Just like that, my first ten years at the OCF have come and gone. I am truly blessed to be in this position, surrounded by talent, generosity, and true love for the community. Kind of like parenting, some days are long, but the years fly by. They say “music takes you places” and in my career at the OCF, I have often connected different experiences to songs. Sometimes it’s the lyrics, sometimes it’s the beat, sometimes it’s the way the moment makes me feel. In honor of the people and places that have shaped my first decade at the OCF, here is a list of my top ten songs! 

  1. We Are Family, by Sister Sledge – Just a few months after I started, Chip Hansen from Charlevoix County Community Foundation reached out and invited me to a meeting with other Executive Directors from Community Foundations in Northern Michigan. This group is cost-efficient professional development and has been a wealth of information, source of inspiration and just plain fun, too. While we meet quarterly, not a week goes by that we are not asking questions and or sharing wisdom from our experiences in this precious field. High high hopes we have for the future…we are family.
  2. Angels Among Us, by Alabama – Over the years, angels have fed my body and soul. Whether stopping by the office for a little visit, a note in the mail or a text, these interactions have filled my cup. In addition to the little pick-me-ups, these angels have brought me lunch, dressed me for Extreevaganza, provided new office equipment and more. They show us how to live, to teach us how to give…
  3. This Little Light of Mine, by Odetta – Within our community are thousands of volunteers, each one a source of light. Providing random acts of kindness, running organizations, such as the Otsego County Food Pantry, and sharing their gifts “all around the neighborhood.” Particularly this past year, the nonprofit community has really come together, and when you gather many little lights, it becomes a bright beacon. I’m gonna let it shine.
  4. If I Had A Million Dollars, by Barenaked Ladies – I have never been motivated by money and truth be told, one of the first things I did when hired was look up how many zeros were in a million. Yep, I’ve never really needed to know that prior to being in this position. I often think of this song when working with nonprofits. I love to imagine what could happen if we were able to invest sizeable grants into these grass roots organizations. If I had a million dollars, I would infuse it into the Community Fund and know that for the rest of time that gift would continue to make good things happen in Otsego County. If I had a million dollars.
  5. Lean On Me, by Bill Withers – As a nonprofit employee, I report to a board of directors. The size of the board has ranged from 7-17 since I started and that means a great mix of talented people. Lucky for me, whatever seems to be happening in the organization that is beyond my skill set, a board member is there to lean on and learn from. Finance, investments, human resources, etc, it has been an interesting journey uncovering these talents and a game changer for the organization. I just might have a problem that you’ll understand.
  6. Take Me Home, Country Roads, by John Denver – Place-based philanthropy is all about targeting a specific location, focusing charitable resources and making a transformative impact. As each grant goes out of the Otsego Community Foundation, my hope is that it improves lives and helps to make our community a great place to live, work and play. Additionally, may the youth have the wind beneath their wings to fly away and return home to the place I belong.
  7. Independent Women, by Destiny’s Child – I can’t help but to honor the amazing diverse women in this community.  So many of you have provided mentorship to help me grow as a person, professional, mom, wife, athlete, friend, etc.  The paths you have paved, the examples you have set, the lives you have touched – wow. We recently hosted 100+ Women Who Care, and for the sixth row in a year together we made a big impact. The word “independent” sparks different thoughts for different people. For me, independent women show up and do their part to help make the world a better place. All the ladies, who truly feel me, throw your hands up at me.
  8. My Next Thirty Years, by Tim McGraw – As I turn this page, I can’t help but to think ahead. It is exciting to have some years behind me and know that the things that used to keep me up at night are now totally doable. While there are challenges ahead, I feel wiser and have a better grasp on staying calm, now I’ve conquered all my adolescent fears.
  9. Stand By Me, by Ben E. King – This goes out to my teammates at the OCF.  Small but mighty, Karin Beyer and Amanda Sosa have been with me through thick and thin. DEPENDABLE like no other trio, we are dedicated to doing whatever is needed. No I won’t be afraid.
  10. Happy, by Pharrell Williams – Connecting people who care to the causes that matter, how cool is that? While there is plenty of behind the scenes work that goes into it every day, happy is the best way to describe how I feel when that connection is made. The joy in the donor to be making a difference, the gratitude oozing out of the nonprofit that has been granted the resources to do their job. Clap along if you know what happiness is to you.