In June, a crowd of young nonprofit professionals gathered at the Virginia Holocaust Museum to hear Katie Botha, Vice President of Development & Communications at Special Olympics, share about her career journey at YNPN RVA’s Nonprofits@Noon event.
What is Nonprofits@Noon?
This professional development deep dive on “Nonprofit Career Journeys” is offered through the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network RVA (YNPN RVA). Attendees experience informative and insightful talk and discussion about building a career in the nonprofit field and have the chance to network with a broad range of nonprofit YPs at each event.
What did Katie have to say about leadership?
Katie brought along her dad to the event to share about the leadership model he has exemplified in her life. Katie’s dad is a retired high school principal who led his staff, teachers and students with an attitude of love. Katie’s dad has influenced her personal leadership style as she deeply values relationships with her colleagues. She explained that you must know the needs of your colleagues (especially those you manage) to build solid relationships – this is a process that takes time, clarity and trust.
She also talked about the importance of passing on responsibilities to the next generation. If managers build relationships of trust with their colleagues, those they supervise will be grateful. Katie noted that not only is it important to give other people a shot at a project or a new responsibility, but we must also recognize and take the shots that are given to us!
Lessons learned in the nonprofit field:
- To get promoted, you have to ASK. Katie shared that from experience she’s learned hard work and proactive engagement speak volumes about work ethic and determination. Sometimes those things aren’t enough to get a promotion – you have to ask for it! Building a strong relationship with your manager helps build trust and provides opportunities for discussions about advancement within the workplace.
- Reinvent yourself! This tip is especially true in the nonprofit sector because we’re often wearing so many different hats. A few years ago, Katie was awarded a Stettinius Award for Nonprofit Leadership through the Community Foundation. With her grant award she was able to receive credits toward a graduate degree in human resources. At the time, Special Olympics did not have a formal human resources employee, so Katie started adding those responsibilities to her role. This opened the door for her to work with other people and the work really interested and challenged her.
- Sometimes it’s good to do things that terrify you. Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations is usually a sign of growth. It’s important to have trusted mentors in your life who can check-in with you and make sure you’re stretching yourself. Katie’s advice? Surround yourself with people who will be real with you and tell you the truth (even when it’s hard to hear).
Stay tuned for the next Nonprofits at Noon event on September 12th with Elizabeth Bass, Executive Director of Virginia Mentoring Partnership! Registration opening soon!