Each leader has a unique definition of success. Dani Kimlinger, CEO of MINES and Associates defines success as having an impact on others. She says, “As a leader, a successful day is when I can support and serve my employees, partners, and those in my professional and personal communities. Success is removing barriers for them, finding resources, and empowering them.” Through MINES as a system, success occurs when they have an impact on their individual and organizational clients and communities.
The Foundation of MINES And Associates
Dani has always been passionate about helping people! As a firm, MINES, too, has always been passionate about helping people. The foundation of MINES was built on their founder’s upbringing by a pharmacist and nurse in a rural area of Nebraska that had very little medical care and no mental health or substance abuse care. “Growing up with relatives and friends who needed help and did not receive any left a lasting impression,” states Dani. As their founder, Dr. Robert Mines went through college and discovered his love for psychology, it evolved into a dream to provide mental health and substance use disorder services. The firm was started in 1981 with the following vision and mission: The vision of MINES is to make a positive contribution to their fellow human beings and the planet through service and education. MINES believes that each act they perform is done mindfully and with great loving-kindness.
Challenges Make You Stronger
When faced with challenges or adversity, it can be hard to imagine that we will no doubt grow through the experience and become stronger. “When I was an early careerist, I saw my colleague host an emotional resilience program for palliative care physicians. I embraced what I saw in the resilience program and when I am in a stressful situation, I tap into those resiliency tools,” Dani says.
Adversities come in day-to-day challenges and up to seemingly serious showstoppers. There are interpersonal roadblocks that can get in her way as a leader, for instance, although professionally as an organizational development practitioner, her area of specialty was in conflict, personally, she absolutely detests conflict. “As a leader, I struggle when I need to have a constructive confrontation with a service partner, an employee, or a colleague. The stress of needing to have these interactions can lead to me not having them at all and inadvertently allowing problematic behavior or significant physiological and psychological stress. I use those resilience tools,” she explains.
Dani shared that one of the most significant adversities that she has overcome personally is difficulties in her childhood. Poverty and other challenging family situations were present. They had moments of deciding whether food, electricity or her dad getting to work was most important Resources were scarce. She had family members who struggled with untreated mental illness and substance use. “My experiences growing up forged my desire to help others and passion for being in a role where they can be impacted,” she says.
MINES & Associates and Its Services
MINES celebrated its 41st anniversary in January 2022. They are privately held. They provide health psychology and organizational psychology services. Their health psychology services include award-winning employee assistance programs, managed behavioral healthcare and PPO network services, critical incident stress debriefing services, police psychology, and on-site and virtual behavioral health clinic services. Their organizational psychology services include organizational assessments, human resource investigations, coaching, training programs, and conflict resolutions.
Dani’s vision for MINES is that through MINES’ team, their commitment to everyone that they serve, their expertise, their service, they will impact mental health and organizational psychology globally. They vow to continue to grow and evolve as a firm. They push each other to be the best that they can be as people and as professionals. She states that MINES will continue to be a workplace of choice because of its work, culture, people, and impact.
“We are growing our network in the diversity of providers’ backgrounds, areas of expertise, and culturally relevant and affirming training. We believe that our services are best to meet a client where they are, and this includes expanding access points. MINES is expanding our integration of all organizational workplace and community programming to make mental health and wellbeing services integral and evidence-based,” says Dani.
Dani’s Life Before MINES and Proud Moments as A Leader
Her life before MINES consisted of growing up in Evergreen, CO, and attending the University of Colorado at Denver. In college, she was involved in honor societies and volunteered with local non-profits. She worked four part-time jobs while in college including positions at a daycare, fitness center, administrative support for a psychiatrist, and assisting with corporate events. Upon graduation, she decided to take one year off to determine her next steps, she worked at MINES in their intake center and accepted an overnight position at a homeless youth shelter. She grew academically and professionally at MINES. She graduated with my master’s degree and Ph.D. while at MINES and moved into several different positions along the way, going through an executive leadership program, and accepting the CEO role in 2016 for appointment in January 2017.
Dani’s greatest achievement as a leader has been building and retaining her team. So many leaders say that they have the best team, but they literally do! Her team not only holds strong and diverse expertise, are committed to the clients they serve but they are also committed to supporting each other. There are a lot of venture capitalists interested in investing in mental health right now and they are offered investment money at least weekly. They have not accepted any venture capitalist money to date. In 41 years they have grown through their team’s service and expertise. The culture that the team has built and keeps going is what Dani claims to be most proud of. “The credit truly goes to our staff, and I hope that I support their initiatives through resources, removing barriers, and advocating for them. Team MINES has saved many lives literally and contributed to other’s healing, quality of life, growth, and success as individuals, families, and
communities,” she says.
Her personal goals as a leader are:
– Where is she a bottleneck for MINES’ operations and/or growth? What can she do to relieve those bottlenecks?
– She wants to work on being a better leader and continues to request feedback from her team and colleagues. Some areas that she is aware of that she can improve include communication about strategies and new services internally. She also claims to be aware that her constructive confrontation skills could improve.
– Scalability. This is an area that she is focusing on learning more about as they are growing quickly, and she does not want them to experience growing pains that will hurt the team or services.
Responsibilities As CEO
Dani, who describes herself as a ‘warmhearted’ person, says that her responsibilities as a CEO start with culture! Without your people and strong culture, she feels that there is no chance. Serving, supporting, and building her teammates and their culture, connecting with her colleagues at all levels of the organization is an important role. Ensuring that the vision and mission are being lived through MINES. Dani also drives social responsibility, strategy, profitability, organizational structure, engages in business development, and thought leadership
Day-to-day, Dani is focused internally and externally. “I spend about 65 percent of my time externally focused each week. I am looking at opportunities in the market, engaging in thought leadership activities such as speaking at conferences and events, writing, meeting with key stakeholders, community leaders, and building relationships. I spend the other 35 percent of my week focusing inward connecting with my direct reports every week, connecting with my greater MINES team, participating in internal meetings, facilitating the integration of the external with the internal, participating in culture committee meetings, consulting on HR activities and I do so consult as a staff member with our clients for a few hours each week,” she explains.
Maintaining Balance in Personal And Professional Life
One year into becoming a CEO, Dani realized that her life was unbalanced, and it was taking a toll on her health and well-being and no doubt was going to affect her team and MINES. She now prioritizes practicing self-care and balance in her personal and professional life. “My balance includes setting boundaries around work time, although I do work after hours, I set those hours and make sure that I have time to fill my well-being cup. I fill my cup by spending time with family and friends and engaging in activities that are meaningful to me. Some activities that keep me balanced include running and being part of the Runners Roost Race Team, my pets, journaling, reading, self-learning, weight training, being outdoors hiking, climbing, and snowboarding,” she says.
Dani travels a lot for work and keeping consistency and balance is key. Surrounding herself with accountability partners helps keep her accountable. She says that she is motivated for them to continue to make a difference in as many lives as possible. The more they grow the depth and breadth of their services, the greater impact we have! Being authentic and open motivates her to be a better person, colleague, and leader. “I appreciate when my colleagues give me the gift of feedback, it allows me to be introspective and grow,” Dani exclaims.