I write to you on my final day as President of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida – a 22-year journey with you as traveling companions. It has been my honor to work with you, and for you, to fulfill our mission of Stimulating Philanthropy to Build a Better Community.
Over the last few weeks, I have been reflecting on the beginning of my 40-year career in the nonprofit sector.
I spent five years in the sector after graduating from Jacksonville University, and then moved to the corporate sector for the next five years.
While in sales, I earned several promotions and received an offer to relocate to Tampa for a senior level position. In the end, despite the financial benefits and the future earning potential, I decided that my heart was not in the work.
When I met with the regional president to submit my resignation, letting him know that I was taking a job as the executive director of PACE Center for Girls Jacksonville, he assumed that it was because I was a mother of a young child.
He said he understood my need to go back to the nonprofit sector to have more time with my son and less stress. He assured me that I would return to the corporate sector when Alex was 10 and didn’t need me any longer.
Bless his heart.
Alex will turn 40 this year, and I have worked in the nonprofit sector ever since.
The career change didn’t necessarily give me more time to be a Mom, and it certainly wasn’t less stressful than working in the private sector.
We, as staff, choose this sector knowing that there will never be an IPO, a government pension or a union to champion our needs.
My stock options are remembering the faces and stories of the people who allowed me into their lives for a time – nonprofit partners and donors. People who trusted me with their feelings and honored me by sharing their hopes and challenges. And knowing that, hopefully, their lives were made better in some small way through my work and my dedication to the mission of the organizations that I served and to this community that I truly love.
The faces that I will remember most are those of the seasoned and committed staff members and dedicated trustees who I have worked with throughout the years – people whom I trust, respect and dearly love. Their commitment to our mission, to our fundholders, to the communities we serve, and to each other is astounding. With this team, and Isaiah Oliver stepping in next week as the Foundation’s third president, the future is certainly bright.
While I will no longer live in Northeast Florida, a piece of my heart will always be here, with you.
Be well and happy in all things,
In her 22 years at The Community Foundation, Nina Waters worked closely with many next-generation leaders who have chosen a career in the nonprofit sector.
Pictured Above: (back row, left to right) Travis Williams, Hannah Oberholtzer, Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, Dan Foley, Dr. Kimberly Allen, Keli Coughlin; (front row, left to right): Travis Pinckney, Nina Waters, Sabeen Perwaiz