“Being a part of DOVIA-LA has not only helped me to grow as a professional but it has assisted my career growth too!”
Q: You’re the VP of Programs and Education of DOVIA-LA. What is that role like?
A: Being the VP of Programs and Education means that I am in charge of designing what our educational curriculum will be. My job is to research trends in our industry, consider member suggestions, understand the professional development needs of our membership and recruit speakers to fulfill those goals.
Q: When were you introduced to DOVIA-LA and how?
A: DOVIA-LA was the first professional call I made when I moved to California almost 4 years ago! I didn’t know a soul but what I did know is that I wanted to immediately get connected within the volunteer engagement community here in LA. I was a part of a similar organization in Seattle so I knew how helpful it would be to begin networking with my professional peers, learning about local non-profits, and continuing my education in the field of volunteer management.
Q: What motivated you to join the Board of Directors?
A: You know the saying, “They come for the cause but they stay for the people?” It was kind of like that. I was initially interested in the DOVIA-LA board to beef up my resume. Joining the board did just that but it has honestly provided me with so much more…leadership skills, professional connections with non-profit industry leaders, but most of all I have gained some of my very best friends by being a part of the DOVIA-LA board!
Q: Where are you currently working and what do you want us to know about the organization?
A: I work for CASA of Los Angeles whose mission is to mobilize community volunteers to advocate for children who have experienced abuse and neglect. As the Volunteer Training Coordinator I get to lead incredible people through an intensive training process where we focus on learning how to be an officer of the dependency court and show up for at risk youth in the system. I am constantly inspired by these wonderful people!
Q: How did you get started managing volunteers?
A: I have been a lifelong volunteer. Volunteering has been an outlet to take action on the things I wanted to change in the world and allowed me to get a glimpse into the careers that would feed my soul professionally. Like many things in life sometimes you don’t see the potential inside yourself until someone else encourages you to do so. I had been working in the domestic violence movement for 6 years post college in various advocacy roles. When the existing volunteer manager left the organization I was approached by my supervisor and the CEO individually to ask if I was going to apply for it. That gave me the encouragement I needed. Once I got in the role that “professional lightbulb” went off for me and I have been working in volunteer management ever since. I’m approaching 7 years now and I still love it!
Q: What has been one of your proudest accomplishments in working with volunteers or community engagement?
A: Excellent question! I really love the education and mentorship component of volunteer management. When I was working with volunteers in the DV movement I viewed my role as investing in the next generation of advocates. I had one volunteer who stood out to me…she had never volunteered before and had thus far only held jobs in the restaurant industry (no non-profit background at all). She was intelligent, and warm, and healthy in her approach to the work that can take an emotional toll on most. It was particularly incredible to witness and support her growth as an advocate and then encourage her to take the leap when she applied for a paid position within my organization. I was able to see her transition from someone who was quiet and a tad insecure to a strong powerhouse of an advocate who was a change agent in her own right. Volunteerism has the power to change lives and not just for those receiving services!
Q: Do you have any tips for volunteer managers?
A: Take the time to really get to know your volunteers…their whole selves not just their volunteer self. Why are they volunteering? What are their hopes for the future? When is their birthday? When you invest in volunteers this way I think you’ll find that not only will your relationship deepen but their connection to your mission and your work will strengthen too. Who knows what untapped potential is within your volunteer force!
Q: Do you have any hobbies that help you maintain work/life balance?
A: I love folk arts and crafts! So much so that I have a creative side hustle called DEAN+KATHLEEN where I focus on fiber based art. If I’m working with my hands doing anything from gardening, sewing, knitting, embroidery, or macrame I’m happy.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: Invest in your yourself. Being a part of DOVIA-LA has not only helped me to grow as an professional but it has assisted my career growth too! Every time I attend a DOVIA-LA meeting I learn something new and meet someone new who energizes me. I am reminded that I am a part of something that is so much bigger than myself…or even my organization! It gives me hope for our future!
This amazing woman will be finishing her term on the board this year and is open to talking to members interested in shaping our future educational programming!