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Time + Talent Podcast

Tobi Johnson & Jennifer Bennett: Volunteer management experts

18 episodes

Nov 9, 2020

Episode 209 - Becoming an Architect of the Volunteer Experience 

During Faiza’s work with volunteers, she has radically shifted how she sees her role and the work of leading and engaging volunteers. Initially, she focused on the processes - ensuring that her work, the work of onboarding and managing volunteers, was systematic and thorough. But now she sees her role as an internal consultant and facilitator to help ensure that others in the organization are successfully engaging and building relationships with volunteers. 

Faiza shares how the YMCA of Greater Toronto - the largest provider of childcare services in the Metro Area - has implemented this strategy. And, as she now sees that those processes and systems may actually limit or prevent volunteering, she has shifted to a more spontaneous and open process. Faiza also views her work as a type of activism - bring more people to volunteering as well as opening up roles to a more diverse population of potential volunteers.

While her work at the YMCA of Greater Toronto is important, Faiza’s own story and the journey she’s taken to shift her own mindset about the work of volunteer engagement and her role is just as important. By focusing on supporting, preparing, and inspiring others to engage volunteers she has moved her role from one of execution to one of leadership. Included in this work is the need to overcome prejudices and biases. Faiza has leveled the playing field for volunteers in her organization by exploring lived experiences and discussing what’s helping and what’s getting in the way. 

And this work paid off during the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic as the YMCA was able to adapt and adjust because of the groundwork Faiza had started well before the pandemic. 

You can learn more about how Faiza advocates for leaders of volunteers on the CCVA webpage and you can contact her on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/faizavenzant/.

Guest Bio:

Faiza Venzant CVA, CVRM General Manager, Volunteer Development YMCA Greater Toronto

From a young age, Faiza Venzant's parents instilled a strong sense of volunteerism in herself and her two older brothers. They, as immigrants to Canada from Uganda in the early 70s made a successful transition into Canadian life with the help of many generous volunteers. A volunteer herself from a very young age, she has been a champion for volunteer engagement for the last 20 years speaking, facilitating and continually learning from others internationally. 

She is currently Executive Director with the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration and General Manager, Volunteer Development at the YMCA of Greater Toronto.  Faiza maintains her CVA and CVRM certifications in the field of volunteer engagement.

Faiza is an active member and volunteer of the Toronto Association for Volunteer Administrators (TAVA), Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada (VMPC),  Professional Association of Volunteer Leaders – Ontario (PAVR-O and Association for Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE.)

In 2020, Faiza was the recipient of TAVA’s Innovation Award.  In 2019, she was the recipient of the inaugural IMPACT award in Canada for Exemplary Volunteer Leadership. From PAVR-O, she received the Linda Buchanan Award in 2013 and has twice received their President's Award.  

For More: For more on how other leaders have re-designed their roles to evolve and empower others, check out Season 1 of the Time + Talent podcast, Episode 106: Designing a Leadership Pipeline for 23,000 Volunteers.

Nov 2, 2020

Episode 208 - Transforming Your Volunteer Strategy from the Ground Up 

SOAR365 (formerly the Greater Richmond Arc) was founded 65 years ago by parents determined to find new and different ways to support their children with disabilities. The agency provides a range of services and employment opportunities for people of all ages with a wide range of abilities.

Alison was hired a few years ago to transform their volunteer strategy. With the agency goal of “becoming Best-in-Class in all that we do,” the agency’s executive director included volunteer engagement in that aspiration. He understood the power of volunteers and assigned Alison the task of remaking the volunteer program from the ground up.

Their ultimate goal has been to expand volunteerism to every corner of their agency. And, despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, they have been making headway. At the time of this interview, SOAR365 was participating in the Service Enterprise certification process and hoped to achieve certification by the end of 2020, the culmination of over a year of introspection and focused program development.

To bring about a total transformation in the ways they engage volunteers also requires the support of all staff. One of their key strategies for managing this change has been to offer training to employees on volunteer engagement.  It is now part of all new staff orientations and at the time of this interview, they began presenting to all current employees. The level of training depends on the level of volunteer interaction a staffer will have, but it is mandatory for everyone.

