“Pause for a moment and reflect.”  

Oprah and Deepak

Challenges…  I love and hate challenges.  I like to be challenged so I can push myself to discover my potential but when a challenge becomes too difficult or insurmountable, I get frustrated, sometimes overwhelmed.  I get angry and sometimes take it out on people nearest and dearest to me because I cannot master the challenge. This is the time in which one needs to step back and assess.  Is the challenge viable, worthwhile, and meaningful? That short pause is necessary to consider the big picture - why is this challenge important?

Let me give you an example.  I decided to climb three 14’ers (mountain trails whose peak is above 14,000 feet) this summer in Colorado.  It is something I have been wanting to do but did not have a chance until now. So I took my beloved niece and nephew on the first 14’er - Mt. Bierstadt via Guanella Pass.  It would have been the perfect day, if it wasn’t for the hordes of 20-something year olds. The air was crisp, around 43 degrees at 6 am, and the blue sky with billowy clouds was impeccable.  We started on the trail, slowly and steadily, but about 2 hours into the path, I felt tremendous pressure on my chest. The altitude was affecting my breathing. I continued because well, I was determined to finish.  I walked uphill for another 45 minutes, trying to catch my breath. I only needed to climb a steep hill for about an hour more. Normally, I would have pushed onward because that is how I met challenges - forge forward.  But I paused and thought - why did I need to finish this trail today? Yes, it was not an existential challenge. But I realized that I needed to challenge myself physically so that I would have the courage to meet the challenges at work and home.  In my convoluted head, they were all interrelated. That pause gave me an opportunity to realize that I did not need to finish the trail because I did not need the ‘success’ to reassure me.  I was fully capable of meeting other challenges even if I did not succeed in climbing the peak. This failure did not reflect on my commitment to my other projects.  It was not interrelated. So I turned back. But with the full knowledge that I would return and I did, not because I had to succeed but I wanted to enjoy the view from above.  And it was a majestic view.

I paused to think about the Fall Roundtable.  The challenge was not in raising the funds, gathering the people, or figuring out the format of the event.  Those aspects were difficult but doable. I struggled with the meaning of the Roundtable. Initially, I wanted to brainstorm ideas on how to raise funds for nonprofit organizations.  I wanted to look at traditional methods (grant proposals, fundraisers, etc) and business models. But then I noticed the number of workshops and programs that were designed to meet this need.  It definitely was not new. And I absolutely hate rehashing what is out there. It would sincerely kill my soul, my sense of self. So I paused. I paused long enough to assess my vision for the Fall event.  It was not important to just have an event because I had committed Platform to hold a ‘workshop’ in Fall. That promise was meaningless if the event was pointless. I would have wasted money and everyone’s time; I would have wasted resources to a useless commitment.  It would be like forcing myself to climb a peak because I needed to, not because I wanted to enjoy the journey.

So I thought hard and long about the purpose of the Fall event - What do I want to get out of the event?  I still wanted to help nonprofit organizations grow funds for their projects. Without funding, one can’t really get anywhere.  But most people knew about and have tried the traditional methods. Yet it has not been enough. This is why I have changed directions and decided to focus primarily on the business models.  For the Fall Roundtable, we have decided to develop an instruction kit that would encourage individuals or small nonprofits to adopt a business model. We will be brainstorming ideas to formulate three models: 1) for-profit to support nonprofit; 2) nonprofit to adopt for-profit; and/or 3) partnership between for-profit and nonprofit.  We will meet for just one day on Friday, September 21 to hold some serious and intense discussions.

Since we have structured the Roundtable to be more of a “think-tank” rather than a “workshop,” we will be inviting just a select group of presenters and participants, about 12 people altogether.  It will a powerhouse of original social entrepreneurs, businesswomen, visionaries, and women in marketing. Let me provide you a list of the presenters:

Betsy Lay

Betsy Lay made her way to Denver from St. Louis in 2000 to attend the University of Denver. She has since spent much of her time working in education-based non-profits, including serving two terms as an AmeriCorps VISTA. In 2014, she co-founded the Lady Justice Brewing Company, a philanthropic brewery that donates all profits over cost to organizations empowering women and girls. In addition to being the head brewer at Lady Justice, Betsy works in academic programming at the Iliff School of Theology. 

Bao Vang

Bao Vang has more than two decades of leadership and management experience in business, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. She has been in her role at HAP/HND for over 10 years. During this time she has grown the organizational budget from roughly $3 million to currently over $13 million. Prior to her work at HAP/HND, she held management and leadership positions in Corporate American, Nonprofits and various levels of the government. She has served on the board of various national and local task forces, including appointments from the Governor to the Mayor’s offices.  She has been recognized by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as the Champion of Change.  Her business interests reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of the greater Hmong community. Ms. Vang holds a M.A. in Public Administration and Management and a B.A. in Business Administration/Accounting. She is a 1999 Bush Fellow, and was listed as 75 most influential people in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine. She has been awarded multiple awards and recognitions over the past decade. 

Xeres Villanueva

Xeres Villanueva graduated from Azusa Pacific University with degrees in English and Communication Studies. She has deep roots in community building and activism. She is involved in community building projects such as Tuesday Night Cafe and various Christian social justice groups such as Jesus 4 Revolutionaries. She has been in the worlds of freelancing, small business and non-profits. Her interests are media and pop culture, cultural activism, liberation movements, economic empowerment and food.

Jinah Kim

Jinah Kim is a Korean American born in Incheon, South Korea and raised in upstate New York. She graduated from Boston College with a major in International Studies, pursuing a career working with refugees and immigrants and advocating on their behalf. She was a case manager and taught English and employment education with Catholic Charities Community Services in New York City, and continued on to become a Job Developer at the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Albany. She then took her experience to start a social venture in the form of a farm-to-table Korean restaurant in Troy, New York. Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen opened in May 2016 and has since provided employment opportunities for immigrants while providing in-house educational services such as English classes and computer literacy programs. 

As always I have tried to include a diversity group of women - from different regions of the US, levels of experience, and backgrounds.  And this list does not include the participants who will be invited to attend the Roundtable. They are just as impressive.

It was not an easy challenge but it will definitely be worthwhile to everyone involved and to the communities we serve or hope to serve.  So it was good that I paused. The Fall Roundtable will now produce effective resources for visionary women and small nonprofit organizations.

Founder, Executive Director

August 02, 2018

Samantha Joo