. Much love, Tesse

  37. Paths have a way of winding themselves to where they need to go. Ours started in a small restaurant in Baltimore more than a decade ago while you were Friendraising. And oh the friends that have risen since.

    It took 5 years for the conditions to be right to create the change I needed, but once our paths re-crossed, I found a way to move to a place that I had wanted to be in for 20 years and finally understood what causality really means.

    Thank you for opening my mind, giving clarity to insights, and helping me understand that getting at what works is possible.

    My path is now filled with passion, dedication, meaning, and direction. While it still meanders and goes places that are challenging for us and others, it is worth it.

    History was not made by people who wanted to “make history.” It was made by people who envisioned the world they wanted and began living their lives making that possible in the moment.

    Thank you for helping me understand how we create our future today, identify our assumptions openly, and challenge what is as simply that – what is – not what will be.

  38. I first met Hildy in 2006 when her and Dimitri hired me out of college to be their office assistant at Help 4 NonProfits in Tucson, Arizona. Imagine walking into an interview with Hildy & DP, having a wonderfully fun conversation, seeing photos and mementos of the friends they’ve made along all of their work travels, and having the feeling you were already home. When they called me to offer me the job I did the biggest happy dance in the hallway outside of my class. 🙂 I worked there for just 2 too-short years before moving away, but little did I know this was going to be more than just an office position. This opportunity Hildy gave me impacted the direction of my career and my personal relationships and continues to today.

    Working with Hildy is incredibly empowering! Your opinion is immediately regarded as equal weight at the table, no matter how junior you believe yourself to be. You are encouraged to see out experiences you want to have to define your work, be an architect on what you believe your job to be and she supports you in making that possible. She models what it means to build authentic relationships, encourages creative thinking and teaches us all to stop and marvel in the art present in our lives.

    Learning from Hildy is transformative and inspiring! From watching the way she worked with organizations and boards firsthand to participating myself in the Changemakers Immersion Course, learning from Hildy is a masterclass. From asking the right questions of each other and starting with the greatest potential in any situation, Hildy’s work has been the source of incredible impact and fast growth across organizations worldwide. And the principals of Catalytic Thinking are something I still work to practice myself in my work, peer groups and relationships.

    Being Hildy’s friend is a true gift. She is generous, thoughtful and hilarious. Belly-laughs are a given when in her company! And from staff lunches, to a packed house at her famous Chanukah celebrations, she never misses a minute to express gratitude to those she loves. We should all love as fiercely as Hildy. And even when it’s been too long since we’ve seen each other, I treasure the times we can dive back in like time hasn’t passed – often over plates of Mexican food and homemade salsa. 🙂

    We had a joke back in the Help4 days, that we’ll never find another job like this. And it’s true! I haven’t. That’s because it wasn’t just a job but a family. This small moment in time that Hildy, DP, Nick and I were the Help4 family is a time I treasure so much. And that was just a moment in a whole lifetime of family relationships that Hildy has fostered over the past 60 years.

    So Hildy, on your 60th birthday I hope you are enjoying your worldwide family reunion! I love you and miss you tons. Hope your birthday is totally and completely FUG! (Fun, Upbeat and Goofy!)

  39. After 5 years as list-moderators for Charity Channel’s listserves, a group of us decided to meet for the first time face-to-face at a conference in San Diego. After the conference, we went to Palm Springs for a couple of nights at the home of Renata Rafferty.
    We all knew each other pretty well after years of sharing ideas, jokes, and cute animal photos, but I would never have imagined that 15 years later, we would still be connected by deep bonds of friendship and caring. In that time, three of us have lost our beloved partners, and Hildy was always there to support us through the losses. She has served as a connector of like-minded people across the continent and internationally. She has asked questions that no one else thought of that led to amazing discussions, and rethinking of conventional wisdom.

    Hildy! My very best wishes on your birthday. I know you will keep up the working for compassion and justice in our communities.

  40. I first met Hildy when I put my feet on the back of her chair in a 7th grade Home Ec class, and we’ve been best buds since then…. 48 years (and counting)! We have been a part of each other’s lives, both celebrating the highs and healing the lows. It’s been the kind of friendship where if we don’t speak for a few months neither of us worries because when we do reconnect, we can pick up mid-sentence.
    We all know Hildy is a writer. She’s been writing ever since I‘ve known her, so let me share something she wrote about me many, many years ago because now I’d like to turn it around and also make it about her….
    “….I often wonder what life would be like without you-
    without someone who knows me as well as I know myself – or better;
    without someone who can tell the difference between my dreams and my realities –and who knows she can trust me with the secrets of the world.
    And then I look to the sky and ask God to bless you, my sister, my friend.”
    Happy birthday, Hil….
    With love,
    P.S. I’ve been reading all of the wonderful stories people have written to and about you, and my heart swells with each anecdote. What a wonderful tribute.

