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Volunteer

Volunteer Spotlight: Jared Longmore

Volunteer Spotlight: Jared Longmore

Volunteer Spotlight with Jared Longmore
Associate Director of Advancement for Athletics, University of Rochester

Can you talk a little bit about the work you do at University of Rochester?
My current position is Associate Director of Advancement for Athletics at the University of Rochester. Most of my work is cultivating donors who can reasonably give at the major gift level over a 5-year period. The majority of my job is to build long term relationships with donors. I like to say I am in the business of creating transformational relationships rather than transactional. My ultimate goal is to try and find a project that a donor is super passionate about and funnel them towards a positive relationship with the University.

How did you get involved in development work?
I think, like most people, I kind of stumbled into development. I was at Colorado State, finishing up my graduate degree in English. A friend of mine, who was working at Foodlink told me about an open grant-writing position. I naively thought that if I studied English, I would be able to write anything, including grants. I realized that wasn’t the case but instantly clicked with the nonprofit world. About 3 ½ years ago, the opportunity to work for the U of R came up and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse. As a first-generation college student, it was really important for me to be on a campus so working for one was almost like a dream come true.

The U of R has a pretty amazing reputation in Rochester. What do you think is the secret for why it’s such a successful organization?
I guess there are two parts to that. I think the reason the U of R has such a successful reputation in the community is because of its motto, Meloria. Meloria is Latin for “ever better” and the U of R lives and breathes that every day. It’s unique to find an organization so committed to its brand but it’s true that we are always trying to do better than we did yesterday. Secondly, I think the ability to grow and specialize in one area of interest adds to why people love working there. Everyone at the U of R is an expert at what they do; you are able to immerse yourself in that field. I know that has been one of my favorite things about working at the U of R.

How did you first hear about Causewave and what motivated you to get involved with us?
When I was at Foodlink, part of my responsibilities included being on the direct mail team. It’s a pretty big program and Foodlink has been quite successful in that area but we had no perspective on it. We didn’t know how we compared to others in the field and hadn’t done a deep dive into our data. Another team member and I decided to come to Causewave for a Coffee and Consult. Ultimately the conclusion was that Foodlink was doing great, and we didn’t need additional support from Causewave. I remember thinking how this was a core part of what Causewave does, but yet they’re telling us not to take their services. This was a level of expertise and integrity that I had not seen before.

Everyone has different ideas about how to make a difference in the community. What’s your philosophy?
I think people have an obligation to pay it forward. Everyone has a different skill set, by recognizing that and owning it, people can find those opportunities that allow them to use their unique abilities. For me, I am comfortable with the fundraising side of things and that’s where I think I can volunteer my skills to have the biggest impact.

You’ve been involved in two really important fundraising plans with Causewave, what sticks out to you as the most rewarding?
Honestly, both projects I worked on were really rewarding for me. I had little to no knowledge of the true role the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Gillam Grant Community Center played in their respective communities. And when you looked closer, each organization was filled with these talented and hardworking individuals, who for the most part, are volunteers. But what made these projects so exciting was the fact that they had so much untapped potential and were so willing to listen to what Causewave had to say. I think small nonprofits don’t always realize there are simple things they can do to make themselves more efficient. Seeing first-hand how our advice was really able to make a change is pretty rewarding.

Do you have any thoughts or advice for other people who volunteer with us or in the community?
Like I said before, people have an obligation to pay it forward. Everyone can find the time to give back in some way, maybe it’s monetarily. Personally, I strive to volunteer and donate. As a W.B. Potter Society Member, I feel as though both my donations and professional skills are being put to good use. Something that’s unique about volunteering with Causewave is that there is this multiplier effect around the work you do. By working with so many organizations, Causewave is helping all of them become better and in turn, that helps those organizations serve the community better. By volunteering in that way, Gilliam Grant is hopefully a little bit better, National Women’s Hall of Fame is hopefully a little bit better and the communities they serve are hopefully a little bit better. At Causewave, you are surrounded not only by passionate, hardworking staff members but you are exposed to numerous other passionate and hardworking organizations in the community striving to make it better.

What might be something readers are surprised to know about you?
I have an underground supper club! We usually do a multi-course meal that is inspired by a part of the world. Our next dinner is French inspired.

How do you drink your coffee?
Just black. I’m pretty simple.

