Arizona Women’s Education and Employment (AWEE)
Why did you decide to begin working for a nonprofit?
I took four months off in between jobs and I hiked and I did some soul searching and I thought, there’s not another sale I could make, there’s not another dollar more that I could make that could give me the sense of fulfillment that I get from seeing someone else’s life get better. So I think really out of gratitude for the kind of life that I’ve been blessed with, I wanted to help create change in other people’s lives too.
Tell me about your role here?
I started at AWEE as a Career Counselor, I did that for about two years. Now I work in the development area where I get to forge partnerships with companies, agencies, as well as with donors who all align with what AWEE is trying to do in helping to change people’s lives.
Can you tell me about the merger that’s happening?
Yes! It’s very exciting. Last month we announced that AWEE will be a subsidiary of a great nonprofit called A New Leaf. They focus on housing, health, and providing services. So it’s really a good fit for AWEE. We’re going to come in and help strengthen their workforce and they’re going to help strengthen us too.
How will the merger affect you and your career?
Starting next week I will be changing roles. Instead of working just for AWEE, I will be serving A New Leaf too. Doing the same type of thing, helping to find donors of all sorts who are interested in helping to change people’s lives.
Did you learn everything for your current role on the job?
Last year I got to be a part of the ASU Nonprofit Leadership program and in there I learned so much. They taught me to be able to do things like being able to talk on camera even though I stutter, it just gave me more confidence. I think a lot of the skills I have, like being able to take more of a supervisory role, is from both learning on the job from the great people I work with, and also from that program.
How long have you been a member of YNPN?
I have been with YNPN for a little less than a year. It is fantastic, all of the events that are offered. But more so, after the ASU program, I still wanted to feel like I was a part of a tribe and I still wanted to feel like I had support outside of just my agency. I think when you work in nonprofit, it’s not too common that people walk in and say “how are YOU doing?” right? Because we are typically helping others. But when you’re a part of something like YNPN, you have a group of people who are truly interested in how you are doing and helping you to further both your professional life but also just to be good friends.
What advice do you have for people who are new to nonprofits?
I think as people who work in nonprofit we often want to give to others but we have to be careful to not forget about our own goals to do things like taking classes, to networking in groups like YNPN, and just don’t leave yourself out of the mix as you go out to save the world.
Do you have any resources that you use to learn and grow personally?
I’m a big fan of the ASU Lodestar Center. I took their Nonprofit Management Certificate as well as their Leadership Program. So I think they have some great things that can help. As well as just talking to other people in the field, and not being afraid to say, you know what? I may not have all of the answers but together I think that we probably do.
What do you like about the nonprofit community in Phoenix?
Phoenix is a big city but it’s a small city. It seems like there are not that many steps from one person to another person, so there’s a lot of access. If you just put yourself out there, even though it can be scary to go network or have lunch with somebody or have coffee with somebody, if you give yourself a chance and put yourself in it, you’ll see that your network of people can grow really really quickly.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I recently joined a nonprofit board, called the Homeless ID project. It’s really interesting serving on the board side too because you get to see both angles. I think if you have the bandwidth and you have the interest, I would highly encourage people if there’s a board that might also help them grow.
How do you work within the constraints of a nonprofit, how do you balance your life?
I learned the balance. One of the most important things that I do for balance is that I take a lunch. I take an hour lunch, and I take it almost every single day. I might use it just to meet up with a friend, I might read with it, but it’s that break in the day. When I first started I would show up to work at 7, I would work until 6, I would be eating on the go and it just wasn’t working out. Now I see if I can just take that time to go for a walk when it’s not summer, and just reset myself I come back more refreshed and better able to serve. So I think lunch is really key!
Do you have any podcasts or books that you would recommend?
I am really into Start With Why by Simon Sinek. I’m’ starting to see it in everything, from why I do the work that I do, why I’m interested in the outside things that I am and why I’m able to lead from a place of understanding what my ‘why’ is helping other people understand what theirs is too. So I’m definitely on the ‘why’ train now!
What’s your outlook as a young person working in nonprofit?
I’m a young-ish person in nonprofit. So I’m at this great age where there’s so much that I can learn from people who are older and have been in the sector longer than me. But there’s also these amazing 21 year olds, 22, 23 year olds, and their ideas and their passion is so great! So I think, always having beginners mind, never thinking that I’m ever going to be the expert on anything in life and always being able to learn from people on both sides of life is something that keeps me young, even as I start to age.
Do you have any networking tips for people?
Yes, one of my biggest tips for people is when you add somebody on LinkedIn, always send a personal note. Don’t just hit add. You want to hit add and actually say ‘it was so great to meet you at such-and-such place’. I think that the internet makes it easy to collect a lot of people but you want to make sure you’re still having quality relationships with those people. Even if it’s over the internet.
Thank you, Jaclyn!