Chera Reid: “My Being and Doing are One and the Same”

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Chera Reid, Co-Executive Director, Center for Evaluation Innovation.

chera reid
Chera Reid, Co-Executive Director of Evaluation Roundtable at the Center for Evaluation Innovation, shares her insights on how we can become a more diverse community. (Image credit: Chera Reid)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I wish I had known that it was me, in my whole human self, that was what every organization needed from me. It was and is me that organizations are asking for. When I was starting out professionally, I was ready with my resume and eager to please. I worked hard to do more of what I believed senior leaders wanted me to do, and I kept parts of who I am to myself. Showing up wholly—head, heart, and hands—is what social change leadership requires. Today my being and doing are one and the same.

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Nicole Small: Supporting STEM Women with the IF/THEN Initiative

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Nicole Small, CEO of Lyda Hill Philanthropies.

Nicole Small, courtesy of Nicole Small
  1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession? 

So many things. There isn’t enough room.  I wish I had known that it was going to be a long and winding road and that, looking back, it would all make sense and would be so much fun! 

2. What is your current greatest professional challenge? 

My greatest professional challenge is that there aren’t enough hours in the day to engage with all of the wonderful teams doing amazing work to advance our communities, both for profit and not for profit.  We are constantly trying to think about balancing strategic long-term initiatives with short-term needs, given that this pandemic has illuminated so many deep issues around economic and health disparities. 

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Sharon Shapiro on Growing New Dimensions with Your Giving Quest

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Sharon Shapiro, Trustee and Community Liaison at the Ruderman Family Foundation.

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I wish I had known that philanthropy is a process and that there’s a strategy to giving. Growing up in a family that was highly philanthropic, we really didn’t talk about my parents’ giving and what it meant to them. We saw examples, but it wasn’t really spoken about in the house. Today, I try to teach my kids about philanthropy in a strategic way.

sharon shapiro
Sharon Shapiro is the Trustee and Community Liaison at the Ruderman Family Foundation. (Image Credit: Ruderman Family Foundation)

2. What is your current greatest professional challenge?

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Jamie Sears of UBS: The Value of More Victories for Women in Biz

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Jamie Sears, Head of Community Affairs and Corporate Responsibility for the Americas with the global financial firm UBS, who also leads the UBS Foundation USA.

jamie sears
Jamie Sears of UBS discusses ways we can do more to support women entrepreneurs. (image courtesy of Jamie Sears)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

Get practice using your voice, and don’t be afraid to use it. That was important when I started out and is still important now. I grew up as an adopted Asian American in a small town that was predominantly white and, from my earliest days, I did not feel comfortable speaking up.  Even as I moved through life and a career at some incredible organizations, I largely put my head down, did the work and thought it would speak for me. That is not how the world works if you want to have a big impact. I wish I had known the power of believing that my voice was worth something, and that the most powerful thing I could do is use it to advocate for myself and for others. Ultimately, it’s about having the confidence to know that you are contributing to the world. 

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Gwen Tillman of Tides on Investing in Women: It’s Simple

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Gwen Tillman, Chief People Officer for Tides, a philanthropic partner and nonprofit accelerator.

Gwen Tillman
Gwen Tillman, courtesy of Gwen Tillman
  1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

By the time I took a sabbatical from working in the technology sector, I was burned out. I didn’t realize how burned out I was until I allowed myself some time to step back and figure out what I wanted my life to be about. As one of the very few Black women in my field, I constantly drove myself to perform at 1000%, and I think that’s true of many Black women who feel the systemic pressure to constantly prove themselves. What I wish I knew early on in my career is that none of us can function at 1000%, when our bodies and our souls are functioning at 50%. We have to be better advocates for our own well-being because nothing is worth risking your health. Find a career that is consistent with your values and an organization that grants you the grace to live a balanced life and feeds your soul, at the same time. I am happy to say, I have found that at Tides.  

