For Debora Foerst, being the principal at Cherokee High School can sometimes be challenging. Because a principal’s job description is so broad, she has her hands in virtually everything related to students, teachers, and parents. When she was invited to participate in the Pathways for Nonprofit Leadership Program, offered by WNC Nonprofit Pathways, Foerst eagerly accepted.

Foerst understands the importance of continuously working to improve her leadership skills and keep her skill set properly aligned with the constantly changing educational environment. Being in the program would provide an opportunity to fine-tune and sharpen her professional, and personal development skills even more in order to become a more effective leader.

“I was invited to attend the leadership program by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, a founding partner of Pathways,” said Foerst. “The folks there supported me throughout the process and were so encouraging.”

WNC Nonprofit Pathways offers the four-month professional development program twice yearly to a small group of gifted leaders from across western North Carolina. Upon completion, each participant will have stronger skills and capacities to lead in effective, sustainable ways.

“With my background as a teacher and a development administrator, I recognized that this program would be a good, solid stepping stone in my role as a high school administrator,” said Foerst. “It is important to build a foundation to become the type of leader who can make positive change and inspire others.”

An essential part of the leadership program is goal-setting. Research shows that setting specific goals is important, especially in making change happen. Foerst set out to make a list of areas she wanted to improve to help her become a more well-rounded, valuable leader.

“I have always set high standards for myself and so my primary focus in the program was to seek ways to obtain an enhanced level of performance,” she said. “It was important for me to find ways to be more actively involved in school projects and more knowledgeable in relevant educational issues. I also wanted to set a goal to achieve a higher degree, and become more organized in my work space.”

Foerst believes she is moving in the right direction in her role as a high school principal and believes the impact of participating in the Pathways for Nonprofit Leadership Program has provided her a new skill set to grow into a more effective school leader. She feels stronger in assessing situations as they come up and utilizing available resources to make them work in any situation.

“I’m so grateful for the support and encouragement of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and WNC Nonprofit Pathways,” Foerst said. “There is still so much to do, but I’m more focused in my leadership role and look forward to the future.”

For more information about the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, visit

For more information about WNC Nonprofit Pathways, explore this site or email: