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Jumping In

2015-April 14
by Megan MacDavey, Program Officer

When people ask me how my first few months at my new job are going, it's hard to hide my excitement. Moving from working in the nonprofit world to working in philanthropy has, for me, been like jumping in a cold lake on a hot day: a little shocking and totally invigorating.

Shocking because it is such a shift in the day-to-day lens that I was used to using. I moved overnight from grantseeker to grantmaker. I have shifted from an organization- and collaboration-focused lens to one that routinely moves between organizational, funder, field, and systems lenses. And while I'm pretty familiar with some of the nonprofits here in Western New York touching the issues that Tower funds, I'm very new to those working in Massachusetts. I'm also relatively new to some of the subject matters that the Foundation funds. My colleagues assure me that they are not "content experts;" the phrase they use around here is "enlightened generalists." But let me tell you, they have a lot of knowledge about the areas the Foundation funds and I'm eager to absorb some of it from them (and from you). And personally, that's a little shocking for me. I have to fight the urge to be impatient with my learning curve and accept that it will take time to get familiar with my new surroundings. Finally, maybe the most shocking thing of this new reality is the grantee/grantor power imbalance. But that's a blog post in itself.  

And then there are the invigorating parts. My second week on the job, I got to tour the Renaissance Campus, a treatment facility for chemically-dependent youth in Western New York, with their partners from Kids Escaping Drugs. This visit made so concrete for me the importance of the work that they are doing, and in turn, the important role the Foundation plays in supporting their work. Since my interviews, and really well before that in my interactions with the Foundation from the grantseeking world, it has been crystal clear to me how seriously the Foundation staff take their jobs - as advocates for the organizations they work with and the populations they work to support. There is a feeling that, we have to do the best we can at our jobs so that we can support the organizations that are making a direct impact on people's lives. I'm excited to dig in and get to know the world of philanthropy better, the worlds of behavioral health and intellectual and learning disabilities better, and the wonderful organizations that the Tower Foundation gets to partner with. I'm feeling totally invigorated and excited for this new adventure.

So there it is! My first blog post as a new program officer at the Tower Foundation. A new voice on the blog - one that overuses hyphens and semi-colons, and uses commas to indicate breaths rather than provide any grammatical value. And starts sentences with "and," to the chagrin of my colleagues, I am sure. I'm really looking forward to getting to know all of you and the important work you are doing in your communities!

Photo by Photo Monkey
Flickr: Jump / 48198536
Creative Commons 2.0 Licensed

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