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Find Your Passion, Join a Nonprofit Board

You know in a movie when the viewer knows that fate is playing a part to bring the main character to that place they’re meant to be, but the main character just thinks it’s by chance? That’s basically how I ended up on the board of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Toledo (DSAGT).

I’ve always felt drawn to the Down Syndrome community, ever since I was young. As I’ve gotten older I’ve begun following the stories of families who have children with Down Syndrome on social media. I also read a book last summer, The Lucky Few, which tells a story of adopting two children with Down Syndrome. I was so inspired by the story but had no idea I would be given the opportunity to join that community a few months later.

A few days before the EPIC Toledo Board Fair, I saw a LinkedIn post from one of our Gilmore Jasion Mahler partners who shared that DSAGT was looking for board members. I read the article thinking how perfect a fit that would be for me, but I assumed I wasn’t far enough along in my career yet to join a board. I also didn’t think I had the right qualifications to join a board, nor did I think a board would want someone my age (WRONG! They value a diverse board, including young board members).

A few days later I went to the board fair, primarily in support of a co-worker who was looking to join a board. I was surprised to see the DSAGT booth since they weren’t on the list, however, I went over and met the Executive Director. We immediately connected over the passion we shared. I told her a little about myself and she gave me some information about the organization. I went home, did some research, and attended their next board meeting. I was voted on to the board at that first meeting!

Joining DSAGT has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was scared and doubtful of my abilities, but in a short amount of time, I discovered that this was a community where judgement did not exist. The little bit of accounting and non-profit knowledge I could contribute to the board was helpful, but more importantly, my passion for the cause was exactly what was required to be a great board member. I was also worried about the time commitment but again, I found out that the time spent with DSAGT was well worth it. When work and life gets to be too stressful, just an hour with the Down Syndrome community brings me back to life and fills up my soul again.

Serving as a board member hasn’t just helped me personally, but it’s also helped me professionally. I’m learning about fundraising, board governance, and programming. I’m also learning how to budget, and strategize on ways to increase revenue. All of these skills help me better serve my nonprofit clients through understanding the challenges and goals they’re facing every day.

I highly recommend serving on a board for a local nonprofit. It’s a great way to learn, meet new people, and make a difference in the community. And, you might just find that the board and its members have a bigger effect on you, than you do on them. You’ll know when you’ve picked the right one. If you’re interested in joining a board, I suggest attending the EPIC Toledo Non-Profit Board Fair (Now named the Non-Profit Palooza). You can check out LinkedIn, or simply talk to leadership at your business. They have great connections and may know a board that would be a great fit for you!

Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Associate Krista Huff contributed this blog. Krista is a senior associate with over three years of public accounting experience with a specialization in the nonprofit industry. In addition to her work on the board for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Toledo, Krista is involved in many community service projects through GJM.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting services and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory and healthcare management. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.