I work for myself now!
Yes, folks, it’s true. After five years at Counter Tools—and two as its Executive Director—I decided that the job wasn’t for me anymore and that it was time to move on.
The backstory is that about a year in to being ED, I realized that I didn’t like it much. Sure, there were things about it that I loved, but big parts of the job did not jive with my personality and priorities. I took another year to confirm that it wasn’t just a slump, since leading a nonprofit had been a dream of mine for a long time and I worked really hard to get there. But sure enough, it wasn’t just a slump.
While stepping down as ED was a personal decision that I came to for many reasons, I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on one reason in particular: burn out.
When I shared some thoughts on burnout during my exit interview with a handful of board members, the response was mostly comments like “That’s just how it is,” and “I don’t know an Executive Director who isn’t burnt out.”
And while I get that my story isn’t “special,” isn’t that all the more reason to do something about it? I said that I recognized that the ED job is a hard one that requires sacrifice, but we have to do better as a sector. And at the very least, Counter Tools can do better.
One of the best nonprofit bloggers out there, Vu Le of Nonprofit AF, wrote about Why More and More Executive Directors of Color are Leaving Their Positions and What We Need to Do About It back in June. This was on the heels of his own resignation. He wrote:
“The ED job is impossible for one person to handle without burning out: We expect nonprofit staff, and EDs in particular, to not only wear “multiple hats” and do myriad disparate things, but to do them well. The ED job is a job for at least two people—an internal leader, and an external one, for example—and we need to explore new models. My organization hired a Managing Director—the brilliant Ananda Valenzuela—who essentially played the role of an internal ED while I focused on fundraising and external communications, and this structure of ED/MD has in many ways been one of the biggest drivers of [our] growth and success these past few years, and a major reason I lasted this long. Our sector can’t and shouldn’t any longer expect the ED to be a magical unicorn who can do everything effectively.”
Amen. (And I am definitely not done on this subject, but will stop here for this post.)
After talking to some people who had been there before and know a lot more than I do, I decided to give two months’ notice and can vouch that it was the right amount of time to tie up loose ends, distribute tasks, and properly say goodbye to the team and partners.
Speaking of goodbyes, I’m going to share the goodbye/pep talk I gave the team on my last day in a future post.
Finally, you may have noticed that my blog, once housed at ninabaltierra.wordpress.com now lives here at ninabaltierra.com/blog. And that if you poke around the rest of this website, you’ll see that I am providing services to businesses looking to leverage their resources and focus on what matters. My firm is called Resourcerers. Yeah, it’s a little silly, but so am I! I’m all about taking the work seriously while not taking myself too seriously.
Remember how I said that there were parts of the ED job that I loved? Well, improving operational efficiencies was one of them. I’m so excited to be able to help other businesses do the same…without having to set strategy, fundraise, resolve HR conflicts, plan events, manage social media…