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Candidate Corner with Kerry Sautner

Read Time
2 minutes
Winter 2024
Lincoln Leadership

Candidate Corner with Kerry Sautner

This month's Corner features Kerry Sautner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. 

Headshot of a woman in a blue top

In your new role, what was your major impact the first year?
In my initial six months, I've significantly contributed by expanding existing projects, enhancing fundraising efforts, and establishing robust structures and processes within our teams and the institution at large. My primary focus has been fortifying the foundation and developing a solid infrastructure supporting our work, community, and overall impact. This foundational work is crucial for elevating the organization to the next level.

Where do you get advice? Who do you listen to?
For guidance, I draw inspiration from Abraham Lincoln's approach to assembling his cabinet, as detailed in Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals." However, I view my "cabinet" as an external circle of advisors rather than just an internal team. These individuals provide honest feedback and challenge me to improve, understanding that candid advice contributes to my success. I've curated a diverse group of advisors from various fields whose perspectives often differ, helping me find balanced solutions. A key to receiving valuable advice is posing well-thought-out questions that elicit constructive and meaningful responses.

What do you do outside of work that gives you joy?
Outside of work, running is my source of joy and clarity, allowing me to ponder over ideas and issues. Additionally, engaging in community work has enriched my life with unique interactions, leading to lasting friendships and alliances.

If you could have a meal with one person, who would it be and why?
If I could share a meal with anyone, I would choose my late mother. Her guidance on balancing ambition with patience continues to influence me, and I deeply miss her wisdom.

What have you found most helpful while working with search firms?
When working with search firms, transparency is paramount. I value a search firm that supports both the client and the candidate, offering candid feedback to enhance my message and achieve my goals while being forthright about potential mismatches. The real test is whether I'm willing to heed their advice.