On Thursday, April 1, Park City Community Foundation will say goodbye to our beloved Executive Director, Katie Wright. Throughout her 13 years with the Community Foundation, Wright has made a name for herself as a strong leader, an accomplished go-getter, a thoughtful friend, and a progressive ally. As Executive Director, she has overseen the success of Live PC Give PC, Women’s Giving Fund and so many other initiatives that have pushed Park City to be a better community.
Before her departure, Wright reflected on her career, imparting a few words of wisdom and learnings along the way. Here are a few key takeaways from her time with Park City Community Foundation, in her own words:
When Trisha Worthington transitioned from the Executive Director position, she told both me and the board that the organization has to be really willing to try new ideas. Live PC Give PC is a great example of that. There have been others along the way. As organizations grow, they become more risk-averse, but I agree, it’s important that we continue to try new things, especially when you get into the nitty-gritty of trying to really solve challenges that are pervasive across our country and communities.
We’re not going to get anything resolved if we are afraid of failing here and there along the way. We are going to make mistakes – we as the Community Foundation, we the community, all of us. But that certainly should not dissuade us from continuing to push those big boulders uphill.
Park City Community Foundation made a really positive shift when we started discussing the full impact of our work, looking at the full picture, seeing all the resources needed to solve a problem. For example, if we truly are going to, as Brian Shirkin says, clear the waitlist for any child from affordability or availability standpoint for early childhood education, so every child has access to high-quality care at a rate that’s accessible to them, what does that actually take.
The one thing that I’m kind of proud of is changing the idea that nonprofits should be starved of resources. There is paper after paper, research after research, that shows that mindset that actually prevents impact from being achieved, and yet there is this pervasive conversation about overhead, are nonprofits efficient enough, etc. From the beginning, we’ve really tried to counteract this idea and say people deserve to be paid well for hard jobs that they are professionals in. Secondly, donors really should consider and give unrestricted gifts and give the power to the nonprofit to do what’s best and I like that we’ve always been a voice to that.
Taking a problem and turning it around takes a lot of guts – envisioning the final outcome you want, then working backward from there takes courage because the numbers are always huge and terrifying. But when you put the numbers in context by visualizing how money spent and invested in this community and beyond will have a ripple effect for individuals and the community over a lifetime, it’s such a clear ROI to invest in solving big problems.
As an organization, we are diving head-on into diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is an incredibly vulnerable position to be in when we all individually, or as an organization, are so incomplete in our knowledge and our place of privilege. As we’re learning, we’re also making as many mistakes as we’re righting. So we have to be in a space where we’re trying, we’re learning, and we’re improving, and that’s a hard place to be in, especially as an organization that has always liked to achieve big goals and has in our history.
We hit big numbers with Live PC Give PC, we got 1,000 women to build a million-dollar endowment over the course of a year. All these accomplishments feel really great, and knowing that this vulnerability isn’t going to be something that we can ever put on a plaque on a wall makes it harder to conceptualize, but I’m glad we’re doing it.
Something is happening [across the community, across the country, and around the world] where people are digging into uncomfortable conversations, dismantling the way things are done, and welcoming a new way of doing things for the better of the community.
We as a community need to not be so concerned about our place that we don’t take any risk or try new things. I think we’ll quickly become stale and that will take some of the magic of Park City and ruin it a little bit. Part of the magic is that constant trying things and experimentation. It’s hard to do this work and I hope we stick with it because it is not easy to stay in that space.
Posted in: Uncategorized