My landing point in the philanthropic sector was unexpected, though looking back now, not completely surprising. As an undergraduate student studying English and Women's and Gender Studies at a small school in rural Kentucky, philanthropy was not on my radar as a career field. During my undergraduate studies, I participated in the Bonner Program, which helped to fund my education through volunteer work. This experience exposed me to the nonprofit sector and connected me to the network of organizations doing amazing work in a town of just under 4,500 people. While I still was not considering the nonprofit sector as a career option, I soon found that the pandemic and graduating early had different plans for me.

After graduating in May 2020, I had no idea what to do. The world had shut down, but all around me, I could see the needs that organizations were working to address. I intended to take a gap year to figure out my future, and while that gap year did not match my images of travel and exploration, it helped me figure out where I belonged.

I participated in AmeriCorps for the first time in the fall of 2019 with the Kentucky Campus Compact. This position allowed me to mentor incoming and first-year college students in Kentucky. It also provided me access to a network of opportunities when I suddenly found myself isolated from the outside world and looking for a way to be of service. I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA from July 2020–July 2021 with Age-Friendly Louisville, and it was this experience that really thrust me out of my comfort zone and forced me to learn how to build connective tissue as the leadership coordinator.

Midway through, I found myself searching for my next steps and found that, yet again, the universe had the answer ready for me. The same week in December 2020, I received emails from the AmeriCorps Network and the Bonner Network discussing their partnerships with the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. I knew immediately that this was the next step I had been seeking. In the fall of 2021, I entered the Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies program with my experiential knowledge and the understanding that this program would lead me to my next steps. Almost immediately, I became aware of The Patterson Foundation (TPF) and began to engage with its work through the Nonprofit Internship Program.

My first internship was with NeuroChallenge Foundation under CEO Sara Grivetti's guidance. It was such an impactful learning experience that I applied for another under the tutelage of Executive Director Deborah Millman at the Lemur Conservation Foundation.

These internship experiences provided insight into how TPF worked with the community and showed me how my muscles could be strengthened even further with the guidance of the staff and by experiencing the initiatives in Sarasota. I applied to TPF's Fellows Program expecting to be challenged, and I know that will be true. I look forward to this year, and the growth that I am sure will come along with it.

Comments (1)

  • Carol Kranitz

    Carol Kranitz

    25 July 2023 at 18:26 | #

    Welcome ! Looking forward to working with you on Suncoast Campaign for Grade Reading.

    reply

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