As a result of Alison’s work, the total number of volunteers at the agency has grown exponentially, proving that smart strategy and a bold vision can get results.

If you want to learn more about the work of SOAR365 and its impact in the community, visit https://www.soar365.org/.

You can also reach out to Alison via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/alison-jones-nassar-cva-73446515/.

Guest Bio:

Alison Jones-Nassar, CVAVolunteer Engagement ManagerSOAR365

Alison Jones-Nassar has served as the Volunteer Engagement Manager with SOAR365 since September 2017. Prior to SOAR365, she served in the same position for Virginia Supportive Housing (7 years) and the Children’s Museum of Richmond (6 years). She has been a professional in the field of volunteer engagement since 2007 and has a passion for connecting community volunteers to opportunities that serve and support vulnerable populations.

Alison has served a total of eight years on the board of GRAVA (Greater Richmond Association for Volunteer Administration), including two years as president, four years as secretary, and two years as professional development chair. She earned her CVA (Certification in Volunteer Administration) in 2011; completed the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders program in 2012; received GRAVA’s Volunteer Administrator of the Year award; and presented numerous basic and advanced volunteer management workshops locally and regionally.

At Virginia Supportive Housing, she led the entire organization through the Service Enterprise Initiative certification process, which promotes excellence in volunteer engagement through best practices, leadership, and strategic capacity-building. 

For More: For more on how another organization rebuilt their volunteer strategy from the ground up, check out Season 1 of the Time + Talent podcast, Episode 104: Using Radical Transparency to Build Volunteer Buy-In.

Oct 26, 2020

Episode 207 - Corporate Social Responsibility Its a Two-Way Street 

Show Notes:

Nicolle Lee from Voya Financial joins us to pull back the curtain and share her company's employee volunteer program's strategies. Voya Financial has just seen an increase in participation in their volunteer events they've also discovered additional benefits to deploying employees as volunteers in the community.

In the past, Voya Financial’s Employee Volunteer Program was similar to many - legacy events that were uninspired and unfocused. But not anymore. Voya decided to re-energize their EVP by focusing on completing activities that directly support their purpose to help “All Americans Retire Better.” 

Voya Financial also ensured that senior leadership was invested and involved in supporting, sponsoring, and participating in EVP activities. And the new Chief Diversity & Corporate Responsibility Officer and Foundation President ensured that Key Performance Indicators for the EVP were reported up to the Board of Trustees level to create even more accountability across all levels of the organization.

Initially, there was concern that these projects and events weren’t adding to productivity but in fact, Voya Financial has found the opposite to be true. Colleagues meet others through these informal events and are now collaborating across business practices and feel more connected so projects and priorities are easier to accomplish.

Focusing on the metrics and KPIs has also allowed Voya Financial Employees to understand how their work is so important, and they can feel good about giving back. It has helped employees see the value of the work they do with clients so they are prepared for retirement so they don’t need to depend on safety net programs. And, they’ve had 98% participation across their 6,000 employees.

During the Spring and Summer during the COVID-19 pandemic, Voya employees continued their work supporting the social safety net organizations like Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity.

For nonprofit organizations, it is important to find corporate partners that share your same commitment to the community. While nonprofits rely on volunteers from corporations, those volunteers have an opportunity to learn about the needs of the community and to help meet those needs through their volunteer activities.

Learn more about Voya’s corporate responsibility employee engagement practices: https://corporate.voya.com/corporate-responsibility/community-investment/employee-engagement

Guest Bio:

Nicolle Lee Manager, Strategic Projects Voya Financial

Nicolle Lee is a Transformation Manager at Voya Financial, where she also leads the corporate volunteering efforts for the New York office. Previously, she was an Associate on Voya’s Corporate Strategy team and developed Voya’s long-term strategy.

She serves as co-Chair of Habitat for Humanity NYC’s Young Professionals board and is passionate about issues at the intersection of finance, real estate, and public policy in order to build healthier communities.

