I’ve had the pleasure and honor of running my own consulting business over the last two years, assisting nonprofits of all shapes and sizes. Going forward, I’ll be focusing on one nonprofit: the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
I’ve accepted a full-time role as EFF’s Chief Program Officer, a newly-created executive level role that is intended to ensure that the programmatic teams at EFF, comprised of the legal team, activism team, technology projects team, international team, and press team, develop and achieve impactful strategies. The role helps me bring my passion for organizational development and management coaching into EFF, an organization I’ve loved for many years.
Previously, I led the activism team at EFF, which gave me a chance to spearhead communications and advocacy strategy as well as recruit and develop a team. Over the last two years, I’ve balanced my work leading the advocacy team at EFF with outside consulting projects that gave me an opportunity to go deep on organizational development. This came with some costs (like committing my vacation days to facilitating retreats and sacrificing my morning runs to morning conference calls with East Coast and European consulting clients), but also many rewards. I loved the advocacy work I was doing at EFF, and I also loved the organizational development work I was doing through Groundwork. I also noticed that my intention of Groundwork being a part-time project was hard to manage; I was tempted again and again to take on big consulting projects because I loved getting to work with progressive and tech advocacy groups I admired.
This year, I realized I needed to make some hard choices about which of my two passions I’d prioritize, as either EFF or Groundwork could happily balloon to fill up all my time. I spent many sleepless nights wondering how I could let go of either of them, when I found them both so meaningful.
The answer was a new opportunity that combines many elements of both my Groundwork role and my commitment to EFF’s mission. Over several months of discussion and consultations, EFF developed a new position to scale its leadership team to meet the challenges ahead. Adding the CPO role also frees up EFF’s Executive Director to focus on some of the pressing challenges facing the organization, including long term planning and deeper engagement with the media.
This is a bittersweet moment for me. The work I’ve done through Groundwork Consulting has been less public than my work at EFF, but deeply fulfilling. I’ve had clients across the country and enjoyed digging into the complex management challenges facing nonprofits of many different sizes. Through this work, I was exposed to an array of fascinating and complex management challenges, more than I would have ever experienced working within a single organization. I worked with incredible collaborators and I feel a deep and abiding connection to those individuals I coached through management and strategy challenges. I also had the privilege of only working with organizations I supported on a personal level.
To step into this new role at EFF, I realize I need to give up both of the positions that brought so much meaning to my life. The new role will come with its own host of challenges, and I need to be able to give it my full attention.
Over the next 30 days, I’ll be wrapping up the last of my outstanding commitments to Groundwork clients. I’ll be reaching out to those individuals who requested me for contracts in late 2018 and 2019 to let them know I’ll be unavailable. I’ll be transferring the leadership of the activism team for EFF to Elliot Harmon, a strategic and thoughtful individual previously working as the Associate Director of the activism team.
For now, my intention is to keep the Groundwork Consulting website up and functional as a place for me to blog about management challenges, and to continue to provide some coaching to existing clients. But I plan to indefinitely pause taking new clients. Once I’ve settled into my new role, I will reassess whether I’ve got the capacity to occasionally facilitate retreats, but I’m not taking any bookings now that aren’t already in my calendar.
I want to thank everyone who supported me in launching Groundwork, whether that was sending me clients or working with me on consulting projects or just reaching out to share support. I had always imagined that consulting was sort of lonely work, but instead I found it to be full of new connections and friendships.