    Celebrating you with the world is something in my heart every day. Today just adds additional joy and much love as we celebrate your 60th year living your life journey to the max and sharing so much of who you are so selflessly to the world. The gifts you so graciously share out to the world are some of the richest gifts I have ever received. The research, testing, practicing and sharing that ripples from you and Creating the Future allows us all to be a part of creating a more humane world. This daily practice of changing the questions, changing the world…never gets old and it can be experienced/practiced by anyone, bringing with it great energy, hope, joy, and trusting relationships. It helps me each day to ask some of the questions you share…What does it take to be at my best and how can I create the space for others to be at their best? What has been the best part of your day? What if your assumption isn’t true…what would that make possible? You have helped me THINK again, reach for what is possible and fully participate in my numbered days on this earth.

    Our paths began to merge, unknowingly, 10 years ago as Deb Loesch Griffin was placed in my life to give guidance to our young community benefit organization, The Mentoring Network, Inc. She so intrigued me with the questions she asked. She brilliantly guided us to our answers focusing on what great would look like for our organization and stakeholders and what would be different if we were 100% successful. It was so comfortable and we quickly built a long lasting, trusting friendship. I had no idea that she was a fellow with Creating the Future back then, but what I did know is that she was an authentic human being pursuing and sharing her strengths and talents with the world in the most beautiful way. We could never have imagined the ripple that began so many years ago.

    A few years later I was blessed to hear you as a keynote speaker at the Idaho NonProfit Center Conference. I felt a close connection with you from afar, but still didn’t really understand why. Your words made a direct impact on my Being. I took the time to go up to you and thank you for sharing and to shake your hand.

    A few more years passed and Deb Loesch Griffin did a long distance warm introduction to another beautiful Being, Rebecca Hurd (Creating the Future fellow). We met, connected quickly and deeply, and ended up on a road trip together to attend the THRIVE conference in Virginia City. This was the culmination of all this interconnectedness…you and Dimitri were there to present to this true community gathering and the term ‘collective enoughness’ was modeled throughout. We had moments on the porch, drinks, food, friends, lots of real conversation with a focus on what great looks like for the greater community and I finally began to realize why you had made such a direct impact on my Being many years prior. I felt hope and renewed energy as I focused on all that is possible. As Rebecca and I drove back to Idaho she asked so many simple, but effective questions as we talked about life.

    Hildy, you and the practice you teach and model have been a big part of intensifying who I am and what I want to give back to the world. You, Deb, Rebecca, Dimitri and others involved with this movement have gotten me to look up to the greater impact each of us has on this world. You have helped me hear people and their stories rather than making assumptions without the facts. Because of you and this practice I am learning ways to eliminate emotion in my decision making, to pick and choose what I fill my life with by asking, “What will this make possible? And, “For whom?” (This one includes me!) I have learned to look at other things before money and to see our communities as places filled with abundant resources. Each of these questions creates balance to my life. They allow me to see the BIG picture and look for the things most people agree on. They have allowed me to hear at a deeper level helping me to identify people’s strengths, values and outcomes. I now look at ‘community’ first and can see that my little passion piece is a valuable part, but just a part of a much greater interconnectedness that can truly change this world for all.

    Thank you for placing value on time given for face-to-face, human connection and the immense value it brings to all aspects of our lives. I cherish my ‘porch time’ with other humans Being. Loved this equation: porch + listening + the sound of water = heaven!!

    I want you to know that I feel a great responsibility to practice and share all I learn from you and Creating the Future…because we know this stuff works!! This gift from you is a gift that I can just keep on giving!!

    Much love, deep gratitude, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY…Donna

  42. Happy Birthday, Hildy! I believe that the best way to describe your impact on me is to share that, after 9 action-packed years of knowing you, catalytic thinking and strategy are firmly embedded in how I live my life, every single day. They are part of the foundation of my being, and I know they always will be. This is the best tribute I can think of, that you know your efforts have hit fertile ground and continue flourish. To have led someone to that kind of personal evolution is surely to have achieved the greatest kind of success. I can’t wait to see how the next 60 years unfold for you! Undoubtedly they will be filled with the same passion, joy and zest for life. Again, Happy Birthday to you!!

