Meet the newest member of our team.
What attracted you to join Catchafire and take on the role of an executive?
Great question! I was somewhat familiar with Catchafire from working in the nonprofit sector over the past 15 years. Catchafire would have been a great resource and partner during some of the most challenging phases of our work. So that's really what interested me in Catchafire earlier in my career, and although we didn’t have access to it, I thought it was a great opportunity for nonprofits to continue to grow and have access to opportunities and volunteers they wouldn’t normally have access to. When I saw the opportunity to get back to what I believe is the core of working in the nonprofit sector, interacting with a wide range of stakeholders to increase long-term impact within organizations, I jumped at the opportunity.
What does executive leadership mean to you?
At this phase in my career, executive leadership means providing support and guidance to my team and colleagues. I believe that everyone is a leader in their own right. Everyone's voice is important! We as a leadership team have a responsibility to create opportunities for everyone in the organization to sharpen those skills, gain new skills, and explore how they best bring value to our mission. Team-members who are nurtured, supported, and cared for are more apt to show up as their best self and lend their voice to move the needle forward.
My job is to remove barriers and blockers, and provide all of the tools and wisdom to be able to support the teams and colleagues that I have. It's also about being a lifelong learner. I don't know everything and I don't know a leader who knows everything. It's important to always sit in a place of learning. I can be better and I'm helping other people be better too, because I'm willing to listen and learn from everyone around me.
What excites you the most about Catchafire's mission and the impact it has on the community?
The future excites me the most. I love creating and innovating. Catchafire has a notable long history of the work and impact that's been done, but the future is bright. There's so much room to grow, expand, serve more people, and really reach the crevices of areas that we haven't even scratched the surface of. I think that's important for any organization.
What are your key priorities and goals as an executive at Catchafire, and how do you plan to achieve them?
When joining any organization, we always come in with lofty ideas, especially when you're in the interview process, and you have to answer a question about strategy and what you would like to bring to the company. But to be honest—day one, week one—it's about listening and learning; allowing the puzzle pieces to come together in terms of things that I thought I knew about the organization and the internal workings that I didn’t know.
How do you envision collaborating with the existing team at Catchafire to foster a culture of innovation and achieve the company's long-term vision?
That's a great question, and I think with collaboration there are three key components. The first one is open, honest, and trust-based communication; and that's something that will take time and people getting to know me. The second part is healthy conflict. That isn't the answer people like to hear because people think conflict is a lot of disagreement and toxicity. Healthy conflict is digging deeper. It's asking tough questions and considering different perspectives. Some of our best ideas are birthed out of conflict
Lastly, being able to communicate not only the organization's mission, but how our personal mission aligns is important. I always say that my purpose is bigger than any role or organization because that's what drives me in my life, whether it's personal or professional. My mission is to create equitable opportunities and resources for underserved communities., By communicating that through how we collaborate and asking those questions: ‘How does this align with Catchfire's mission? What are we doing to move the needle? How is this important to the bigger picture?’ will reinforce the importance of a united and long-term vision.
“My mission is to create equitable opportunities and resources for underserved communities.”
Vice President of Volunteer Engagement, Catchafire
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
The best piece of career advice, easy. And I didn't receive it directly, I read it. It’s from TIAA CEO, Thasunda Brown Duckett, who is one of four Black women CEOs of a Fortune 500 Company. She said, “I rent my title, but I own my character.” The title will come and go, and it doesn't matter if my title is floor sweeper or CEO, my character is what's most important because that's what I carry with me every day. That's what I carry with me in meetings. That's what I carry with me when I'm interacting with friends or family. That's what I carry with me—my integrity, empathy, and courage. Who I am as a person will always shine above whatever that title is.
What’s something most folks don’t know about you, but is core to who you are?
I'm actually an introvert and people assume I'm an extrovert. I have always been in very external-facing positions. I started my career right out of college in social services. I worked with families who have had children removed due to abuse and neglect, so I was always working with and talking to people. That’s when I realized that I need time to recharge and need alone time. I will sit in the dark and listen to music for hours just to check in with myself. I love this work but it is energy draining for me. At the end of the day, I need to reset so my battery can be fully charged for tomorrow. I engage in a variety of activities - yoga and reading are two of my favorites.
What are you reading or listening to right now?
I haven't started it yet, but I told myself I was going to start this week: “Sisterhood Heals” by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford. I also listen to her podcast, “Therapy for Black Girls.” Another podcast I listen to is “The Mama’s Den,” which is a group of Women of Color chalking it up about womanhood, motherhood, relationships, and balancing life. I always like to hear different perspectives of people but especially from women and Women of Color. We are not a monolith, but there are so many similarities in terms of how we operate in this world.
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