By Sarah Stouffer-Lerch
Every week, Page Hall opens its doors and serves Donato's pizza to the members of the John Glenn Civic Leadership Council (JGCLC). JGCLC, directly-affiliated with the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, hosts weekly talks by professionals in industries related to Public Policy.
On Thursday, February 13th, JGCLC welcomed three professionals who work in the non-profit industry: Steven Moore, Tracy Nájera, and Caitlin Purk. Moore was a former Associate Director of Foundation Relations at The Ohio State University and now works as Director of Donor Services and Development at The Columbus Foundation, the largest philanthropic foundation in Ohio.
Tracy Nájera received her BA in Political Science and International Studies, her MPA and Doctor of Philosophy all from Ohio State. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Children's Defense Fund of Ohio. Lastly, Caitlin Purk is a recent graduate of Ohio State University and now works as the Public Policy and Outreach Manager for the Central and Southern Ohio branch of the Alzheimer's Association.
All three professionals disclosed valuable advice and insight into their experiences in the non-profit industry. Moore revealed that although he entered the non-profit realm for pragmatic reasons, he stayed because he loved the sector, adding that “non-profit teaches you to grow and manage relationships.”
Nájera and Purk agreed that getting into the non-profit industry changed their careers and outlook on life, particularly in Purk's case, who said she entered the industry because she “wanted to help people.” She is doing just that at the Alzheimer's Association, whose Central Ohio branch offers several services to both those suffering from the disease and their loved ones.
The professionals also discussed common challenges within the non-profit industry. Due to high demands and workload, employee retention commonly suffers. Constant communication is a must-have in the industry, which Nájera knows from personal experience working at a multi-branch organization.
When it comes to starting a new non-profit, it is usually much harder than trying to expand an already established one. “It's a crowded field,” Moore noted, adding that brand strength usually trumps grassroots, bottom-up movements. The exceptions to that rule, such as Kids Ohio, are organizations that fill an empty niche and are true “value-adds to the sector.”
The professionals encouraged the attending members of JGCLC to enter the field and learn as much as they could from their professors and peers alike. “Don't be afraid to do scary things,” Nájera advised, “Carry your drink in your left hand so you can shake hands with your right.”
The JGCLC meets every Thursday at 6 pm in room 130 at Page Hall.