Today is my last day on staff of the Bay Area Open Space Council.
For the past 7 years I have convened, organized, and fundraised for this small but mighty organization. Some of the things I have worked on include:
- Creating, launching, and growing Outdoor Voice to engage Bay Area park users in supporting the natural places they loved
- Creating and launching a Leadership Development Program for young adults to get a step up into land conservation
- Producing an award-winning film about partnerships between Native Americans and land conservation organizations
- Producing 7 Open Space Conferences and 30 Gatherings
- Writing countless enewsletters, blog posts, and social media posts about projects like the Conservation Lands Network
- Raising millions of dollars
- And creating the governance structure, policies, and systems when we incorporated as a nonprofit after 20+ years as a fiscally sponsored project.
I know the Bay Area Open Space Council inside and out.
My mom can tell you that I’ve always enjoyed learning curves, particularly steep ones. Even as a kid I loved new situations where I had to figure out how it all worked. There’s something about the unknown and the discovery that energizes me. In the fall of 2016, I had that feeling that it’s time for something new. I was ready to stretch out my wings and see where the wind will take me next. I decided to take the leap, leave the comforts of the Open Space Council, and find my next learning curve.
I have gathered, learned, and gained a lot during my time at the Open Space Council. I mean, in addition to the mountain of chocolate that colleagues have showered on me. Because I will be taking all that chocolate. I will be also taking with me things like:
Respect for land conservation
During my time at the Council I worked with our 65 member organizations and many partners and funders to understand their challenges and opportunities, and to understand as deeply as I could how land conservation works in the Bay Area. I greatly admire and respect everyone who works in land conservation. You are doing some of the most important work anyone can do. You are protecting land from unfettered development and conserving parks, farms, ranches, trails, and other kinds of open spaces. You’re doing this for us living here today, and for generations to come. And that’s beautiful, powerful, and essential.
A deeper understanding of myself
We all have super powers. We all have skills and talents and ways that our brains work that allow us to do things that others can’t. Over the past 7 years I have learned about myself that I have a knack for communicating, convening, and leading. It’s work that doesn’t feel like work to me. More than that, though, my time at the Council has taught me a lot about my values and what matters to me. These are definitely things that I will take with me for the rest of my life.
Friendships and solidarity
I am grateful for everyone I worked with at the Council, including the Board of Directors, Advisory Council, staff, and contractors. You politely nodded your head when I shared another off-the-wall idea. You were supportive, encouraging, and good partners. I have learned something from each and every one of you, and that is gold in my book. Thank you all.
Words can’t express how much I value our friendships and colleague-ships (that’s a word, right?). So I’m not really going to try here. The way I know to communicate this is through a hug, a shared joke, and by breaking bread together. We aren’t done yet, anyway. I’m not going away. I’m just changing email addresses.
My next step professionally is to work with land conservation organizations as a consultant. I’m currently on contract with some great organizations like Bay Nature Institute, East Bay Regional Park District, Sempervirens Fund, and Vizzit Places. I’m doing some work with the Center for Nature and Health at Children’s Hospital Oakland and Latino Outdoors. I’m working on projects that involve strategy, coalitions, constituency building, convening, communications, and fundraising. The need for our collective work is bigger than ever. And I look forward to contributing my skills and passion to the effort.
Sometimes we need to close one door in order for another to open. Today my time at the Open Space Council comes to an end, but it’s not “the end.” It’s the beginning of something new, and I can’t wait to see what happens. Somewhere out there is a new learning curve to climb.