NPO 002: Finding volunteers, navigating transitions & board structure (Anna Mayer: Taller de José)

Today's guest: Anna Mayer
Anna is the Executive Director of Taller de José. Anna began serving at Taller de José as an Amate Volunteer in August 2011, and joined the staff in June 2012, first as a Compañera and later as the Program Director. Originally from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, she attended the University of Notre Dame and graduated with a degree in Psychology and Sociology. Since beginning her work at Taller de José, she has also completed a Masters in Nonprofit Management from DePaul University School of Public Service.

Nonprofit Spotlight: Taller de José
Taller de José is a ministry of accompaniment, connecting people to services and services to people. It is an agency that offers companionship and personal attention to people who have difficulty finding their way in a complex social system. Rather than duplicate existing services, Taller de José seeks to collaborate with other agencies to make social services more accessible to a population in need. Each staff member, compañera/o, is trained to listen to clients, to assess the services they need, and then accompany them in the process of finding those resources. Taller de José is based in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, IL.

Story of Good:
Anna shared a beautiful story of a woman who she initially met when she worked as a Compañera for Taller de José. When they first met, the woman was seeking permanent citizenship. Since gaining that, she has gone on to get involved in community initiatives (ie: a community garden) and now serves on the Community Advisory Board for Taller de José.

Lessons Learned:
Anna shared how her organization is able to stretch their budget by incorporating long-term volunteers in substantial roles. She explains the partnerships they've formed to seek these volunteers and encourages us to think creatively about who could fit that profile.
     When Anna came into this role as executive director, it coincided with her predecessor and another influential organizational leader leaving the organization. Anna describes some of the challenges associated with that and how she helped navigate their organization through that. Here's the book she mentioned! In the process, she touches on the importance of professional development and the formal and informal ways that can be offered to staff members. Earlier in her time there, Anna had been encouraged to pursue her Master's in Nonprofit Management at DePaul University in their School of Public Service, which unintentionally made her ready to take on this leadership role.
     The final lesson discussed was the importance of including the voices of board members, staff members and community members in the ongoing development of the organization. Anna shares in practical terms how Taller de José does that and some new initiatives that they've put in place.

Next Interview: Jamelyn Lederhouse, the Chicago Program Manager for Global Glimpse