Title: Director of Foundations
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
When did you start working for Heifer? November 2007
What attracted you to work for Heifer? When I first saw the ad for a Community Volunteer Coordinator in 2007, I had just moved to California from Canada and had honestly never heard of Heifer. However, the job seemed to be a good fit for my skills, so I decided to learn more about the organization. I can recall watching Heifer videos and becoming incredibly excited and moved by what I saw. In particular, there was a video of women from Cameroon singing together in celebration of Heifer. It was clear that this was an organization that brought transformational joy to people’s lives. Having worked with people with disabilities for many years, I was also profoundly moved by Heifer’s commitment to work with people with severe vision impairments, HIV/AIDS and amputees. When I was offered the job, I was overjoyed; I literally threw my hat in the air (in homage to Mary Tyler Moore). In February 2011, I joined the Corporate and Foundation Relations team as Senior Grant Writer; I'm enjoying this role, especially because I have the chance to interact regularly with the program staff.
What has been the most memorable experience you have had while working for Heifer? There are so many “Heifer Highs” to choose from, but I would have to say that leading the study tour to Bolivia in 2010 ranks at the top. I fell in love with the country, the people, and especially the incredible study tour leaders (former Heifer Bolivia staff Cinthya Linale and Marcelo Alvarez). We were honored to witness Filiberto Lopez be awarded the Golden Talent award. I will never forget him saying, “Everything I have done is for my community. That is why I am happy.” I hope to retire in Tarija, drinking fine Bolivian wine, someday.
My education includes: a PhD in American Literature. My dissertation was entitled “Crippled Bodies and Crumpled Selves: The Construction and Use of Narrative in Autobiographies by Disabled Americans.” I highly recommend Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face if you’re interested in the genre. I’m also really impressed by the new television show Push Girls, a reality show featuring four women who use wheelchairs for mobility. It’s great to see such a diverse representation of disability in popular culture.
My hobbies include: Weekly NIA classes (I describe it to people as one part martial arts, one part yoga, one part dance, and one part “goofing off”); watching way too many competitive cooking shows (despite being a terrible cook); reading, while eating really good cheese.
My family consists of: My husband Mike and our cockerpoo Gracie. Because we live in California and my extended family is all back home in Canada, we also have a revolving door of family visiting throughout the winters. It turns out that trudging out to unplug your car when it is 35 degrees below zero is not that much fun after a few weeks. Shocking, but true.
Something about me that you might not know: I was a synchronized swimmer for seven years. Competed at the national level, and my mother likes to say that I was “one step away from the Olympics!” This is not true….at all. However, I do have a deep (and faintly disturbing) familiarity with sequined swimsuits.
What is the best thing about working at Heifer? The people I’ve met over the years - including project partners, staff and volunteers. There are just so many generous, talented and passionate people working to achieve this mission all over the world. I feel lucky to work alongside them.