Who’s That Nonprofiteer?

Caroline iMentor Bell Ring - crop
Ringing the New York Stock Exchange Bell to celebrate the National Mentoring Month 2011, as seen on a giant Times Square billboard. Photo by Chong Oh.

Thanks for reading the first post of That Nonprofiteer.

In this column, I plan to write about 1) all things nonprofit that interest me and 2) the nonprofit professionals that inspire me. I will call them “nonprofiteers” here, a term I borrow lovingly from the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN).

Story continues below.

I’m an executive coach to nonprofit leaders, including aspiring ones. I happily coach enlightened for-profit folks too.

Caroline iMentor Bell Ring - crop
Ringing the New York Stock Exchange Bell
to celebrate the National Mentoring Month 2011,
as seen on a giant Times Square billboard.
Photo by Chong Oh.

In my previous life, I was a nonprofit leader myself. For over 12 years, I worked for a wonderful organization named iMentor (my first baby). I was on the board of directors of Row New York, Youth I.N.C., and Nonprofit Coordinating Committee New York (NPCCNY), and continue to cheerlead for these and other great organizations such as LIFT, Girls Who Code and Echoing Green. I am a deep believer in mentoring. I advocate for young people and education.

At iMentor, where I served in multiple roles (program director, executive director, president) as the organization evolved, I helped lead it through its startup phase, national expansion and rapid growth. My real legacy there, though, involved building a great team and finding true partners in the senior leaders who have taken the organization to new heights. During that time, I also got married, commuted from Louisville, Kentucky (my husband was working there) to New York City every other week for a year, had two human babies, and took care of my loving dad in his last days with my brother. All of these experiences have somehow made me an accidental expert on work-life balance, especially for women and colleagues in the nonprofit world. I’m also a frequent speaker, panelist and advisor on all things nonprofit.

Photo by Chong Oh
Photo by Chong Oh

Currently, based on my coaching partnerships, I’m obsessed with what’s going on inside the minds of nonprofit leaders. I’m moved every day by how powerfully transformative simple questions can be for people who are seeking, needing or going through change. Being a witness to amazing people’s potentials, dreams and fears and how these people grow to become unique and authentic leaders is a very special thing. I would love to find a way to explore that here.

I am hoping That Nonprofiteer will become a place for all nonprofiteers to learn, grow and laugh a little, too. I would love to share my knowledge as a nonprofit professional, friend and coach to other smart and brave nonprofit leaders who try new things and wildly succeed, or fail and try again, or decide to stop and pursue something else that makes them happy.  We can gain insight from past experiences of others to improve not only our own lives, but also those that we serve.

Some of my favorite nonprofiteers. Photo by my iPhone.
Some of my favorite nonprofiteers.
Photo by my iPhone

Other topics I will write about: surviving organizational changes; fundraising; building a positive culture; nonprofiteer career planning; nonprofiteer professional development (with no money and probably no time off!); managing through influence (a.k.a. managing without authority); getting nonprofit volunteers to do what you need, not what they want to do; work-life balance—or mix, as I like to call it. And I would love to highlight “interesting” nonprofiteers.

The Clyde Fitch Report is where arts and politics intersect. I love that. This column was suggested to me as a way to serve the many arts institutions, arts-and-politics-oriented nonprofits and the nonprofiteers who work for them. I started in college as a fine arts major, but did not graduate as one. I also attempted a concentration in government and didn’t finish so I could graduate on time. I’m thinking this could be an opportunity for me to contribute to the two fields I loved but gave up in college!

I’m that delayed New Yorker who learned to ride a two-wheeler bike at 39. I also learned to drive a car in my 30s and I’m still working my way up to highway driving. It’s never too late to try new things, and that’s another reason I’m trying my hand at That Nonprofiteer.

I’m hoping this will be fun and interesting for everyone involved, but especially you. I would love your feedback and ideas.