We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Watson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
The last few months have made a lot of people, especially leaders of smaller nonprofits, wonder if they should throw in the towel. Donations are down, offices are closed, clients are not being served. Everyone is having to change direction to find ways to move forward while keeping everyone safe. Whenever I think about how easy it would be to step aside and let someone else figure it, I also think of our clients, and the fact that walking away would let them down. How could I just give up when hundreds of older adults are living in homes that are unsafe for them? How would I feel if the one organization that offered free services to help me age safely in place said no, we are closing shop and heading to the beach? So, when I am struggling on how to reopen safely and raise the money needed to fund our mission, I just think about the hundreds of lives we help every year, the tears of gratitude, and that one sweet grandmother who calls our volunteers her special angels.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Like many nonprofit leaders who have been around for a couple of decades, I fell in to the nonprofit sector by accident. But I soon learned that it was a good fit and have now been helping nonprofits across the U.S. grow and prosper for the past 25 years. Many of my challenges resulted from a spouse who had to move frequently for work, so every couple of years I would have to start over in a new city and prove myself all over again. It taught me to be my own brand ambassador and to not be shy about sharing my successes. The other thing I have learned over the years is that it is important to make time to learn as your career advances. Even when you are busy, stressed, or feeling burned out, it is important to feed your mind. For example, I am starting a Master’s program during a pandemic. And yes, I am exhausted and stressed but also energized by how this new educational endeavor will make me a better leader and person.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a back-to-nature girl, so I always take guests to my favorite pre-pandemic Valley spots. We would hike the trails in Usery and Lost Dutchman parks, and maybe spend a couple of days camping under the saguaros. If it’s spring, I would take them to the Scottsdale water front for a Sunday morning art show and brunch at Olive and Ivy. We would tour the Olive Mill in Queen Creek and stay for one of their fun Saturday social events. We would spend a day downtown, touring Roosevelt Row, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Heard Museum, and maybe catch a show at the Phoenix Theatre. The trip would end with a picnic dinner watching the sunset from South Mountain.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to the AMAZING Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun volunteers, who have not only supported the organization through offerings of their time, talent and treasure, but have also supported me through their wisdom, guidance, and encouragement. Without these awesome people, our organization would not be here today.