  43. “What would this make possible?” This simple question from Hildy has helped re-shaped my thinking and set a new course for our foundation’s future. Hildy was the catalyst that started the transformation of our organization from a traditional philanthropy to a changemaking organization. Hildy’s spirit and influence is infused in our work. She continues to help us and so many others envision and create a better future, even in these difficult times. Thanks, Hildy for sharing your love, light and joy. All of the crew at Rotary Charities sends you best wishes for many, many more happy birthdays.

  44. Dear Hildy,
    Sending lots of warm wishes for a very happy birthday! It is a milestone and yet there are many more years ahead in which the world will hear about your work and spread your passion and commitment in ripples to creating a future which we can all share and flourish no matter where and who we are.
    I first ‘met’ you through youtubes and your website and books and introducing my Australian non-profit students to what one of them called ‘that crazy American woman with the long hair’! I have since had the great pleasure of being part of your BETA online courses and meeting you and Rebecca and everyone else has been one of the joys of the last couple of years, linking with you all on the other side of the world, experiencing your passion and your ‘being’ that catalytic thinking person, as opposed to my still practicing! I will be channelling you on Wednesday night when I speak about Conscious Leadership to students and business people at Murdoch University, it will be your ideas that have become my practice that will be offered to them to take up and spread them even further. You are always welcome when you come to Australia!

    Have a wonderful birthday and THANK YOU!

  45. As I hung up the phone after a call with Hildy, my wife, having only heard my side of the conversation immediately asked me: “Whoa! What just happened? You’re so inspired! Who was that?” That? That’s Hildy.

    My first lesson from Hildy came as we were building StartSomeGood, a crowfunding site for changemakers. We initially asked those raising money on our site two questions: “What’s the problem you see in the world?” and “How are you solving it?” Through the power of asking the right questions herself, Hildy got us to see that we were asking the wrong questions to our changemakers. We transformed the questions to instead be: “What is the future you are creating?” and “How are you creating it?” The difference might seem small — but the impact on the team, on our changemakers raising funds, and on the spirit of the site fundamentally changed forever as a result.

    Hildy’s taught me the power of asking the right questions. But perhaps no question is more important than this one I constantly ask myself in difficult situations: What would Hildy do? I’ve found that even if I don’t know what to do in a given situation, if I can channel what Hildy might do, I usually find myself on the right path.

    Cheers to Hildy– to all of the amazing people whose lives you have touched thus far, and all to come. Happy birthday!

  46. Dearest Hildy,
    Surprise and happy birthday you amazing and beautiful human!

    Close to two years ago you invited me to come alongside you to co-direct this grand and glorious experiment that is Creating the Future. And I will forever be in a pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming state. I kept asking for “more, please” and you delivered.

    Because of that invitation, I have the joy of being with you most days of every week. On the days we don’t see each other, we’re checking in and texting photos of what we’re breathing in right at that moment.

    You are my teacher, my partner and my friend. In every conversation we have – whether it is work stuff or talking about life – I learn. My brain regularly hurts and I thank you for that.

    Because of you, my every single day is different.
    Because of you, I have my Catalytic Thinking practice as my way of being in this world.
    Because of you, my life has more joy, and I have healthier relationships with the people I hold close and love dearly and with myself.

    And for you, I offer my steady support and love. I’ll continue to ask what I can take off your plate, so that your brilliance can shine. And yes, I’ll remind you “Hildy, you know you wrote something about that already…”

    Wishing you much joy today and every day.
    With deep affection & gratitude,
    Rebecca xoxo

  47. I first met Hildy in 2014, as many other did—online. I was new to an online community of nonprofit consultants, and Hildy reached out to connect. I marveled then at the kindness of her gesture, which in turn opened the door to all sorts of subsequent conversations. Although we’ve never met in person, I have grown to think of Hildy as a friend and kindred spirit. Her approach to the world, and her intentionality in navigating it, resonates with me on a core level.

