Q&A with Kate Ekman
Purpose & Engagement Coordinator, Beach Cities Health District
Where are you currently working and how long have you been managing volunteers?
I’ve been managing volunteers since I was at university, where I became president of our campus environmental club. We did a lot of great projects including creating a lasting legacy by doing native-species tree plantings. I also lead the Chicago chapter of a national coalition of LGBTQ volunteers called Pride at Work, and we were a part of the push to pass marriage equality legislatively in Illinois, before the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and made marriage equality the law of the land. I’m now fortunate to manage a volunteer program full time as Purpose & Engagement Coordinator at Beach Cities Health District. Our organization is focused on the health and wellness of the community and we do lots of great things from teaching kids about mindfulness to helping older adults maintain independence in their homes. I also like to volunteer. Most recently, I got some coworkers together and we painted curbs in Kenneth Hahn State Park on Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service.
How were you introduced to DOVIA-LA and what do you enjoy about the group?
I was introduced to DOVIA by Past President Megan Vixie, who is the Director of Volunteer Services/Human Resources at Beach Cities Health District. I like coming to DOVIA meetings because it helps me understand volunteer management in a broader sense from my peers. I feel it helps synthesize that what we’re doing at BCHD is on the right track.
Do you have any tips for volunteer managers?
I make lists. Putting it down on paper helps me feel like I don’t have to keep track of it all in my head. This is not a failsafe plan but it’s the one best thing I know. When the work is tough or overwhelming, I try to chat with volunteers. It might seem counterintuitive since there’s a lot on our plates as volunteer managers, but they’re wonderful to talk to and it connects me to what is important about what we do.
Do you have any hobbies that help you maintain work/life balance?
I moved to California from the Midwest and I love living here since it affords me the ability to explore and enjoy the outdoors year-round. I try to go hiking every weekend and am always thinking about the next backpacking trip. The quiet and stillness I seek on my hikes really helps me. It’s my church.