Having served as a board member for 10 years, Lynn Davis recently became Board Chair. Read her reflection of the evolution she’s witnessed within the organization throughout her tenure.
How were you first introduced to Guardian Angel?
A friend and former coworker of mine was on the Guardian Angel board. We were out to lunch one day and I mentioned to her that I was rolling off of another board, due to term limits. I was interested in getting engaged with something new, but hadn’t found anything yet. At that time the Childcare Center had just opened a few months prior, and told me about the huge Capital Campaign and really encouraged me to check it out. So I took a tour and fell in love immediately. I applied and joined the board right away.
What was your first impression of the organization?
I had a small child at the time, but prior to my first visit to Guardian Angel (at the Childcare Center), those types of child-focused programs weren’t really on my radar. But when I walked through the childcare facility and saw the engagement of the staff and how passionate they were about what they were doing. There was just an energy there – and I feel like it’s still there today – that comes from the people that work there. Just an atmosphere of joy and happiness that makes you feel like the kids there are well taken care of. I was just blown away – it pulled me in pretty closely right away.
What about the Guardian Angel’s work appealed to you?
Much of the work I had been involved with before was around senior care – that, in particular, was something very near and dear to my heart, and it still is. But when I came to Guardian Angel I was just so amazed at the variety of services. A lot of organizations I’ve been involved with in the past focus on one specific target area, whereas with Guardian Angel there was the Childcare Center, social services, all these different things going on. I felt like there was just so much opportunity to find something that you really enjoy.
Guardian Angel has such a storied history. Why do you think it has stood the test of time?
One of the things Guardian Angel does really well is make people feel confident. As an organization, there’s the concept that we’re not looking for repeat customers. Instead, we’re looking for ways to help people solve problems, and doing so in a way that helps them continue being meaningful contributors of society. When I speak at fundraising events, I let people know that the financial support they’re contributing to this organization is being used wisely. That money is being put into programs, and we’re putting all our energy into things that are helping people be successful, beyond a patchwork solution that is going to cause people to be back in two weeks.
Also, clients are treated differently in that environment. Instead of a system where people are shuffling in and out to just get what they need and move on, they’re getting a level of care and attention that they wouldn’t get otherwise. Here, there’s an intention to help them get through that minute, but also to have that not happen again. I think that’s very meaningful for both ends – the supporters of the cause and the receivers of the services. I think that’s what has really driven community support and is one of the reasons it’s been successful for so long.
Is there a specific moment that comes to mind where you directly felt that impact Guardian Angel makes?
There’s a common thread I see in all the stories from clients. For a lot of people, taking that first step through Guardian Angel’s door should’ve happened a lot sooner, but they didn’t have the courage. I would assume that it takes a lot to walk through that door. So without that level of culture within our organization, without the outreach, and accessibility, and I don’t know that those individuals would have a much harder time reaching that success.
How has serving at a board level enrich your own life, both professionally and even personally?
For me, it’s Guardian Angel’s cause and its culture. When I came to the board at Guardian Angel, it was an opportunity to really just engage all aspects of the process, meaning feeling fully committed to the cause. When you’re getting involved in a nonprofit organization, you need to be passionate about what you’re doing. I was probably 33 when I first joined the board and you gain experience that you may not get in your work setting by leading meetings, leading committees, taking on other responsibilities. It’s just a great compliment to any young professional, that’s looking to advance their skillset, outside of work.
You meet a lot of really great people, whether it’s people on the board or the staff that work at the agency. There are people on the board that I’ve known now for 10 years and I could call them for anything, whether it’s personal, professional, board-related, agency-related – whatever it is, I know that they would support me in whatever way I needed them to.
What called you to step into the role of Board Chair?
For me, taking on this role has a lot to do with the staff at this agency. Knowing that we have a really, really solid group of extremely talented people makes a huge difference. I kind of see my role as keeping this board excited to engage, energized about what they’re doing, and motivated by the future of the organization, and it’s much easier to do when you have super strong talent that just delivers – and and that’s what we have.
Looking at what’s been accomplished within the agency in the past 10 years – with two Capital Campaigns, the development of the childcare center, Hosea House becoming the social services facility, then moving to Cherokee, and now being on Jefferson. You just look at all those things and realize it’s big stuff. Guardian Angel is not an agency just doing the day-to-day to maintain the status quo. It’s an agency that’s looking to improve services, to provide better facilities for those services, and to really just push ahead.
Anything you’re looking forward to on behalf of the organization in the next year?
Now that we’re in a first class facility for social services, and still have a first class facility for childcare, the next step is identifying what we’re trying to do next. Where do we go from here? We’ve got the facilities, we’ve got the team, we’ve got the capabilities. What does it look like five years from now? Those are the questions we’re asking to make sure we’re anticipating the community’s needs and serving them efficiently.