    Two words spring to mind when I think of Hildy: generous and thoughtful. Hildy is extraordinarily giving of her time, carving out ways to hold space and be present for others. She is giving of her experience (I think she would prefer to call it that over “expertise”), and is a mentor to so many people, in ways that she’s probably not even aware of! She’s thoughtful in both senses of the word. She’s quite literally full of thought—constantly tangling with questions of purpose, of finding joy and meaning, of tackling conflict, of growing possibilities. And at the same time, this woman full of ideas is grounded in her relationships with others, a fact that is routinely expressed in the other type of thoughtfulness she possesses—an unyielding awareness, kindness, and compassion for other people.

    I have grown tremendously from my relationship with Hildy, both personally and professionally. I can honestly say that what I’ve learned from her has made me a better wife, mother, friend, and colleague. Her guidance and insights have shaped the thinking and sense of possibility I bring to my work, and pushed me to continually refocus on the people, and not “the thing.”

    I recently stumbled upon this text I sent to Hildy in 2015, and it rings just as true today as it did then: “What a gift to me to have gotten to know you, both virtually and via Hangout/phone, over the past few years. Please know you are shaping the people you touch in all sorts of ways. And getting them to ask questions of themselves and others that they might not otherwise, had they not crossed paths with you.” Happy birthday, Hildy!

  48. Kia ora Hildy – you are truly a kuia (female elder) – and not just because of your great age (smile), but because of your wise leadership. It is an amazing thing to meet someone who so completely and deeply reflects the most profound of your thoughts and the very best of your intentions. E hoa ma, ina te ora o te tangata
    (my friend, this is the essence of life).
    I was amazed when we first met on-line. How someone could truly be my soul mate – so similar in our approaches to almost everything, a spiritual doppelganger. Even my most ‘way out’ thoughts you had, but were usually able to express in a more coherent and memorable way. My very best fleeting insights, you applied in practice with such consistency. My most bizarre seeds of ideas you had, but you were able to carefully plant and faithfully nurture so many of them. I am so glad that the fragile ribbons of our lives have been able to cross and maybe even weave a little pattern of hope across the globe. Who else could mix together such a potent recipe of strengths-based approaches with chaos and systems theory, and a healthy seasoning of Mitzberg. No need to explain the difference between Vision and Mission. No need to justify why Strategic Planning was an oxymoron, and why a culture of Generosity always wins over a Scarcity mentality. No need to spell out why you need to begin with the end in mind, even though Culture can eat Strategy for breakfast.
    It was indeed a long time before we actually met kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face), and then only twice – first in Auckland, then years later in London (where we could serendipitously — my auto-correct kept wanting me to write surreptitiously, but I kept resisting — introduce to each other people who were very important in our own lives). Both intense and exciting experiences. But somehow that doesn’t seem to matter, and magically I count you as one of my most important mentors, colleagues, and friends – even when most of our contact is by magical electrodes dancing down wires or jostling through the air.
    To have met you, let alone to have known you, let alone to be able to count you as a friend, is a wild and rare experience. He kotuku rerenga tahi (a white heron flies by once). Happy birthday Hildy, with much love and deep appreciation – Garth

  49. As a lifelong student of democracy, it is both frustrating and rare to find people whose work directly impacts and inspires how democracy happens in our communities. Hildy is one of these people. An oft-forgotten dimension to democratic decision-making is control over the agenda: who sets the agenda? how? what discussions, deliberations, and decisions does the agenda make possible? who gets to decide what to decide? Framing the issues to be discussed, and the agenda, is often neglected in the process to empower individuals with democratic decision-making.
    Hildy’s focus on asking the right questions, and spending time to come up with the right questions, speaks directly to this issue. Her focus here has equipped me with the confidence and tools to tell inspire others to focus on how the discussion is framed, and the questions and assumptions underlying the discussion. And on a practical basis, to spend time coming up with the right questions for deliberation! This is so important to how democracy happens in our communities (I’m not talking about democracy at the voting booth) – thank you Hildy for the inspiration to focus here, and practical tools to do it!

  50. The sun is giving us all its own special light celebration for your 60th birthday! How fitting for a celestial event that causes us all to pause and consider the universe on this special day of yours.

    It still seems like yesterday some days when many of us found each other on the AOL consultants listserve. As a newbie to consulting back in 1996, I found the advice of my peers so incredibly helpful. And in that virtual world found lifetime colleagues and friendships.

    I celebrate you, Hildy, whom I can always count on you to push my thinking at least one if not many steps farther ahead. Thank you for your questions both big and small. For that I am forever grateful.

