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Innovation, Collaboration and Learning
When I began my term as an Aspiranet Encore Fellow in September 2011, I knew nothing about working in a Child & Family Services agency. My previous work experience had been focused on creating and marketing technology tools that help Wall Street professionals do their jobs. The goal was to provide them with the right information at the right time to make the right decision.
What I learned quickly was that at Aspiranet I had been placed in the midst of three of the largest sectors of the US economy – Human Services, Healthcare and Government – at a moment in time when technology was the focal point for achieving transformation. To be given the opportunity to put the skills and experience I had acquired in the private sector to a more meaningful use was exciting and gratifying.
Innovation and Collaboration
In my role at Aspiranet, I have done strategic planning and business development for one of the agency’s for-profit subsidiaries, an IT start-up called AltruIT, with the goal of growing revenue. AltruIT provides Human Services organizations with innovative technology tools that improve operational efficiency so they can focus on their core mission of helping kids and families. As an example, they just completed a project in Pennsylvania to equip social workers with a mobile case management tool so that they can spend more time with clients in the field and less time doing paperwork in the office.
The work environment at Aspiranet is rigorous, challenging and demonstrably respectful. My colleagues in the agency are smart, entrepreneurial, action-oriented and dedicated agents of care. Over the course of the year, as a newcomer, I have learned to listen, and the results have been a revelation to me. I also have learned that collaboration is not a buzz-word in the nonprofit world; it’s a necessary way of doing business that develops relationships, builds community and generates optimal solutions.
Learning What’s Important
The short version of my experience as an Encore Fellow is that I’ve come to realize that learning is fundamentally important to me. I’ve learned masses as a fellow, and all of it will be invaluable in preparing me for the next chapter in my life. In the immediate future, I will remain at Aspiranet in a post-fellowship role, implementing the business development plan for AltruIT and supporting the agency’s mission. Beyond that, I hope to find a role in a nonprofit or social enterprise that taps into my passion for making things. Whether it’s creating artworks or building a business, I’ve learned that pursuing what interests me is what motivates me most and makes me happy.
Generosity and Spirit
Finally, I have enjoyed being a member of a fellow cohort. The Aspiranet program was well crafted at the outset by bringing together diverse, complementary talents and personalities, and the fellows in my cohort have been supportive, genuinely interested in their work and especially generous with their time and ideas. There is no doubt in my mind that the growing network of Encore Fellows across the country constitutes a force for good for all involved.