Nicolle is currently pursuing graduate degrees at the Harvard Kennedy School (MPP) and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (MBA), where she is a Jay Knowles MBA Fellow studying real estate investing. She will graduate in Spring 2023.

For More:

If you are interested in more on Habitat for Humanity NYC’s Young Professionals group, check out Season 2 of the Time + Talent podcast, Episode 206: Strengthening the Impact of Young Professional Volunteers.

Oct 19, 2020

Episode 206 - Strengthening the Impact of Young Professional Volunteers 

Show Notes:

Like many organization’s Habitat for Humanity, NYC has faced challenges when tapping into the time and talent of young professionals, but Ricardo Sebastian seems to have found the secret to success!

When Ricardo took over the management of the Board he narrowed the focus of the Young Professionals Board to advocacy and fundraising and asked all current members to reapply. He wasn’t discouraged when only 3 existing members wanted to continue, and through careful and thoughtful recruitment he was able to build the Board to 21 members.

Prior to the pandemic, the Board focused on in-person events that focused on relationships and created member events that combined community, industry, and lifestyle activities all connected back to housing and the organization’s mission.

Ricardo’s approach focuses on flexibility and managing expectations, and he wants volunteers to find their passion even if it isn’t with the Young Professionals Board or Habitat for Humanity. He ensures that Young Professionals Board members are set up for success by deploying a 4 point system:

  • Prioritize the needs of the organization
  • Do what you say you’re going to do
  • If you can’t do what you said you’d do let us know
  • Meaningful financial contribution

He combines this with a very flexible leave system which includes professional leave, academic leave, and personal leave. Young Professionals Board members can take the time they need to manage other parts of their lives without feeling guilty. 

While this does create more management work Ricardo’s strategy is to create a long-term relationship with these volunteers and doesn't just see them as the volunteer they are today, but envisions how Habitat for Humanity NYC can be a part of their lives even after they’ve finished their time with the Young Professionals Board.

Ricardo also knows that most of the Young Professionals Board members don’t have an opportunity to say no in many parts of their lives, so he really sees this work as a way for them to practice saying no!

When the pandemic hit this flexibility and the open lines of communication served them well. The Young Professionals Board was able to mobilize quickly and were already prepared to jump in when other members needed to focus on work or home life. Young Professionals Board members have taken the lead on online and social media activities and they are working to move their Fall Gala online!

Guest Bio:

Ricardo SebastiánSenior Director, Strategic InitiativesHabitat for Humanity, New York City

Ricardo’s work brings people together, builds community, and creates a positive impact. In addition to producing events, he offers brand and talent management, and digital marketing services.

Beginning August 01, 2020, Ricardo started a new role as the Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives with Habitat for Humanity New York City. His journey with Habitat for Humanity began as a volunteer with the Habitat Young Professionals network, which led to signing Habitat NYC as a consulting client in 2017. He is honored and excited to take on his new role as they continue to develop and preserve affordable housing across all five boroughs.

For More:

If you are interested in more on how to build vibrant nonprofits governing an advisory boards, check out Season 1 of the Time + Talent podcast, Episode 108: The Rewards & Challenges of Nonprofit Board Diversity - Part 1 and Episode 109: The Rewards & Challenges of Nonprofit Board Diversity - Part 2.

 

Oct 12, 2020

Episode 205 - Digital Transformation as the New Normal - Moving Mentoring Online 

Oasis Institute is the largest intergenerational K-3 mentoring program in the nation with 83 school districts and 4000 tutors. The average volunteer is a 72-year-old woman - many are former teachers, moms, grandmas, or others who have worked with children. They volunteer for an hour a week, and with an average tenure of 17 years. All tutoring took place in person before COVID-19 required a pivot.

With shelter-in-place, they had to reinvent their whole program. Elizabeth worked to understand what volunteers wanted to do, what the school’s policies were, and what might work moving forward. She invited volunteers to come to the table with solutions with how they might feel comfortable continuing to mentor children through distance learning.