  51. Two big things. The hug. And the eye connection that says “I am listening to your words and I am hearing what you are saying.” So important. And although there really is no person who compares to you Hildy, in this regard I felt the same from only one person I’ve met and talked to. Fred Rogers.

  52. Hildy…

    What did it take…?

    We began online in 2006/7. I found your Founder’s Syndrome work a support to a Philanthropic project I was working on here in Canada, and then I couldn’t get enough, and I hounded you for more. After emails and phone calls, you graciously welcomed me to Tucson back in June 2008 – our first time meeting face to face… and the rest is history.

    The last 9 years have been marked repeatedly by each of us willingly getting vulnerable in the company of others, one way or another, around a table for days. Whether that table has been physical or virtual, we have grown to be more than colleagues. We have been fellow travellers on parallel paths toward making the world a better, more humane place, and along the way we have been companions to each other.

    Please know that I will always cherish how we have been able to champion each other, and assist each other’s dreams into reality. I will forever cherish the regular Skype and then Zoom Meetings, both one on one and regularly participating with you and other colleagues, some of whom are present here – those whom I now have the honour of calling my friends.

    What it continues to make possible…

    The community you had the vision for, and the courage you had to mid-wife it into being, continues to evolve and grow. It has touched my heart, and encouraged me further, into ways of being that have become a part of the day to day movement of my life… It has been a journey deeper into the Principles that have joined together with the other Practices that are forever touchstones for me, and are as familiar to me as my own breathing.

    Happy Birthday Hildy… May today be filled with love, laughter, and LIFE, as you read all that is here for you! May you continue to ask the questions that touch your world and other’s worlds, and continue to be as much a gift to others, and they to you, as you have been to me, for many more decades to come!

    In Spirit, Trae

  53. What are the odds that one of my mentors (and most favorite people in the world) would be celebrating her birthday on the same day as one of the most magical and awe inspiring celestial events?! Well, they would be about certain if you’re talking about Hildy.

    I have learned so much from you Hildy and words can’t do it justice. I was a young college kid when you interviewed me for a chance to be your intern. I didn’t have much (any) “real world” business experience. I could only speak to my previous job which was working (for free) in my Dad’s metal shop. I remember that I was almost apologetic of my lack of experience in my interview. I had convinced myself that cutting sheet metal for my dad’s struggling small business wasn’t the type of background someone would be looking for. I was wrong.

    During the interview you told me that working (no matter the job) is valuable experience. It’s experience in responsibility, pride and contributing to something greater than one’s self. You also told me to never ever sell yourself short. Yes, even during the interview to be your intern, you were teaching me invaluable life lessons.

    Through that college internship and beyond, you continued to teach me important skills and lessons. Many of the lessons learned where through observing you. I saw the passion you have for helping others and the wicked smart consulting mind you have to make positive change happen.

    I have a lot more experience now. I have experience in helping make the world a better place. How? I worked for Hildy Gottlieb!

    Happy Birthday and thanks for everything!

    Your eternal intern and friend,

  54. Hildy and I worked together many moons ago, when she and Dimitri were involved in their diaper efforts. Not being a parent myself, I had no idea that lack of diapers was a big problem. The way she explained it to me — without judging my lack of understanding — helped me see the big impact of the smallest things. She really cares about people and making the world a better place. Happy Birthday Hildy!

  55. Your friendship has been so terrific and has helped me to strive to be better and push myself to do more. I am amazed at all the years that have flown by so quickly. Seeing your photos with long hair and remembering the Diaper Bank reminded me that it has been a long while that we have been friends. I am so lucky to have such a good friend in you as well as Diana and Nanette and how together we enjoy wine (and a little whining) at the AZ Inn. We always say we will meet more frequently than we do but somehow our lives get crazy and it is hard to schedule the time but it is definitely worth the effort for us to catch up. I was always so proud of your efforts at the Diaper Bank (it was such a worthy cause that you identified as an important issue locally and even nationally). And now Creating the Future. You are definitely making Tucson and other communities better places and making us better people. I am pleased to be part of your life. Plus I think of you and your mother frequently as I sip my nightly glass of wine from her crystal glass. Love you. Priscilla

  56. When I think of Hildy and my knowing her over the years, one of the words that comes to mind is “sanity.” No matter what chaos or confusion seems to be circling me, she is able to find a still point and start the process of reasoned thinking. I love that. Well, at least in hindsight I love that. Being a “let’s get to the punch” kind of guy, I don’t always appreciate her “what do you mean by that?” questions up front! But then I remember I’m a Franklin Covey coach who tells HIS clients, “Begin with the end in mind.” Hildy is one of a kind and yet is able to share her brilliance in a way that makes others brilliant too. Thanks, Hildy! Our lives are richer – as is our world – because of you.