If you could live anywhere on this planet, where would you choose to live?
I love Rochester- but I guess that’s a pretty boring answer. There are other places that are beautiful; like when I lived in Colorado or visited Portugal. But, all of my family is in New York, so it’d be tough to leave. Rochester all the way!

Any final thoughts you would like to share?
I think people should get involved. I think people should find things they’re passionate about and should do them. Reach out and be open to new opportunities. It’s really easy to say “no” to things, but people should just try saying “yes” more often; usually good things happen!

Spotlight: Gladys Pedraza-Burgos

Spotlight: Gladys Pedraza-Burgos

Volunteer Spotlight Interview with Gladys Pedraza-Burgos
Chief Operating Officer, Ibero-American Action League Inc.

How do you drink your coffee?

I liked mine with flavored cream, something sweet like hazelnut.

Can you talk a little bit about the work you do at Ibero-American Action League? Why you got involved and how long have you been working there? 

Well, I’ve been involved with Ibero my whole life; my Dad was a founding member so it’s always been a big part of my life. In high school, I worked part-time and volunteered whenever I could. Before I started my current position, I was on the Board for about 7 years. Currently, I am the Chief Operating Officer and have been for just over 5 years. I’ve done so much with Ibero, it's better to ask what I haven’t done!

We have heard so much about your commitment to Rochester, specifically with the Hispanic community and the resettlement of displaced Puerto Ricans from Hurricane Maria. What has motivated you to get so involved with the community?

I think it’s my upbringing. Both of my parents valued people who worked hard, and who were courageous. They've instilled their strong values in me, not only by teaching me but by their actions as well. I was able to see first-hand how hard my Dad worked at making Ibero a meaningful organization. His strong commitment and dedication really impacted my life. Plus, I have a really good reminder to "Be the Change" when I come into work and see the Ibero mural outside our offices. It forces me to ask myself every day: Am I doing enough to make a change? (Ibero mural pictured above!)

You’ve done a ton to support Causewave’s work, including being an influential member of both the Every Minute in School Matters and Unintended Pregnancy Reduction steering committees. But what volunteer role sticks out as most rewarding?

While I have really enjoyed my time working on the Unintended Pregnancy Reduction Campaign (and I am so excited to see our hard work pays off), I have to say the most rewarding role has been working with the Every Minute in School Matters campaign.  As the first person in my family to graduate high school and college, I am a huge proponent of education. I believe that the right education will pull people from poverty and into prosperity. Therefore, I see, the issue of student absenteeism as a very critical issue. Parents simply weren’t aware of the effects of missing even two days of school. This campaign is focused on educating and encouraging parents to get their kids to school. Since the beginning of its launch, I have seen a real shift in attitude towards a child’s attendance and I am so happy to have been a part of that work.

Are you working on any projects right now that you are particularly excited about?

Wow, there is so many it’s hard to pick just one. However, I am really excited about working with The Children’s Agenda, a local nonprofit that advocate for kids. We have partnered with them to ensure Rochester City School District (RCSD) provides an equal education to all its students, no matter their background. In the upcoming school year, there will be 600 new kids and we are working with RCSD to help prepare the schools for the influx of these students. Ibero and The Children’s Agenda’s main role will be to advocate for these new children.  

The project I am most proud of is, the resettlement of over 3,000 displaced Puerto Ricans. After Hurricane Maria, Ibero led local relief efforts, which meant coordinating with 25 other agencies. Many Puerto Ricans were coming over through November, December and January, and as you can imagine, there was quite an adjustment period (especially with the snow). Our job at Ibero was to help these people build a new reality and settle in. We provided everything from food, shelter and healthcare providers. 

Do you have any thoughts or advice for other people who volunteer with us or in our community?

Rochester is a community that is not only culturally diverse but also has a variety of life stages. We have people who are retiring, people who are in the middle of their careers, and people who are just beginning their professional journey. Volunteering provides a different avenue for each of those populations and has so many benefits. It allows you to step out of your comfort zone both professionally and personally, it allows you to live out your values, and I believe it's the most rewarding job there is. Volunteering is a way to show you care about others; it’s a way to stay connected and show your gratitude for your ability to share your knowledge. It gives you the ability to know you have made a real difference in the community. Rochester might be cold, but our community knows how to keep everyone warm!

If you could sit on a bench in a beautiful woods, who would you like sitting next to you on the bench?

