ALUMNI OF THE WEEK: EMILY MARTIN

 

Emily Martin is a MPF Alumna who served in Class VIII at St. Stephen’s Afterschool Program in the Villa Victoria neighborhood of Boston. She is currently working as the General Manager and CEO of KCOS, the PBS station in El Paso, Texas.

1. Why did you choose to serve with MPF?

I had considered Peace Corps and was looking into AmeriCorps as well when I came across the MPF opportunity online. Boston was on my list of top cities to live and I loved the fact that I could also take classes at Northeastern University for free while I served. I had lived and worked in Mexico along the US border so my Spanish was pretty good and I loved working with young people- so working at St. Stephen’s Afterschool program was an excellent fit and opportunity.

2. Describe your job and how you’ve been able to transfer skills from your year of service to your role today. 

Today I am the General Manager and CEO of KCOS, the PBS station in El Paso, Texas. It’s been a decade since I served as a Fellow, but my experiences in my year of service definitely shaped me and prepared me for my current role. Most importantly, my nonprofit management certificate from Northeastern that I earned during my MPF year opened doors for me for roles and United Way of El Paso, in nonprofits consulting, even in the corporate world (where I spent 5 years prior to this role) and now as a CEO of a small public television station. Understanding how to read financial statements, work with my board of directors, manage HR situations, and especially how to write grants and a variety of fundraising appeals have proved invaluable. The most profound impact of my MPF experience was the experience of working with Liz Steinhauser at St. Stephen’s. I learned so much from Liz this answer won’t do her justice- but I’ll try. Her leadership style was direct yet caring. She was specific and focused on outcomes, yet took time to listen and ask about our personal lives. Our weekly meeting focused on three questions: 1) How are you feeling/doing? 2) What did you accomplish this past week and what do you have planned for this coming week? 3) What can I do to help you achieve your goals for this coming week? It was a simple format, and she also asked us to send our answers via email in advance of the meeting so we were both prepared. It helped us focus our conversation and be productive, and also build our relationship. Liz mentored me in so many ways and I learned a ton about leadership from watching how she handles situations and a diverse mix of students, volunteers and donors. Above all Liz practiced compassion. I’m still striving to be half the woman and leader she is and I’m better for my time working with Liz.

3. What was your favorite memory in the Fellowship and why was it so meaningful to you?

 Wow. That’s a hard one. I guess just thinking about the Fellowship part- our time with each other as Fellows- I still remember all our trips across Massachusetts. I’m copping out- I can’t decide on just one- Nantucket, snowshoeing in NH, and our whole day on be high ropes course were all very memorable. Since we lived on such a tight budget with our MPF stipends these off site meetings were special treats- like mini vacations- while we were learning, reflecting, and building friendships.
4. What was the most rewarding part of your service?
Working with the kids at St. Stephen’s- seeing them grow and develop academically throughout the year. But also the relationships I built with so many volunteers and staff who I never would have met otherwise. I really learned to be more accepting, open-minded and how to look for and find the best in others even when at first glance we didn’t seem to have much in common.
 5. Since Fellows will be graduating soon, what are 3 tips you have for current Fellows to prepare them for post-MPF?
1) Continue to be bold. Don’t underestimate yourself. The experience you’ve received in terms of training and leadership at your site are typically beyond your peers (especially if you did MPF shortly after undergrad). So apply for big positions and tell your story of your impact and accomplishments.
2) Leverage the network and stay connected. It will benefit you and you’ll be able to help others in the future too.
3) Be open to new possibilities. Leaving MPF, I thought I’d work in nonprofit my entire life- and my first several years after I did. Then I had the opportunity to do Latino Marketing for a Fortune 100 financial firm. I took that leap and did it for 5 years and I grew tremendously. And it helped me in many ways for my current leadership role. Every step prepares you for the next one. But it rarely every follows a straight line. And that’s perfectly fine.

 

 

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