When I arrived at The Patterson Foundation (TPF), I ventured into the first day with an open mind to what might result from this unique one-year Fellowship. Unclear on which direction to pursue in my career, I held a conviction to reside in philanthropy. From my academic journey through Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, my passion for work in the nonprofit sector was reaffirmed, propelling my enthusiasm.

Upon completing my master's degree, I arrived at a juncture in my career path. In my perceived trajectory, I was to continue pursuing fundraising, leaning further into major gifts, hoping to lead a major organization in a development role. The path seemed right in front of me – fundraise until you reach the top. But then I thought, "How does someone who spends 15-25 years fundraising magically possess the skillset to manage an organization's programmatic, processes, and operational side?"

While I learned so much from my time in development and fundraising, I recognized there was far more to learn about how philanthropy works beyond the check. Debating my next steps, I felt torn between pursuing a career where I had clear strengths versus pursuing my interests (and potential strengths). It occurred to me that if I marry my experience with these new opportunities, I'd be better positioned and far more prepared to become a future leader.

Captivated by TPF's work, I discovered my calling – community and organizational impact. By building communities and strengthening organizations, I see opportunity to reinforce the efforts of NPOs doing good work through programming that leads to collaborations and systems that address needs (while remaining cognizant of emerging needs as they evolve). It all comes back to figuring out ways to help people and fostering more inclusive and supportive communities—this is what drives my passion for this field of work.

In May 2022, I attended the GEO Conference, where I met colleagues from around the country who share my passion. Colleagues such as S. Mayumi Grigsby, Esq. with Chicago Foundation for Women, former TPF Fellow, John Ferguson with Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, Stratton Lloyd with Essex County Community Foundation, Rakim Brooks with Alliance for Justice, and Don Howard with The James Irvine Foundation, are among the many who attended and shared knowledge, strategies, insights, and challenges, prompting a deeper dive into how funders can approach their current and future endeavors with impact. Their perspectives confirmed my deep interest in pursuing roles that can catalyze multi-sector collaborations, elevating—and keeping paramount—the voices of the community while guiding ideas into plans of action that engage community-wide participation in the efforts.

Another influential experience confirming my passion for this work was Suncoast Remake Learning Days, a free 10-day learning festival in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Regional collaborations between government agencies, nonprofits, and businesses were catalyzed, moving organizations from silos to systems—fostering community-wide participation in the festival.

Immersed in the strategy, planning, and implementation of such catalytic programming has become a focal point of my work. I'm excited for what comes next, imagining the possibilities for life after the Fellowship on regional, state, national, and even global levels. With equity and great ambitions driving my exploration for new opportunities, doing good work remains a constant in my next chapter.

Comments (2)

  • MayMay


    26 August 2022 at 18:38 | #

    Reworked, cohesive, GOOD. I LIKE IT!


  • Lisa Intagliata

    Lisa Intagliata

    27 August 2022 at 14:09 | #

    Any organization would be lucky to have you on their team, Michael!


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