The Power of ProInspire: Appreciating Community in Times of Crisis
By Megan Grimaldi, PNLC member
As we step out cautiously into the world again, in the midst of what seems like a never-ending cycle of crises, I hope that we maintain this renewed appreciation for and commitment to creating equitable communities that grew out of the pain of the last two years.
In August 2019, a week before my 40th birthday, I had the opportunity to connect with about 15 other nonprofit leaders in beautiful Aspen, Colorado, for the American Express Emerging Leaders Academy. With the guidance of two thoughtful and kind facilitators, we discussed, developed, and challenged our ideas about what it meant to be a leader, how to lead with equity in an inequitable world, and what we could bring back from the experience to build a better future. The organization that provided me with that opportunity – with that community – was ProInspire. I was one of many individuals who have benefitted from that experience over the last several years. That time away from my nonprofit – where I had developed my leadership skills with the help of ProInspire’s many programs for over nine years – is one that I will never forget.
Nor will I soon forget the next week. The day I returned to the office, my direct report and I were laid off. And then, three days later, I turned 40.
To say that this spurred a period of self-reflection is not an understatement. I also cannot overstate how much support I received from my ProInspire colleagues during that time. I honed my elevator speech, made countless new connections, and continued to serve in various ProInspire councils and working groups as I created my next step in life.
After months of searching and starting my own small business, I found a full-time job at a boutique consultancy, guiding nonprofit organizations as they develop programs, initiatives, and strategies with equity in mind. I started my new job in March 2020, just as the pandemic – and the lockdowns, virtual school, and collective frustration at the continued injustice of the world – hit.
Now we were all reflecting, isolated together. It was during this time – when I barely slept, when my husband and I literally ran up and down the stairs to switch between virtual school and work calls multiple times per day – that I prioritized continuing my relationship with ProInspire. Because being present with your community matters – particularly when that community calls and empowers us to build a more equitable future.
As we step out cautiously into the world again, in the midst of what seems like a never-ending cycle of crises, I hope that we maintain this renewed appreciation for and commitment to creating equitable communities that grew out of the pain of the last two years. I am heartened to see that ProInspire’s model and programs have been recognized as crucial to supporting individual, organizational, and systemic development.
Certainly, ProInspire has impacted me, the communities in which I serve, and the systems in which I lead. I hope that my story calls you to explore what their community can share with you.
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