Well, I would want someone who’s talkative; I don’t just want someone who is just going to sit there and not say anything! I think I would like to have my Dad, he passed away recently and he loved nature so I would love to be able to sit next to my Dad and just talk for awhile. 

What might readers be surprised to know about you?

Oh! That’s an easy one, I love Star Trek! I just love the creativity and the connections between our world and theirs. They struggle with similar social problems but learned how to embrace the diversity. My dream is that we have a world like that, a world where we celebrate and appreciate what makes us unique. 

Any final thoughts you would like to share?

Live long and prosper!

Spotlight: Lisa Chen

Spotlight: Lisa Chen

Volunteer Spotlight Interview with Lisa Chen
Principal, Lisa Chen Research Consulting

Can you talk a little bit about your work?

I’ve spent most of my career doing qualitative market research with potential customers. The research I do is typically quite detailed and in-depth — I delve into deep questions and really get to know people. My work is about revealing the narrative story to clients and solving the disconnect between the end results and the means to how we got there. Most often, this takes the form of in-person and online focus groups.

How’d you get into market research?

I first started working in Sesame Street’s research department when I was in graduate school for Developmental Psychology at NYU. In that role, I talked to a lot of two- to four-year olds to assess the appeal of characters and comprehension of the educational content.

You’ve done a ton to support Causewave – what motivates you to be involved?

I love the causes that Causewave is behind. In particular, I care a lot about diversity and inclusion initiatives — it was the focus of my studies and I wrote my dissertation on racial/ethnic socialization among Chinese immigrant families. That’s why I got involved in the Race and Media project, which I believe is going to make an important impact when the study results are announced. 

In recent years, I’ve realized I also need to consider taking on leadership roles; that it’s not always enough to be a committee member. I take my Causewave work and my board position at www.RochesterKids.org very seriously. I try to look towards the future and think about what mark I want to make with my social justice work, and so that’s why I step up.

Capacity building is at the core of all our projects. Our Senior Program Manager Stacey Saracene said you recently helped to build our own team’s capacity by training her in how to organize a focus group. Why do you think capacity building is important or why you enjoy it?

For years I’ve worked in a small boutique firm where I rarely have the opportunity to mentor any more. I love being around young, vibrant people, so I miss that. Plus, that was for the Diversity of Opportunity (DO) Partnership, an important project gathering feedback from urban and suburban parents about new opportunities to increase the socioeconomic and cultural diversity of the city schools. 

You’ve done a ton to support Causewave’s work lately, including focus groups RCSD, Student Attendance Initiative, Hillside Foster Care, an Opioid Prevention Project. Do any of those roles stick out as particularly rewarding?

Carly Layton from Hillside followed up after the Foster Care project and let me know how successful that campaign was in attracting new foster parents. Typically when conducting a research study, I don’t get to hear the final results or impact of the research. Learning about the people who foster children in our community gave me a whole new outlook on parenting. How does a person take in six foster kids when I can’t even get mine to soccer on time? It’s incredible what foster parents do by opening their hearts and their homes.

What might readers be surprised to know about you?

One day I think it’d be fun to see if I could pull off being a blond.

Spotlight: Sara Wallace

Spotlight: Sara Wallace

I think of Butler/Till as a media planning company. What does that mean and how do you describe your role there?

Media is such an interesting term…it makes a lot of people think of print ads or the ads they see on Facebook. As part of the Account Team, it’s our responsibility to tell our clients and our partners what we can really bring to the table. It’s not just that we can buy this print ad or that digital ad for you – it’s using media to spread the right message in the right places at the right time and making smart decisions in the future based on the insights we gain.

Butler/Till has a reputation as a great place to work. What do you think is the secret sauce?

The reason why I came here was the culture. I knew I wanted to be around good people, who are highly motivated and want to make the organization stronger. Part of why Butler/Till is like that is because the interview process focuses on how candidates will add the the culture. Once we're on board, we're an employee-owned company, so everything we do directly affects the business, no matter your title. The leadership here does a great job talking about that and attributing every achievement to their entire team.

You’ve volunteered (a ton) with us both as a representative of Butler/Till and as an individual. What made you want to become so involved?

At Butler/Till one of our principles is to step up and not out. It doesn’t just apply to our internal work here, it speaks to reaching out and investing in the Rochester community as well. One way I do that is by participating in projects with Causewave. When moved here in 2015, I wanted to get more involved because I’m not originally from Rochester. I needed to learn more about this community and understand what Rochester is so I was asked to consider the board position. Originally it was to get a better feel for everything, but now it’s become something that just feels good to be a part of.

