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General | December 28, 2022

The Year Behind, The Work Ahead

By Katie Weitz, PhD

My mom said the “pandemic put us in time-out,” and as we emerged from the fear (while still immersed in illness), it seemed we couldn’t escape the reality that health is central to our ability to work. This year my family lost a best friend, our team lost loved ones, and we had health scares from our fathers, sons, and a nephew. A dear team member moved on to new opportunities in the spring. Throughout the summer months, we all seemingly took turns feeling ill. A true test for our team came this fall when an out of state relative was dealt a significant blow, and I spent most of the fall in Texas.

The terrific news is that we hired a new leader this year, Emily Nguyen, as Deputy Director. She, alongside returning Program staff Alexzia Plummer and Robia Qasimyar, were able to move through our review process and step up to put together a strong slate of recommendations. As Executive Administrator, Danielle Ohlman managed key logistical pieces to ensure we were prepared for our board meeting. New dimensions of technical assistance and internal support became a reality with the addition of Mynesha Spencer and Renee Fry as Human Resources and Policy team members respectively. This brilliant group of women reviewed many dimensions of our work, identified strengths, and bolstered weak areas.

For me this was a true personal success. Knowing that we have a focused staff that shows up in the community with the values and commitment of the Weitz Family Foundation is a tremendous point of pride. Building this team means that we can add strategy, capacity, and the ability to address issues internally as well as lead by example and assist others.

 

 

It is also a reminder that to do new things, I must let go of past responsibilities. Maybe the universe took me to Dallas so I could watch how well the team would step up. I am grateful for how the team is nurturing the Weitz Family Foundation’s work. I look forward to working on new projects with Danielle Ohlman as my right hand. I plan to continue learning, connecting, fundraising, problem-solving, and playing a supportive role internally now that I can let go of many of the day-to-day duties.

Going through difficult times shows us our strengths and exposes our weaknesses.

It is clear to me that health must be a focus for me, for individuals on my team, and within our community. I must attend to my own physical, mental, and spiritual health before I can attend to others. We cannot ignore the reality that the pandemic is still with us, and while it is okay to set aside fear, we need to emerge from time-out having learned lessons and with a willingness to do better. Whether I am in Texas or Tokyo, please know I am not waiting for the new year to put this resolution into practice. The baby step in this direction is to look toward the local experts at UNMC College of Public Health efforts and research.

See something you want to learn more about? Let me know what ideas this sparks for you and your organization. The best thing about being out of time-out, is we get to be together—and I am optimistic we will do meaningful work together in 2023.

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