Leaving Well: Saying Thank You

It won’t come as a surprise that I hold Propel’s values as my own. Even the organization’s tagline, “You’re the champion of good. We’re the champion of you,” describes my feelings towards nonprofit executive directors and leaders. I need to start this final post of my Leaving Well series by saying: to those of you who work at a nonprofit, serve on a nonprofit board, or who retired from a life in the nonprofit world— I applaud you and what you bring to your work and to the world. Thank you. You have my respect, my support, and always my thanks for showing up the way you do. More than anything, you are my “why”—the reason I have loved this job and showed up every day. 

As I considered topics for this series, I knew one of my last tasks would be to express how grateful I am for 23 years working with you—the brilliant, inspiring people in and around the nonprofit sector.  

Thank you for trusting me and my colleagues at Propel to be your partners, and for holding us accountable to the promises we make to advance justice through our work. I am proud of the work we have done together to invest capital in the community, to offer guidance and training to nonprofit leaders and help develop proactive and attentive nonprofit boards, and always learn from you about what’s possible.   

Your curiosity about how to do things better and differently has inspired me and led to the creation of responsive programs, new possibilities, revitalized neighborhoods, social enterprises across the state, and so much more. It has been both fun and humbling to watch the ways in which you have intentionally shaped a better future for all of us and risen to challenge after challenge to keep our communities safe, healthy, and connected.  

I’ve had the opportunity to work with remarkable people and know that I’ve had a hand in work that matters. Some of it was big and public, and a lot of it happened in quiet conversations over coffee. All of it has been fun. It doesn’t get any better than that. 

For those of you who are partners with Propel, and funders who support us with grants and loan capital—I am grateful to you for your support, and even more for your belief in our vision and mission and for your trust in me. 

For those of you who are on the team at Propel—as members of the staff, Board, or the Loan and Fiscal Sponsorship committee, or have ever been part of the Propel, Nonprofits Assistance Fund, or MAP for Nonprofits teams—I am in your debt. We built this together and I’m grateful for your faith in me. You’ve brought gifts and wisdom that broadened my perspective, taught me a lot, sometimes challenged me, and in every way made me a better leader and a better person. 

When I was offered the position of executive director 23 years ago for the organization that would become Propel, I thought, “Well, that looks interesting. I’ll see what this is about.” I had a lot to learn and met nonprofit leaders who were generous with their time, their knowledge, and their wisdom. I have tried to carry that generosity forward. 

Now, I can reflect on my years in this role and sum it up with this: It certainly HAS been interesting, in all the good ways that nourished me every day, and in all the hard ways that molded me as a leader. I know that it is time for me to retire because I see the excellent hands you are in at Propel with a strong board, staff, and leadership team, and I see how our supporters, partners, and our nonprofit colleagues, are eager to do the work of building lasting organizations. 

I often say that I love nonprofits and I love nonprofit people. And that’s because people coming together to put in the work for the common good is the only way to create a healthy, vibrant, and more just community. It’s been an honor to be a part of it and no one is more excited than me to see what you all do next. 

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