The media landscape is always changing. How do you keep up?

I was recently out on maternity leave for 12 weeks. On my first day back at work, I sat in on a conference call. After about 20 minutes I got up and walked out. I was so overwhelmed about how much had changed in just 12 weeks. Audiences shifted and the information you can pull from platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn had changed. You can never sit back...keeping up is a constant project. What helps, is that on every team here, we have designated experts who dedicate time monitoring new trends and act as resources to catch the rest of us up. I also subscribe to a boatload of newsletters and spend 15 minutes in the morning to skim them.

Anything else going on in your life right now you want to share?

I had a baby girl four months ago, so that’s definitely the biggest thing going on in my life right now. It has completely changed me in a lot of ways I didn’t expect. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and having a girl in particular has made me think about what kind of woman I want my daughter to become and what I can do to lead by example. I have a real opportunity to stay involved, get more involved, and then be able to get my daughter involved too. I want her to learn about giving back and staying true to her beliefs and accepting of others.

Spotlight: Elizabeth Chatterton

Spotlight: Elizabeth Chatterton

We recently sat down with Liz Chatterton to chat about her work, volunteer service, and of course, beer advice: 

M: Can you talk a little bit about what you do?
E: I’m a copywriter by trade. I work with The Zimmet Group on all kinds of communications writing. We primarily do training and development work and e learning. So, I work on whatever writing needs to get done here. It comes in many different forms.

M: How did you first get involved with Causewave?
E: I’m originally from Rochester, but I lived in Buffalo for six years after college. I was very involved in the Advertising Club there and really enjoyed being a part of that larger marketing community. When I moved back to Rochester, I wanted to get involved and found Causewave. It seemed like a great fit, because it offers a chance to combine volunteering and my professional life.

M: You’ve done a ton to support Causewave’s work lately, including participating in our event committee, attending various strategic roundtables, and leading fundraising efforts and events. Do any of those roles stick out as particularly fun or rewarding?
E: Last summer, I helped with the Join the Wave Indiegogo campaign. There was some added pressure because we had a specific goal and it was important to meet it, but that just made it more rewarding, once we were successful.
M: Well our team is so excited to see all that work and the generous contributions come to life in the construction.  

M: Everyone has different ideas about how to make a difference in the community. What’s your philosophy?
E: I try to pick causes that are relevant to me personally. I’ve volunteered with Gilda’s Club in the past because a lot of people in my family were impacted by cancer, including cousins who lost their mother when they were very young. So, it was important to me to volunteer with Gilda’s programs for kids. That was an amazing experience, but at the same time I also want to think about how I can make the biggest impact. I have certain talents – so while I loved playing air hockey and coloring, my time is limited and I feel like I can make a bigger impact using my professional skills to make a difference.

M: Are there any personal projects you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?
E: I’m currently working on my first book. It’s a collection of human-interest stories that are particularly relevant to the Rochester community. I’m working on the details now, so stay tuned. I’m also planning an upcoming comedy night fundraiser to benefit the Every Minute Matters Initiative. I think it will be a fun way to support a good cause – and it’s a little bit different than some of the other events coming up.

M: I’ve heard you’ve a beer aficionado. Is there anything you’ve tried recently that you’d recommend?
E: I like to support local breweries as much as possible – and Switftwater and Stoneyard are two of my favorites. The Swiftwater DIPA, Brah is delicious, if you like citrusy IPAs. 

M: What might readers be surprised to know about you?
E: It’s generally surprising to people that I worked in the beer industry for seven years. I probably know more about beer than most big, burly, bearded men.  That’s unexpected.

M: Any last thoughts you’d like to share?
E: This seems like a pivotal time for our country and I’ve gathered that a lot of people are looking for ways to make an impact. It’s a great time to get involved in an organization that’s important to you - or step up what you’re already doing. It might seem like a small thing, to volunteer your time but if everyone does these small things we can make some big changes.

-March 8 Interview with Marta Driscoll and Elizabeth Chatterton

 

Spotlight: Steve Marikos

Spotlight: Steve Marikos

We recently met with Steve Marikos to learn about his experience partnering with Causewave:

Can you talk a little bit about what you do?

