Having served in leadership roles for much of her life, Kathy Burba is now sharing her experience with others.
When she retired four years ago after 27 years as a U.S. Army Colonel, she had expected to stay in the Washington, D.C. area.
Instead, she found out her sister, who has cerebral palsy, was diagnosed with breast cancer so traveled to Santa Barbara for four months to help her navigate a treatment plan.
Once she decided she would stay in Santa Barbara to be near her sister, she started looking for a new professional direction and came across a local advertisement for the ANTIOCH MBA PROGRAM at a new campus.
What initially attracted her was Antioch’s social justice approach. Once she found out about Antioch’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which makes additional funds available for veterans’ education, she knew it was a good fit.
Her work for the U.S. Army was focused on leadership and logistics – from coordinating refugee support with the United Nations; to responding to natural disasters with FEMA to conducting development of security forces for NATO in Afghanistan.
She wanted to continue “work of service” by transitioning into the nonprofit sector and thought an MBA program at Antioch could help her understand business concepts including corporate law and finance.
What she got was far more than she expected.
“I discovered an entrepreneurial spirit,” she said. “A lot of my classes centered around innovation and creativity. What I gained from that was the confidence to start a business from scratch.”
When she earned her MBA in 2016, she did some pro bono work for nonprofits and realized she wasn’t best-suited for work inside of those organizations. She did have something to offer through consulting since much of the work needed was best suited for an outside facilitator without an agenda.
Her time at Antioch helped her solidify a new direction – social impact consulting. This resulted in Beyond Purpose Consulting, which she launched last year, to provide leadership and strategic planning facilitation at an affordable price to small nonprofits that are oriented on vulnerable populations.
“Everything I learned at Antioch about being socially-responsible in business plays a part in how I brand my business, and how I take on a client,” she said. “I’m picking projects based on whether or not it resonates with my values.”
Advocating for others is an important part of how Burba contributes to her community. She advocates for the Equal Right Amendment (ERA) so women are recognized legally in the constitution. She also serves on the board of Hinchee Homes, which provides home-style living for those with disabilities. In addition, she serves as a leadership coach for A Different Point of View, which is a mentorship program that teaches at-risk youth to fly planes.
Burba believes in Antioch’s MBA program so much she continues to stay connected to it by working to recruit and mentor students.
“I work with (students) by asking them what they are trying to achieve, helping them build their business identities and developing ideas for their capstone project, ideally it is something that resonates with them,” she said. If (the project) is personal, it will be successful.”
She is also an ambassador of the program in the local community by assisting in identifying guest speakers for community leadership panels hosted by the Antioch MBA program. She was recently asked by the MBA Chair – Anna Kwong, to attend one herself that included the CEO of Girls Inc. for Santa Barbara and the first female police chief in recognition of International Women’s Day.
Another way Burba gives back to Antioch is by serving as president of the Alumni Association and by leading the Alumni Council.
“Our intent in the Alumni Association is to be ambassadors of Antioch by increasing enrollment, raising money for scholarships, and providing professional development with new alumni such as organizing community networking events,” said Burba. She added that Antiochians are integrated into the community and many of the relationships built through networking can translate into community impact.
Burba credits her success in business and in the community to her experience as an Antioch MBA student and her instructors.
She started with ANNA KWONG.
“She gets to know every single MBA student, determines their strengths and weaknesses and helps them put a plan together beyond the classroom,” said Burba. “The ability to do that is essential.”
Two more of Burba’s professors helped her gain a well-rounded perspective of entrepreneurship.
“Doug Lynch is well-connected to the business incubators in town and Ron Gans has a PhD in physics,” she said. “They have vision and are creative but they think differently, which added to the program. There was a nice range of different personalities (in the program) instead of cookie-cutter approaches to the business classes.”
Burba feels the service oriented, mission-driven work she’s doing is largely due to the support of the faculty, staff and cohort members she interacted with at Antioch University.
“I’m in a great place in life,” she said. “I talk authentically about what’s important to me and it resonates with people because they can feel it’s truly from my heart. It’s not a pitch.”
Photo Credit: Emily Downey