Q: You’ll be leading DOVIA-LA as President in 2019. Congratulations! What opportunities do you see for DOVIA-LA? What do you hope to accomplish?
A: It is an honor to be serving as the President of DOVIA-LA this year. As most of us know, DOVIA-LA is a fantastic organization that provides a learning hub for volunteer engagement professionals in Los Angeles and its environs.
This year, the board is focused on expanding our reach and diversifying learning opportunities for our members. We have just acquired a robust membership platform that will be active very soon. This software will help us streamline processes and become more efficient and effective with member communications. We are also updating our bylaws to meet today’s operational needs and extend opportunity to serve both at committee and board level. This strategy and a few others in the pipeline will help with succession plan and we will be better prepared for the future.
Q: How/when were you introduced to DOVIA-LA and what motivated you to join the Board of Directors?
A: I was introduced to DOVIA-LA about six years ago by a previous boss. She was impressed with my interaction with the board members and volunteers while working on a fundraising event. So, I was asked to manage the volunteer program, and I accepted the offer. I registered to attend Education Day and I loved it! Since then, I have remained involved; and have regularly attended the professional development member meetings.
In 2015, the opportunity to serve on the board opened up. While I was still considering my workload and if it was the right time for me, a gentle nudge from a past DOVIA-LA board member made it easier for me to say yes and since then I have been invested.
Q: Where are you currently working and what do you want us to know about the organization?
A: I work at New Horizons as the Director of Development. New Horizons empowers individuals with special needs to fulfill their dreams. We offer residential accommodation, job training and placement, and teach both social and independent living skills. Our goal is to provide a brighter future and open up a world of possibilities for people with disabilities.
At New Horizons, we have a very rich organizational history with volunteers. Sixty-five years ago, eight parents started the non-profit, and we have upheld our values for volunteers by providing them with opportunities to excel. Volunteers mean a lot to New Horizons because they help to attract resources in support of the organizational goals.
Q: How did you get started as a volunteer professional?
A: Volunteer management was part of my formal education as a fundraiser. I work with volunteers when planning fundraising events, both at the committee level, pre-event, the day of and post-event logistics. Though I have had various opportunities to manage volunteers over the years, my first paid services as a volunteer professional was about a decade ago.
Q: What has been one of your proudest accomplishments in working with volunteers or community engagement?
A: My proudest accomplishments in working with volunteers are when a volunteer or a community partner helps our non-profit fund or meet an organizational need with very little or no request made. It shows their buy-in and that the volunteer program is mutually beneficial.
As an example, a few weeks ago, one of our volunteers that manages the weekly bowling program informed me of his intention to buy new league t-shirts for our clients. No one asked him, but he saw the need and stepped up, and that was an expense he took off the agency’s budget. Think about it; he did this in addition to his dedicated service of ensuring the bowling program runs hitch-free every week!
Another instance is when a volunteer community partner wrote us a check to support our annual campaign as well as taking a day to have their staff come volunteer on our campus. That is so thrilling!
Q: Do you have any tips for volunteer professionals?
A: Creating a match is very important, you can never over-emphasize the importance of the on-boarding process. Volunteers will experience with the joy of giving back when they are meaningfully engaged – doing what brings out the best in them. Simultaneously, the host nonprofits should be meeting a need with the services the volunteers renders. That is when transformative change happens in our communities!
Q: Do you have any hobbies that help you maintain work/life balance?
A: I like being outdoors, and visiting new places.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: Plan, put in the work and stay focused.