  57. Hildy,
    My focus at every meeting both personal and professional is forever changed by these eight words – What does this make possible and for whom? Your gift of “cut-to-the-chase” clarity has had a ripple effect for change-makers all over the world. We thank you for sharing your gift with us.

    Love Always,

  58. I met Hildy when I was Chief Development Officer at the Community Food Bank. She and Dimitri worked with our board around the “Pollyanna Principles.” I was amazed at Hildy’s originality, kindness, patience, and brilliance. Since them, I’ve continued to be awed by her willingness to admit when she makes a mistake, to back off if she has overstepped, to make herself vulnerable, to reach out, to be real. Hildy, through her Catalytic Thinking classes and just by being herself, has helped me grow, think, and change some of my beliefs. And what’s really cool is that I’ve been able to use some of her questions and practices in my personal relationships. Thank you, Hildy, for helping me be the best me I can be! It’s sometimes a struggle, but with your tools, I am always hopeful.

  59. From our first encounters on CharityChannel and in San Diego, I’ve watched a woman who could articulate my views far better than I, put them into practice far more than me, inspire far more people and create a ripple effect around the planet that will keep changing the world for the better, forever. I owe Hildy a tremendous debt of gratitude for her warmth, encouragement, tireless sharing of herself, and brilliance. Her commitment to caring more about the world than about financial returns or credit has opened the eyes of many. Some of her ideas, like abundance, are becoming the norm for thousands of people who have never heard of her, and I know that achieves her goals. Hildy, long may you shine as my role model and long may you be my friend.

  60. Hildy – Happy happy birthday to you! I am so honored to have known you for two of your 60 brilliant years. A little late on the birthday wishes, but if you’ve taught me anything it’s that there’s rarely such a thing as a missed opportunity – we always have a choice to create and seize new opportunities :).

    I’m sitting here remember the day in 2011 when my boss (yes, that would be Ify) shared with our whole staff that, despite some initial skepticism, she had read this book that was really on to something. It was called The Pollyanna Principles, and she believed in it so strongly that she provided a copy for every single one of us, challenging us to dare to think differently about the way we do our work. Even the language we were using to talk about our work. It was powerful stuff – somehow, everything written in that book seemed so obvious and yet groundbreaking at the same time. Like you had written something I had been feeling for some time but could never exactly articulate.

    A few years later, in 2014, I joined Ify and a few other staff at the statewide PANO conference, at which you were the keynote speaker. The theme was “The Power of We: Change the Questions, Change the World”. I I think that’s when I started to really “get” your book. Watching you and your ideas in action, being part of that whole experience, noticing your careful choice of words in reframing all kinds of situations and questions…I remember feeling profoundly moved. That event stayed with me long after I left – and not just professionally. You made it easy to see to bigger, broader, “whole life” implications. Again, it was so simple but no one had ever laid things out quite like you had. So succinct and logical. Such a small shift; start with the questions.

    After that, I checked out the Creating the Future blog every once in awhile, trying to keep the spirit of “changing the questions” alive and well in my job. Never did I imagine I’d soon be spending several hours a week with you for several weeks on end, but then Ify invited me to take an online Catalytic Thinking class (whatever that was) with her in the fall of 2015. I was so nervous about being “too young” and not having much to offer the group but that introductory, get-to-know-you, pre-class call put me right at ease. You made me feel welcome, valued, accepted – and made my vulnerability ok by being vulnerable yourself. Walking the talk.

    I have loved every minute of being part of this community. The connections you’ve facilitated, the subtle yet monumental lessons you’ve shared, the moments of realness you’ve offered, the opportunities for constant learning and practice you’ve provided. The way I approach my work (paid and volunteer), my decisions, my conversations, my relationships has fundamentally shifted. You have made so much possible. For whom? An entire group of people who have had the privilege of learning with you, and also a whole lot of people who have never even heard of you, because of the magnitude of the ripples you’ve started. You are one-of-a-kind, Hildy. THANK YOU for being brave enough to share yourself with the world. I am so grateful to have walked with you. Can’t wait to continue down this path.