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Janelle Duray on How Women Can Do Nonprofit Leadership Better

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Janelle Duray, Executive Vice President of Jobs for America’s Graduates.

  1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
Janelle Duray
Janelle Duray, Jobs for America’s Graduates’ Executive Vice President (Image credit: Janelle Duray)

I always had ambitions to be at the table, but growing up on a family farm in rural Northwest Minnesota I didn’t have much exposure to those who had experiences outside of my own. Grad school brought me to D.C. and in my last semester, I started as an intern at Jobs for America’s Graduates, where I remain today (I know – rare these days to stick around so long, especially at the beginning of their careers). In the beginning, I couldn’t believe I was there and kept wondering “How did I get here?” The city, mission, impact, and access to people in power positions.  These new experiences had me second-guessing if my voice is valuable. But I knew that I had experiences that could provide insight. 

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What Robin Ganzert Knows About Creating a More Humane World

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Robin Ganzert, Ph.D., president and CEO of American Humane.

Robin Ganzert
Robin Ganzert, courtesy of Robin Ganzert
  1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

When I first started out in the philanthropy space, I wish I had known to stay laser-focused on an organization’s mission. There are a lot of distractions that can cause people to stray away from their organization’s key outcomes. It takes effort to ignore the noise. By using measurable outcomes to gauge mission success, you can make a meaningful difference in building a better world. I think that my ability to zero-in on the mission helped in the organizational transformation of American Humane. If I had recognized the importance of prioritizing the mission from day one, I would have made a larger impact immediately.  

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Nicole Boucher on the Unique Power of Women’s Lived Experiences

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Nicole Boucher, vice president of Way to Win and senior advisor to its 501(c)3 effort, Way to Rise.

Nicole Boucher, courtesy of Nicole Boucher

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession? 

What you most often see in philanthropy are people with high education degrees, family philanthropy full of people who grew up with privilege and wealth, generations of parents who attended college, etc. My own background doesn’t reflect that. Early in my career, there was a time when I hid who I was to belong. I would nod along in meetings as if I knew what they were talking about, and then rush home and Google and study up late into the evening to catch up. I now see that the power of my lived experience is one of great value in solving our nation’s most pressing problems, and the insights and strategies that I bring to philanthropy can go to bat with any Harvard Kennedy School graduate!

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Lis Williams: “I Had It Within Me To Create Something New”

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Lis Williams, Founder of AWE Partners, LLC, a social impact advisory firm that educates female entrepreneurs and executives on how to bake mission into their life and business for more passion, purpose, and profit.

lis williams
Lis Williams is the Founder of AWE Partners, LLC, a social impact advisory firm dedicated to educating and empowering female entrepreneurs. (Image Credit: AWE Partners/Elisabeth Williams)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I wish I had known that there was a way to blend all of my passions and turn it into a career. 

I studied business in undergrad and then went on to pursue my MBA. I loved business, but I was also passionate about making a difference in the world. At the time I was in the corporate world, back in the late 80s and 90s, there wasn’t as much opportunity to merge profit and purpose. And there certainly wasn’t as much of a concern for people and the planet! I wish I had known that I had it within me to create something new – a new way forward.

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Tracy Gary on Activating Donors for Gender Justice

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Tracy Gary, Philanthropic and Legacy Advisor at Unleashing Generosity.

Tracy Gary
Tracy Gary is a philanthropist, nonprofit entrepreneur, and legacy mentor who has worked tirelessly to help others experience the joy of giving charitable dollars to causes they care about. (Image Credit: Tracy Gary)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

My sense of abundance and true resourcefulness has come from giving and service to the nonprofit sector. We can’t do it well without mentors.

From the time I was first exposed to my parents’ giving and their encouragement about my donating, even as a teenager it was clear to me that determining what to give to and how possibly to choose amidst issues, populations and changes needed, would take careful community listening and some wise elder guidance or partnerships.

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