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Young Professionals Shine at Gilda’s Club

This article originally appeared in our January 2021 Gilda Gram.

Gilda’s Club is fortunate to have an Associate Board (AB) comprised of young professionals supporting our mission. We recently sat down with Gilda’s Club President and CEO Harriet Schiftan, Director of Development and Associate Board Liaison Hayley Levy, and Associate Board Chair Anne Fletcher to learn more.

What is Gilda’s Club’s AB? Harriet: Our AB is a young professionals group that supports Gilda’s Club in the same ways our general Board does. Its members are among our most steadfast volunteers, donors, ambassadors, and community leaders. The group sets its own goals and has complete ownership of its successes.

What is the “valued added” of an AB? Harriet: Having a group of young professionals, many of whom have a cancer connection or a personal connection to Gilda’s Club, is energizing and inspiring to our entire organization. We are so proud and grateful to have this outstanding group dedicated to fueling our mission.

What do you consider the AB’s greatest areas of growth, development and achievement? Hayley: During my four years as AB staff liaison, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the group grow from six to 25 members – and raise more than $15,000 to support Gilda’s mission. For many of our AB members, this is their first non-profit leadership opportunity. A handful were referred by general Board members and/or work for Gilda’s Club sponsors and community partners. Others found the group through friends or through Gilda’s involvement with the Nashville Chamber and YP Nashville. AB Chair Anne Fletcher’s thoughtful leadership – with strong support from committee chairs Camille Cohen, Brian Baker, Anna Stern, and Alicia Hudson – is to credit for much of the group’s success to date.

How did you get involved with Gilda’s Club? Anne: My dear friend Clara Belden introduced me to Gilda’s Club in 2017. Shortly thereafter, the AB Chair position came available and Clara approached me about it. Despite having never before served on a non-profit board, I jumped at the chance to support Gilda’s mission.

What have been some of your goals for the group? Anne: In my first year as AB Chair (2019), the overarching goal was to build a young professionals organization that was sustainable and successful in its mission to support Gilda’s Club. Specifically, Hayley, my committee chairs and I focused on three areas: membership, volunteering, and fundraising. Because the AB was (and is) relatively young, we knew – first and foremost – we needed to grow our membership… to identify and recruit young professionals who were eager to get involved and have an impact. We were incredibly successful in this – thankfully, wonderfully. We also reconsidered the way the AB works with the general Board and put in place more structure, which has allowed us to build something that will continue long after my term has ended.

Can you elaborate on the structure and intention behind the AB? Hayley: As a young professional myself – someone who’s involved with several non-profits and participates in young professional programs throughout Nashville – I have to say, Gilda’s AB is unique. It is set up with direct links to our organization’s Board of Directors, providing AB members access to seasoned, respected business leaders, while simultaneously assuring both groups are working toward the same goals. Our AB chair serves as a non-voting member of and liaison to our Board of Directors, attending regularly scheduled meetings. Moreover, the Associate Board has a committee structure that mirrors the Board of Directors’ structure and, at its meetings, has opportunities to meet and hear from Gilda’s Club staff, volunteers, and members. It really is an organization with a commitment to professional development.

What are you most proud of concerning the AB? Anne: I’m most proud of the engagement of our members. There are a lot of things competing for everyone’s time, especially now. This can make meaningful engagement difficult, and yet, our AB members show up whenever and however they can.

What is the AB’s “secret sauce”? Anne: A connected membership base. While there are many reasons to join an associate board or young professionals group (networking, camaraderie, etc.), our AB members share a special connection to Gilda’s and/or the mission, which has brought them to us and keeps them motivated to serve, even during a pandemic. I am excited for what this group will accomplish in the coming years – and proud to have been a part of building an organization with staying power.

To get involved, email AssociateBoard@GildasClubMiddleTN.org.