    All this to say…a very happy (if belated) birthday to you! Hope it was nothing short of AWESOME.

    With much joy,

  61. Dear Hildy,

    Happy Birthday!

    (For four days ago, I’ve managed to be late even to this online gathering. I hope you had a wonderful day).

    Knowing you is a great gift. You have helped me see the world through a lens of possibility, knowing that we have enough and are enough to create the future we need. In very practical ways this has helped us in our work with social change projects at StartSomeGood, helping orient them towards stories of possibility and hope, and for me personally your words and your work has been a source of strength and encouragement.

    Thank you for all you have done and are doing for the world! You’re an incredible spirit, a light in a sometimes-gloomy world and a wonderful friend and collaborator.

    With much love.


  62. Hildy!

    My first long-distance Twitter friend, my abundance co-conspirator, my thinking partner and inspiration… what is there to say on such a momentous occasion? It warms my heart to witness you receive such well deserved appreciation and recognition for all you contribute to the world – and to each of us!

    It’s hard to believe it was ten years ago that I first discovered you on a new platform called “Twitter”. I was riveted by your brilliant, counter-cultural, common-sense posts, and was thrilled when we began a digital back and forth that continues to this day. Though we were miles apart, it was a relief to hear you share ideas and ask questions that were incredibly relevant to my work, based in reality, and grounded in abundance. Knowing you were out there made me feel part of a community, less isolated, and more hopeful about the potential of community organizations to drive transformative change.

    What a gift to be able to meet you in person years later in Vancouver… and to continue to be part of your quest. Thank you for our decade-long conversation, for your vision and courage, and for sharing who you are with the world. We are all so much better for it!

    With love, appreciation, and determination to create a positive future together!

    xo Lynda

  63. Dear Hildy,
    Congratulations and welcome to the over 60 club! You should be immensely proud of the contributions you have made to improve the wellness of communities far and wide. Thank you for always being there for my brother and for being a part of our family over the past 3 decades. Hope you had a wonderful birthday. Hope to see you again soon.

    Με αγάπη …Your brother from another mother,


  64. Hildy! I missed the celebration, however, I think about you and how you and Creating the Future has touched my life. Sitting on my desk is a rendering of your “efficiency vs. effectiveness” concept. Since I saw you talk in Idaho at Southwest District Health, I cannot get that concept out of my mind! It just makes sense! In this time of uncertainty and fear, I find myself hopeful. Hopeful for the future that we can create that speaks of abundance instead of scarcity of love instead of hate. These words and feelings would never have come to me without you. I hope that your birthday was a wonderful day and I wish for you happiness daily!!

  65. All birthdays, but especially such significant ones, should be celebrated for as long as you can possibly stretch them out. Consider these belated wishes to be my attempt to help you do that. 🙂

    You and I go back 20 or more years. We started as virtual colleagues on Charity Channel, but realized quickly upon meeting at that first Charity Channel Summit that there was a friendship there, too. Over the years I have cherished both. I so respect the way you look at life, the sector, and the impact we can make on our communities. As long as I’ve been at this, I’m always learning from you (and sounding more brilliant when I quote you). But, equally, I treasure the times we’ve been able to sit over a meal and laugh. I’m so glad I got to do both – learn and laugh – for a full, intensive week when I came out to Tucson for an early introduction to Creating the Future.

    I may not be on Facebook to stay current with all the latest ideas you bring to the table, but I do try not to fall too far behind. I’m grateful for our long relationship and hope that we are able to share many more opportunities to create a better future and have fun in the years ahead.

  66. Good Morning Hildy, As you may have expected, your BROTHER was and is the star of the family. As you remember, I had nothing nice to say about girls of all sizes. I do remember that you always had words with me when I told the truth about girls. I do clearly remember that Prender would never a thing with words about girls and, as you incorrectly said, were the better of the two. Of course your brother agreed with all I said on the topic.
    I could always look to you for power in the class. Be it fighting with me or informing some of those “dilly” girls about the issue at hand. You were famous for jumping out of her seat, standing in the middle of the desks and off you went on the issue of the minute. Your hands do fan, your head to moves in all directions, and always always on the subject full of energy. As I see your pictures as time when past I still very much remember YOU and all that you gave to the kids in class and me, that poor teacher. Just remember that you are simply 3 years young than Prender. Hug and a Kiss from me. Have the best day ever for you at the party. I hope that all there will appreciate you as I did way back then.

Comments are closed.