By prioritizing safely and inclusion Elizabeth was able to pivot her volunteer engagement strategy to work for both the students and the tutors. She included zoom training for the volunteers that wanted to participate and created a communication plan to keep in touch with the volunteers that didn’t feel comfortable moving to an online platform.

Over the summer, they launched a pilot program with several local libraries and were able to evaluate what worked and where they would continue to innovate to launch their program for the school year.

If you are interested in learning more about Oasis and their Intergenerational Tutoring Program, visit their website at https://tutoring.oasisnet.org/or follow them on Facebook and Twitter @OasisInstitute

If you want to reach out directly to Elizabeth, email her at epawloski@oasisnet.org.  You can also find Elizabeth on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethpawloski/

Guest Bio:

Elizabeth Pawloski, CVANational Director Tutoring Partnerships and ExpansionThe Oasis Institute

In her current role with Oasis, Elizabeth is responsible for the expansion of the Intergenerational Tutoring Program into new markets and the administration of the Senior Corps-RSVP federal grants. Elizabeth came to Oasis in 2014 with over 25 years of Volunteer Management experience. Elizabeth previously served as the Director of Volunteer Services at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Assistant Director of Membership Services for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri. Elizabeth has served as the President of the Metropolitan Volunteer Management Association, member of the United Way Volunteer Center Certification Committee and the University of Missouri System Administrative Leadership Development Program.  She is a certified Volunteer Administrator and a prior recipient of the St. Louis Volunteer Director of the Year Award.

Her Bachelor of Science Degree is in Business Administration from the University of Missouri - Columbia and she has completed post-graduate work towards a Master of Education degree in Counseling from the University of Missouri - St. Louis. 

She is passionate about volunteerism, intergenerational relationships, and being kind to others.

For More:

For more info on how organizations manage virtual volunteer engagement, check out Season 1 of the Time + Talent podcast, Episode 107: Digital Team Building with Remote Volunteers.

Oct 5, 2020

Episode 204 - Building Community Together - Online & During a Pandemic 

Cedars has been supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1919. They work together with the people they serve — as individuals deserving of respect, personal choice, and the chance to develop interests, skills, and independence.​

They’re residential and day programs are known for creating a life-affirming, loving environment in which personal accomplishments are celebrated, individual skills are recognized and participants are able to live creative, productive, and joyous lives.

But Cedars has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and a particularly devastating wildfire season in northern California. When the pandemic hit, the agency doubled down on their focused process to operationalize the organization’s values and considered how they would be reflected in their response to COVID-19. Their motto for weathering the crisis became “We show up.”

However, to keep their residents safe they have had to cancel all in-person volunteer opportunities and events. In response, they created a curated private Facebook channel to keep everyone -- residents, volunteers, staff, and donors -- up to date on developments.  It has become much more than a way to communicate; it has become a way to continue services and connections through Zoom classes and individual chats.

After the interview, Cheryl reported back that with their fall bowling fundraiser, usually done in person but converted to a virtual event, they achieved 147% of their revenue goal, making this pivot a successful one.

Because of their success with technology, they are also planning to move forward with an online store, to complement their brick and mortar gallery, where they will sell resident artwork.  

For more information on Cedars and their innovative programming, visit https://www.cedarslife.org/.You can find Cheryl on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cheryl-white-4113673a/.

Guest Bio:

Cheryl WhiteAssociate Executive DirectorCedars

Cheryl White is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who has worked in the field of developmental services for over 20 years. As a case manager and later a program director, Cheryl began her work in the field at Tierra del Sol – a day program for adults with intellectual disabilities in Southern California. 

After returning to her home in the Bay Area, Cheryl worked with the resource development team at Golden Gate Regional Center for nine years. Her focus at the regional center was on projects related to the development of services for individuals leaving state developmental centers, as well as projects to meet the needs of children and adults living in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. 

Currently, Cheryl is Associate Executive Director at Cedars, which provides residential and day programs for adults in Marin County, Cheryl has also worked as a clinician in private practice and a regional director of a national non-profit serving Job Corps youth.

