I was looking for a job, and then I found a job, and, heaven knows, I’m overjoyed now. True story.
I have spent the past few years building up my communications consulting business, working with Bay Area nonprofits and philanthropies. It was interesting working with different organizations and rewarding assisting them in their communications campaigns. What I liked less was the search for business opportunities and the uncertainty that comes with being an entrepreneur. That second aspect was particular stressful knowing that I had a baby on the way.
It is an overwhelming and wonderful feeling to know that you will soon be welcoming a new person into the world – and that you’ll be responsible for that new person, forever. That knowledge also complicated the search for a full-time, permanent position. As the due date neared, I felt a bit of tension with potential employers; do I tell them about the baby, or not?
How fortunate I was, then, to have the chance to interview at International Development Exchange (IDEX). I figured they already knew about the baby when they asked me to interview because of my connection to one of IDEX’s board members. It turns out they were not aware. When I told them we were expecting, though, they welcomed the prospect openly.
They also welcomed me, after a few further rounds of interviews. I was thrilled to accept IDEX’s offer for the position of Development and Communications Manager. I started in late July. The job and the organization were both brimming with possibilities to engage in deeply exciting and rewarding projects.
IDEX is not the average international development organization. They have a unique model that focuses on forging strong partnerships with grassroots, locally led organizations through long-term unrestricted funding. (Read more about it here) They aren’t like the big development banks that squander money on bureaucracy and layers of consultants. They aren’t even like a lot of big foundations which only give grants to development schemes that make sense to their Western, developed-world preconceptions. IDEX trusts the indigenous knowledge of development practitioners on the ground and, after identifying and vetting them, helps them dramatically increase their reach and impact.
It’s heady stuff.
IDEX is led by the inimitable Vini Bhansali. (You can see a series of video clips of her in conversation with Jonathan Lewis on iOnPoverty.) On the Development and Communications team, I have the pleasure of working under Pilar Gonzales, a fundraising maven and peaceful warrior for social justice. The rest of the staff have greatly impressed me with their warmth, capabilities, sagacity, energy and dedication to the cause. There is also an extraordinary team of interns and volunteers that further IDEX’s work in myriad ways.
My work in particular should be an exciting area of growth and experimentation for the organization. The stories behind IDEX’s groundbreaking contributions to development and social justice are ripe for sharing. There is so much potential for spreading these narratives through new media forms and networks. Best of all, the organization culture at IDEX is entrepreneurial, experimental and forward-looking. So, there won’t be a sort of institutional inertia and hesitancy to contend with. The only limits to the creativity and excitement that the DevComm team can contribute are logistical ones.
It’s been said that a baby is “a dream of all possibilities”. And, indeed, I’ve found that anticipating a baby is exhilarating (and, at times, anxiety-producing) precisely because of the boundless potential they embody. Starting at IDEX has that same feeling. The entire team is at the cusp of pluripotency, and we’re all as eager to see what we can make happen from the wealth of possibilities as I am to see the person my daughter will become.