The Best Advice I Ever Received

Attracted to the mission, I came to Catalyst a little over 20 years ago with the goals of contributing, in some small way, to the great work the organization was doing and to hone my administrative skills. I was a recent college grad, unsure of what I wanted to do with my life, but firm in my desire to work for an organization that had a strong sense of purpose and contributed to the greater good.

At Catalyst, I was struck by the number of exceedingly smart and accomplished women. I was surrounded by more women role models and mentors than I could have ever hoped for. Yet the advice of my very first manager is still something I always remember: “Be comfortable with ambiguity, because individuals who roll with the punches are the ones who rise to the top no matter what changes are taking place—and when you make a mistake, learn and move on quickly; don’t beat yourself up over mistakes, especially when they present an opportunity to learn valuable lessons.” She acknowledged that this is sometimes the hardest advice for women to follow, and I find that to be true.

I also learned the importance of building on one’s strengths rather than weakness; developing expertise in an area, yet being open and flexible to take on new challenges and opportunities; and nurturing coworker relationships. My years in the development function have led me to take on various aspects of fundraising, which allowed me to realize that I love making the big asks and working with companies and individuals on investments that create the biggest impact through their donations.

At the same time, I fully acknowledge that my most important partners in a successful outcome are my colleagues. I’ve never been afraid to ask others for help or admit when I don’t know something, which is often. I’ve found that if you are honest about what you don’t know, you’ll often be surprised by people’s generosity in offering their time and their willingness to help.