How I Went from Nonprofit Maven to InterWorks Director of Employee Experience


How I Went from Nonprofit Maven to InterWorks Director of Employee Experience

by Brandi White

"How I Went from" is an ongoing blog series that highlights our employees' different journeys to InterWorks. The results are pretty diverse, but each story is special in its own right.

For twelve years, I was part of something so special, so greater-than-myself, that I assumed I would never, ever want to leave. I was fortunate enough to be on a team of do-gooders running a nonprofit that offered services to child victims of abuse, and every day was a roller coaster of tragedy and triumph.

Life at an Advocacy Center

My life as the executive director of a children’s advocacy center was usually focused on the boring nonprofit basics of grant-writing, fundraising and administering programs, but I also closely supervised my staff who were doing the “real work.”

Our staff each had a specialty: nursing, counseling, forensic interviewing, advocacy, outreach, and I worked very hard to protect them from the inevitable vicarious trauma felt by so many in the helping fields. We focused on self-care and team-building, ensuring that they knew they had a built-in support system – and let’s be honest, plenty of adult beverages.

Fundraiser at Stillwater High Scool

Above: Accepting a generous check from Stillwater High School on behalf of the Saville Center.

The Next Chapter

When I knew it was time to leave (these professions tend to have an expiration date, unfortunately), I wanted to feel like I would still have that same impact in my next adventure. So, obviously I thought, “human resources,” right? No, to be clear, if InterWorks had posted a job called “Human Resources Manager,” there would have been no possibility I would have even looked twice at that. But, ”Director of Employee Experience?” HELL YES.

A Whole New and Whacky World

Arriving at InterWorks was a life-changer. I was Dorothy when the color comes on. The work is difficult, and the people are intense and everything happens in a bizarre kaleidoscope of Nerf guns and off-color jokes. And I absolutely love it. Do I understand everything that happens here? No. Do I feel like a fish-out-of-water almost every day? Yes. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

A selfie from the InterWorks holiday party.

Above: A selfie from the IW holiday party.

Improving Together

My hope is that I can take some of those hard-earned social work empathy skills and put them to good use here, because frankly, everyone could use an advocate at work. Everyone has experienced burnout or hurt or frustration. When Behfar and Staci spoke to me about this position, it was with the true hope that I could have an impact on employee engagement and contentment. I literally work for someone who wants only the best for their team, and so again I have found myself as part of something pretty special …

… and still hoping to pitch “Chief Happiness Officer” as my future title.

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More About the Author

Brandi White

Global Director of Employee Experience
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