After six years at The Poynter Institute, I’m leaving to take a job as managing director of Images & Voices of Hope (IVOH) — a nonprofit dedicated to highlighting how the media can be a force for good.
The job presents a lot of exciting opportunities, and it will help me reach some of my longer-term goals. As managing director, I’ll be responsible for growing IVOH’s digital audience and social media presence. I’ll also get experience in three key areas: partnership-building, event planning and fundraising. I’ll work closely with IVOH founder Judy Rodgers and the organization’s board of directors, which is made up of a talented group of media thinkers, including Roberta Baskin, Jon Funabiki, Connie Schultz and Michael Skoler.
The position enables me to continue doing the editorial work I love, while developing business skills that are necessary to run an organization. I’ve often thought about running my own media-related organization, or starting an editing/publishing company, so this job moves me closer to those aspirations. IVOH has been in need of a full-time managing director who can grow it and take it to the next level, and I’m eager to be that person.
While overseeing IVOH’s website, I’ll have creative freedom to write and publish stories that show how the media can connect communities during times of tragedy, restore hope in what’s been lost, and have a positive impact on society. Given the growth of sites like Upworthy, along with studies that say people tend to share “less mean” news, I think there’s a real opportunity for IVOH to play a role in this space. I also think there’s value in IVOH and other organizations that focus on what’s working in the media, rather than dwelling on what’s broken.
On a deeper level, IVOH’s mission really resonates with me. I’m drawn to the idea of showing how the media can have a positive impact on society. Recently, IVOH began exploring “restorative narratives.” It’s a genre of storytelling that shows how stories, film, art and even advertising “expresses empowerment, possibilities and revitalization.” As I’ve given more thought to the restorative narrative genre in recent weeks, I’ve realized that the memoir I’m writing — about losing my mom at age 11 and struggling in the aftermath — is very much a restorative narrative.
My new position will give me a little more free time than I’ve had — to finish my memoir, start taking yoga classes, run, and spend more time doing other things I enjoy outside of work. I equate this new job with happiness, good health and professional growth.
I’ll be working from home, which will be an adjustment. Troy and I aren’t in a position to move right now, though, so the ability to work remotely was appealing. My fiance Troy has graciously agreed to let me turn his man-cave into a home office (!) so I’ll have a designated work space, a room of my own. The room, which is above our garage, has a full bathroom attached to it. It’s both spacious and cozy, and it lets in a lot of natural light.
I’ll be traveling a decent amount in this new position, which I think will help combat the loneliness I may initially feel when working from home. My first trip will be to Santa Cruz, Calif., where I’ll be attending a retreat put on by the Whitman Institute, one of the organizations that has long supported IVOH.
Deciding my next steps wasn’t easy: I had a choice between staying on and becoming editor of Poynter.org, or leaving to try something new. I’m grateful for mentors who listened to me and gave me thoughtful advice when I needed it most. I’m also fortunate to have a fiance who has supported me throughout this whole process.
As I grappled with my decision, I reflected on how many amazing opportunities I’ve been given at Poynter: I started my career at the institute and have moved up the ladder at Poynter.org. I’m currently managing editor of the website and have acted as interim editor for the past six months, since my former boss left. I’ve taught social media sessions in Poynter seminars, developed my writing and editing skills, and learned what it takes to be a manager/leader. And I’ve been lucky to work alongside gifted colleagues who care deeply about journalism.
I initially thought I’d stay at Poynter because it seemed easier than having to deal with the fear of disappointing my colleagues. But I had to listen to what I wanted and recognize my tendency to hold onto what’s familiar.
As my dad told me earlier this week, sometimes we have to let go in order to grow. “Being brave is not being without fear,” he said. “It is simply being able to manage your fears and not let them manage you.” To excel professionally and personally, we have to be brave enough to take risks that will enable us to take on new challenges, meet new people, and find fulfillment.
More and more, I’ve realized I’m ready for a new kind of fulfillment.
I’ll stay at Poynter through the second week of October, and then I’ll take a break to do some final preparations for a very special day — my wedding! Troy and I are getting married on Oct. 19 and then taking a two-week honeymoon in mid-November. After that, I’ll be starting my new job. I’ll also become an adjunct faculty member at Poynter, which means I’ll teach at the institute a couple of times a year and occasionally write for Poynter.org.
I’m excited for my next steps, as a bride-to-be and a journalist. It’s a new beginning.