For More:

For more info on how organizations manage virtual volunteer engagement, check out Season 1 of the Time + Talent podcast, Episode 107: Digital Team Building with Remote Volunteers.

 

Sep 28, 2020

Episode 203 - Dignity & Respect Extends to Volunteers Too 

Metrocrest Services in the greater Dallas Area provides food and support services to 600-800 clients a week. Food Pantry, Rides, Home Repair, Consignment Store, Ambassador - social media, represent MCS in the community.

While they had a diverse clientele, volunteers came from the surrounding suburbs and didn’t reflect the diverse community they served. Brittni really wanted volunteers to better reflect the community as well as inspire the next generation of volunteers. The community is beginning to gentrify but there are still needs. Brittni shares her personal story to educate volunteers, and there’s no judgment - the ability to volunteer is equitable.

Brittni treats everyone with dignity and respect and is shifting who a volunteer is. She has created opportunities for neurodiverse volunteers of all ages, court-ordered volunteers, intergenerational opportunities, and is actively recruiting Xennials.

You can access Brittni’s COVID-19 Checklist here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VPfBxjg_NUB7BxCjKEzzR3yjwBGZ9ucG/view

To contact Brittni you can find her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brittni-coe-607a151b7/

Guest Bio:

Brittni CoeVolunteer ManagerMetrocrest Services

Brittni Coe has been an active volunteer for most of her life.  She caught the service bug early during her twelve years as a Girl Scout, and through her service in the AmeriCorps National Service Program. For the past three years, Brittni has worked as the Volunteer Manager for Metrocrest Services in Texas. There she has been responsible for recruitment, training, and retention of the more than 5,000 volunteers who donate their time to help Metrocrest Services fulfill its mission of building a stronger community together. 

Brittni holds a bachelor's degree with concentrations in Sociology and Women's Studies from Texas Woman's University and holds a certificate for Non-Profit Management from the Center for Non-Profit Management in Texas.  She is passionate about doing her part to ' repair the world' by promoting volunteerism and sparking the passion to give back in others. 

For More:

If you’re interested in more on the benefits of treating volunteers with dignity and respect check out Season 1 of the Time + Talent podcast, Episode 201: Putting Volunteer Wellness first with Megan Vixie

Sep 28, 2020

Episode 202 - The Hard Truth: Diversity & Inclusion from the Volunteer Perspective 

After decades as a leader of volunteers for high-profile national charities in the UK, Helen Timbrell switched gears to work as an organizational development consultant and coach. This afforded her the opportunity to develop and collaborate on unique research, and with a PhD she has the ability to straddle both practitioner and academic worlds.

Earlier this year, Helen conducted qualitative research into the experiences of volunteers and race. “What the bloody hell are you doing here? A comparative study of the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and White volunteers in four organisations” was completed in March 2020.

The following four organizations participated in the study:

This rare, candid glimpse into the lived experiences and perceptions of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) and white volunteers is eye-opening and serves as a call to action for volunteer-driven organizations.

In this episode, Helen and Hadji share some of the results. We discuss the challenges volunteers of color face when contributing time and implications for future practice. 

If you would like to get a free copy of the research study, contact Helen at helen@helentimbrell.com. Hadji can be reached through Helen.

You can also find Helen on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/helen-timbrell-1800415/?originalSubdomain=uk.

Guest Bios:

Dr. Helen TimbrellPeople and Organisational Development Consultant

Helen works as a Consultant, Researcher and Coach, specialising in supporting charities to effectively blend staff and volunteer teams. Prior to working independently Helen was Director of People and Organisational Development at Samaritans, a UK charity working to reduce death by suicide and involving over 20k volunteers. Before that she was Director of Volunteering and Participation at the National Trust, a UK conservation and heritage charity involving over 65k volunteers.

Helen has an MBA, is a chartered member of the CIPD and is currently studying for an MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change. Her PhD explored geographical variations in volunteering in Scotland.

As a volunteer, Helen is a parkrun Event Director and a member of the HR Advisory Committee for Amnesty International UK.

