Favorite Part of Job? At VSA Vermont, we talk a lot about "using the magic of the arts." I feel so fortunate to work for an organization that touches the lives of so many people across the state and meeting the people we work with, partners, participants, and volunteers is truly inspiring. I get to make magic with an incredible team every day, and who doesn't love magic?
Most Inspiring Mentor: My most inspiring mentor in my life is my husband, Stephen. When we met he was the TA in my photography class, and since then he's always encouraged me to do and be my absolute best. His creativity, work ethic, and drive are unparalleled, and since we met 10 years ago I've been inspired every day to chase my dreams and work hard just by being around him.
Tell us something fun about yourself that few people know: I am a bit of a creemee connoisseur - I try new creemee places as often as possible and have a four star rating system, down to the sprinkles. If you need a hot tip on where the best creemee is in your area, I'm your gal. I am also the undefeated backgammon champion of our household (much to my husband's dismay).
Favorite Vermont Escape: Lake Willoughby is the best kept secret in Vermont, because it's like you're in another world. Truly, with all of the beauty here, the entire state is an escape.
Favorite Downtime Activity: In my downtime, which doesn't come often, I really enjoy cooking or anything remotely creative. I also like taking my dog for a walk in the woods with my husband.
Favorite Super Hero: Is Oprah an option? I would love to sit down with her for just five minutes some day.
Favorite Social Media: Instagram, because you can tell so much with just a picture.
Person you would like to share a Vermont beverage with: Vermonter: Madeleine Kunin
Non-Vermonter: Tina Fey
Where do you see yourself professionally in ten years? I feel as though the older I get, the vaguer my answer to this becomes. I see myself still working in the non-profit world, perhaps as an Executive Director or still working in communications and fundraising.
Career Highlights: Some of my career highlights include:
-Starting and successfully running my own photography business from the ground up. I shot a lot of weddings for free and now have so many inquiries I have to turn people away. I also operate under the belief that everyone should be able to have high quality work at an affordable price, and my work outside of photography allows me to keep costs to clients at a minimum.
-Accepting a position at VSA Vermont. It's not every day that someone gets to get paid to do what they love, and I have made a career out of TWO jobs that are in my field and bring me joy every day.
-Working with a team to overcome a potentially crushing financial deficit and coming out successful, part of which involved co-creating an entirely new fundraising event at Higher Ground.
-Taking 12 teens across the country to Joplin, Missouri to help rebuild after tornadoes destroyed many of the homes and business in town. If making it there and back with all of the kids in one piece isn't an accomplishment, I don't know what is!
Community Involvement: I grew up in a "volunteering family," with a firefighter/scout leader father and a mother who was on pretty much every parent committee, Girls Scout council, and church church group available. So, being involved and giving back is in my blood.
Currently, I volunteer my time mentoring an 11 year-old girl from Milton. We have been matched for almost three years and it's one of the best parts of my week. Being with her reminds me how important it is to be in the moment, and that personal connections really do matter.
I also recently joined the Board of Directors at the Winooski Coalition for a Safe and Peaceful Community, and started volunteering at Vermont Children's Hospital. Being on the board of WCSPC has me much more invested in the youth and future of the community in which I live. I'm energized by the staff and board of the organization, and know that Winooski will continue to grow, adapt, and thrive with organizations like this one leading the way!