When you boil it down, I’m a small business owner. I’m an insurance agent, though I like to say I’m in the protection business. We protect personal property, and offer life insurance, retirement assets, and voluntary workplace benefits.

In November, I celebrated my 40th anniversary with Allstate. I’ve worked since I was 9 years old and I’ve only had 2 employers: my dad’s restaurant and Allstate.  

How did you first get involved with Causewave?  

A few years ago, when the Allstate Foundation first considered sponsoring the local Distracted Driving Initiative, they asked me if I wanted to get involved with the steering committee. Since then, I’ve remained involved with the committee and secured funding through the Allstate Foundation each year. 

You support our work in a lot of ways – as a Potter Society member, corporate supporter, and even as a Summer Smash bartender. Is there a project that has been most rewarding? 

I like the Distracted Driving committee's effort to raise awareness and change behaviors with high schoolers. Getting schools to require distracted driving education before they can get a parking pass is great. I hope this can eventually become universal. 

What causes are you most passionate about?

Recently, the causes I’m focused on are domestic violence (physical and financial), distracted driving, and veterans. Before I bought the insurance business, I volunteered regularly at the art gallery at Otto’s House, a part of the Veteran’s Outreach Center. I’m not a veteran, but I appreciate everything they’ve done. I’m really looking forward to getting more involved when I retire. 

Do you have any thoughts or advice for other people who volunteer or support our work?  

Rochester has a lot of challenges. The best thing to get engaged in is a cause you have a real passion for. If you’ve got a passion for it, it won’t feel like a burden, it will actually fuel you. Rather than spread yourself thin across a lot of causes, I’d say find a few and stick with them until you make a difference.

How do you take your coffee? 

I’ll drink just about any kind of coffee (or beer). I’m not high maintenance when it comes to that.

Spotlight: John Myers

Spotlight: John Myers

Can you tell us a little bit about Myers Creative Imaging?

We’re a full service imaging company, doing both stills and motion. Having been around for close to 30 years now, we can help people who come to us with an idea develop it into a fully fleshed creative concept.

How did you get involved in volunteering with Causewave?

I think my first project was the Austin Putters Golf Tournament sometime in the late 1990s. Back then, many agencies would bring me in directly so I didn’t necessarily know the staff at The Ad Council or the details of what they were working on. I then helped with creative for events many years, including the Mad Magazine concept in 2003, Golf to the Xtreme in 2004, and this year’s inaugural Summer Smash.

You’ve partnered with us on a long list of projects. It there one that’s been most rewarding?

The videos I’ve been working on for the Join the Organ Donor Registry initiative the last few months have been really impactful. It’s been great to have the opportunity to share stories of local people whose lives have been saved by receiving an organ transplant. And the team at Finger Lakes Donor Recovery are so passionate about expanding the registry to save more lives– they’ve been wonderful to work with.

We notice you’ve got a special knack for making people feel comfortable in front of a camera. How do you do it?

It’s always been important to me that the studio is a welcoming place that people actually look forward to coming to. We try to keep that consistent in everything we do, from having an inviting space, to how we make everyone who comes to the studio feel at home. Even people who’ve been in front of the camera many times can get stiff and need help letting their authentic self come through.

How do you take your coffee?  

I like to say I’m naturally caffeinated so I don’t drink coffee to keep me going during the day. That said, I’m Italian and enjoy a nice espresso with dinner. When I do drink coffee, I like a quality brew. I even bought a Royal Dutch Coffee maker on a trip to Belgium once. It’s amazing – look it up on YouTube.

Do you have any advice for other people who volunteer with us?

I’ve been tremendously fortunate in this life. As I get further into my career, what’s important to me is giving back to the community that has been so generous to me. As creatives we have a special opportunity to make a difference in our community because we have the ability to move people. We have to use our talents to give back.

Spotlight: Paul Infantino

Spotlight: Paul Infantino

This spring, Paul Infantino began volunteering with us.
 
He brought 20 years of experience assisting over 15 local and national nonprofit organizations, and offered to volunteer a couple hours each day to help with administrative projects. Paul also has years of experience with Salesforce, the CRM tool we use. 
 
In the past few months, Paul has been a huge help on internal projects that are making us more efficient and effective. He has also volunteered at several of our events, including our Annual Celebration and Nonprofit Workshop Series.

Paul’s deep commitment to improving our community is inspiring. We’re lucky to work with him and incredibly thankful for all of his support!