Let me tell you a story.
On November 11, 1982, I was born in Guatemala, a small country in Central America.
(Don’t worry, I’ll skip some details to keep things moving…)
At some point in my schooling, I discovered I would rather write a 20-page paper than take a multiple-choice test.
In college, I enrolled as a business major because I thought a degree like that would help me land a job someday. Then I took a charts-laden macroeconomics class during my first semester and promptly switched my major.
On a plane to Cambodia in 2006, where I was headed to volunteer as a humanitarian photojournalist, I read a popular book that connected the field of economics with vulnerable human lives – one facet of the multifaceted field of community development.
Two years later, I left my job working with Cuban refugees to study community development in grad school. During that time, I was given a grant to return to Guatemala for my fieldwork, rekindling my love for the country of my birth and the surrounding region.
With a graduate degree in hand and an American economy in shambles, I had no choice but to get creative with my work – husking corn at a farmers market in Delaware, providing shockingly unskilled labor for a woodworking friend in Lancaster County, organizing cultural activities for groups of Asian exchange students in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC – doing whatever I could, whatever it paid.
And with my spare time, I wrote. I wrote for magazines about human rights in Guatemala and disaster recovery in Costa Rica. About mustard seeds in Nicaragua and tomatoes in Florida. About entrepreneurship in Phoenix and filmmaking in Philly. And I wrote oodles of book reviews and blog posts, a lot of them having to do with some combination of justice, community development, Latin America, and my Christian faith.
In 2014, after working for several years in communications and media relations with a massive faith-based organization doing humanitarian and development work, as well as a stint with a small creative agency, I started my own company, working with nonprofit and small business clients to help them connect with their audiences using words.
In early 2016, I added as one of my clients a community development organization called 1MISSION, which gives people in poverty the opportunity to earn a house by serving their community. Right away, I loved the fact that they served families in Mexico and Central America and that their emphasis was on empowering and celebrating local heroes who would build their own communities. I loved that this organization stood on principle, eager to learn and grow, but always connected to that singular mission. Over time, I came to appreciate the members of the team – not merely as clients to whom I was contractually obligated – but as friends with whom I shared a common calling.
Starting today, I’m joining the 1MISSION team fulltime as Chief Storyteller at their office in downtown Phoenix. (And yes, to all my former English teachers and journalism professors, I do apologize for burying the lede.) The bulk of my work will be in the realm of words, building on what we’ve already been working on together over the past two years. But I’ll also work with the partnerships and operations teams through strategic initiatives that will undoubtedly be fun but for the moment must remain top secret (tiny hint: baseball might be involved).
In my work with Hoiland Media, I found a niche by providing a needed service for smart, kind people doing innovative work, freeing them up to create software, make investments, run after-school programs, or, I don’t know, play football. I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve each of them, for the ways they have taken me under their wing, for caring about me as a person. I hope you all know how much you mean to me.
Now, I’m excited and grateful to be joining 1MISSION at this stage of the organization’s growth, at this point in my career, in a position that brings together some pretty far-flung and quirky parts of who I am, which is what I’ve attempted to convey in telling this story. Most of all, though, I’m humbled to be joining a remarkable team that works with imagination, persistence, and joy each and every day on behalf of families in poverty.
If you’d like to hear more about 1MISSION and/or find out ahead of time how I intend to cajole you in the future, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.