Career Pathways: A Transformative Journey of Self-Discovery

Monday, September 12, 2022 - 9:00 am
Kadar Lewis

Participating in the Council on Foundations' Career Pathways program changed my life for the better. How? The most valuable takeaway was to be bold and to tell the world who we are. In so many ways, Career Pathways helped me and the rest of my cohort cultivate our strengths and our voices. Personally, the program helped me look deep inside and reaffirm the infinite possibilities that my career in the nonprofit sector, and now specifically philanthropy, holds for the future.   

The work I am doing at The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation has been enhanced by my time in the Career Pathways program.  I centered my capstone project on the expansion of the foundation’s current capacity-building efforts. We hope to do more beyond the grant including supporting nonprofit sustainability, professional development, strategic planning, and successful executive transitions. Additionally, we aim to change the narrative from negative to neutral or positive regarding organizations in transition and inspire peer funders to invest deeper in — rather than moving away from — nonprofits during these moments.   

Career Pathways is not only a joyous, transformative journey of self-discovery but also a well-crafted balance of learning materials and career development experiences. The program is facilitated expertly by Council staff; a fantastic lead facilitator, Dr. Montressa; and a smattering of special guests, including many Career Pathways alumni who have attained key leadership positions since completing the program. In addition, the executive coaching element of the program provided critical reflection, inspiration, skill-building opportunities, and moral support.  

Above all, the cohort experience was what made Career Pathways special and meaningful. It was exhilarating to share the program with peers and develop together in real-time during sessions. Within the first learning week, we bonded and dived deeply into substantive and heartfelt dialogue. Since graduating, we continue to connect in various forums for mutual support.   

After Career Pathways, my perspectives broadened, and I came to trust my abilities and the value I bring to this work at a deeper level. My cohort realized that we choose leadership to hold space, to operate with participatory love, to affirm our communities, and to become the leaders we’ve been hoping for and waiting for. Career Pathways helped us realize that this is our moment to expand equity, diversity, and inclusion work and move it to the next level. 

In conclusion, the rewards of Career Pathways are unequivocally worth the sacrifice of time and energy. The gift of this experience has changed me for the better and will stay with me throughout my career. Career Pathways was exactly what I needed to reaffirm my commitments to this work and provide new tools and the additional confidence in my abilities to be an effective future philanthropic leader. 

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Professional Development