Do you have time for a second cup of coffee?
September 1st marked 2 months for me as the new executive director (ED) of Westchester Children’s Association (WCA). I was on the road for much of that time, first with my up-for-any-adventure husband on a 30th anniversary trip to the Pacific Northwest and California, then at a retreat for new EDs in Park City, Utah, with Partnership for America’s Children. So this job is still new, yet not brand new. I was with WCA for the past 10 years as deputy director and before that for 10 more as project coordinator.
I have a lot of history with this organization. I know where the bones are buried. But the view is different from the corner office. The 9 to 5 day is no longer mine. Plans, schedules, and commitments are made for me now. There are many more to dos, requests, questions, and concerns. The phone calls and emails are different because the final decisions are mine. I catch myself thinking, “I’ll just run this by Cora,” my predecessor, only to recall that I’m the new ED and she is off somewhere buying tiles for her kitchen or doing some other fun, retiree thing.
Don’t get me wrong. I‘m glad for Cora and excited for myself. And I don’t mind telling you that I’m quite capable of handling whatever comes across my desk. It’s just that my days are different. For one thing, they’re much longer, especially when I have my own to-do list to get through. I’m reminded again and again that leadership is all about service.
So I am digging in to reauthorize the agency’s health insurance options, scheduling board and committee meetings, working with my treasurer on the chart of accounts, drafting grants and conferring with my highly capable staff to decide on a new phone system. (Does one go to the cloud or not? And if you go, can you ever return?)
It’s an adjustment to see others on staff take the lead on program and issue work — keeping children in positive learning environments, investigating homelessness among school age kids, planning WCA’s Vision 0 to 3 advocacy conference and seeing that implementation of New York State’s recent “Raise the Age” (RTA) legislation is done right. While the ED’s job is a few degrees removed from front-line advocacy work, the issues remain close to my heart.
I am also excited for what’s new at WCA. We plan to flip our traditional Vote4kids initiative from asking candidates what they will do for youth to asking young people to tell us about their concerns. We are also working to release online community snapshots, featuring key data points about every school district in Westchester County.
We will continue to partner with Nonprofit Westchester to educate nonprofit staff on voter engagement and will invigorate our Campaign for Kids (CFK) partners to advocate for a county budget and funding that meets the needs and priorities of our children and youth.
I hope you will join us, work with us, include us — and sit back with a second cup of coffee while you read my musings.