Hadji SinghVolunteer/Volunteer Coordinator

Hadji was initially a research participant but became interested advocating and educating interested stakeholders about the results. He now presents regularly with Helen and shares his perspectives as a volunteer, participant, and now advocate.

For More:

If you are interested in more research on volunteer diversity, equity, and inclusion, check out Season 1 of the Time + Talent podcast, Episode 108: The Rewards & Challenges of Nonprofit Board Diversity - Part 1 and Episode 109: The Rewards & Challenges of Nonprofit Board Diversity - Part 2.

 

Sep 28, 2020

Episode 201 - Welcome to Season 2! 

What do you get when you interview a slate of talented leaders of volunteers and nonprofits professionals who understand the power of community? You get Season 2 of the Time + Talent podcast!

We couldn’t be more appreciative of our smart and dedicated guests this season and can’t wait to give you the rundown on what you can expect. We have deep respect for the talented people who lead volunteer programs -- their leadership skills are being tested in the current environment, but they are undaunted.

In the Season 2 kick-off, we discuss how putting relationships with volunteers front and center can allow for powerful changes whether they come from internal or external forces. 

We note that we still have a long way to go in terms of making volunteerism a welcoming place for people from all walks of life and that diversity in volunteer engagement isn't just something that happens. We all need to work to ensure that our organization's vision of volunteer engagement is more inclusive

Finally, we call out that digital maturity for volunteer organizations matters now more than ever and that it’s time to up our game.

It’s been an honor to interview our guests this season. They demonstrate so admirably that when things get tough, nonprofit leaders who build creativity and flexibility on top of a strong foundation are the ones that will be able to bounce forward from any crisis.

For More:

For an overview of the first Season of the Time + Talent podcast, check out Episode 101: Welcome to the T+T Podcast - Bold Practices in Volunteer Engagement.

Nov 25, 2019

109: The Rewards & Challenges of Nonprofit Board Diversity - Part 2 

In Part 2 Dabash Negash from NYC Service shares ideas for starting a conversation and setting some goals and practices to help your organization understand and achieve better Board diversity, equity and inclusion.

If you missed Episode 108 you can hear her discuss the results and findings from their survey and report on Board diversity in New York City.

In Part 2 Dabash discusses ways to take action on addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion for Board members.

Dabash encourages everyone to use the data in their report as well as other similar reports like the 2019 Volunteer Management Progress Report. https://volpro.net/volunteer-management-progress-report/

ABCs of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Articulate a common language. Define terms around diversity, equity, and inclusion, including privilege and power, and decision-making imbalances.
  • Build internal support to create change. Recruit champions, ambassadors, or advocates from the Board to influence the conversation. Communicate the ‘value-add’ of diverse Boards. And disrupt board complacency! Explain why the time to make changes is now.
  • Create and implement strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and practices. Determine what diversity, equity, and inclusion success look like for your organization? Establish specific and achievable goals so you can be accountable to your organization. Look holistically - not just at recruitment, but evaluate policies and practices that may limit diversity, equity, and inclusion.

To shift diversity, equity, and inclusion from a side priority to a core priority you need to revisit the goals and practices regularly. This isn’t something that just happens - it requires time, effort, and buy-in.

While these conversations can be challenging and difficult your organization will be stronger and better able to serve your community for taking these steps.

You can find the report and additional action ideas HERE

Guest Bio:

Dabash Negash

Chief of Staff

NYC Service, Office of the Mayor

Dabash Negash is the Chief of Staff at NYC Service, a division of the Office of the Mayor that builds partnerships to deepen and expand civic engagement through volunteer and service programs, creating sustainable change for our city’s greatest needs. Dabash oversees all of capacity building initiatives at NYC Service and recently published a report on Nonprofit Board Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in NYC last Fall, in partnership with Nonprofit New York. Prior to joining the Office of the Mayor, Dabash served as Deputy Director of the Fund for Public Advocacy, supported several political campaigns, and worked in the Obama Administration supporting operations.

You can find Dabash on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/dabash-negash-51a04882/

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