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Thursday, August 27th, 2020

Taking stock, looking ahead: A letter from CEO Joshua Silberstein reflecting on his first three months working with SVP.

The term “unprecedented” is frequently used to contextualize many aspects of a quickly changing world. It’s also a term that aptly describes what it’s like to assume a new position in a virtual landscape – just as our community, and our country, shut down due to the ongoing pandemic.

Nevertheless, in the first three months of my tenure as SVP Boulder County’s new CEO, I had the pleasure of meeting most of our Partners – albeit virtually – both in groups and individually. Since Day One, I’ve been consistently heartened to witness our Partners’ excitement for engaging with local nonprofits, and sincere appreciation and support of one another. After all, that’s why we do this work – for that experience of helping to build and support our community.

That said, understanding the many ways in which the pandemic has affected all our lives, I wasn’t sure how engaged SVP Partners would wish to be in this time of COVID. I quickly discovered the Partners’ strong appetite for engagement now.

Within the first couple weeks of my being on board, we came together as Partners and staff to define and expedite SVP’s response to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on local nonprofits. Since April, our COVID Response Task Force engaged 24 Partners to support and assist 38 organizations with a range of immediate needs – from helping nonprofits ensure their staff and organizational well-being to consultation on fundraising and strategic initiatives.

Indeed, our COVID Response Task Force and our Resource Teams – by which SVP Partners help our community’s nonprofits tackle myriad short-term projects – have greatly expanded both Partner engagement and the number of nonprofits we serve, beyond our longer-term Catapult investments and Invested Leaders program. Along the way, we’ve gained an awareness of how we can continue to increase Partner engagement across more Boulder County nonprofits. In particular, our Resource Teams are an effective – and affordable – means to be ever more responsive to nonprofits with immediate, near-term needs.

In Boulder County, we’re fortunate to have a number of dedicated nonprofits that provide frontline services. SVP exists to ask and act upon “who’s supporting them?” – both as organizations, and as people. We’re here to help nonprofits understand what stage of organizational development they’re in, and how to reach the next level. We’re also here to meet the increasing demand among nonprofit leaders, staff, and board members to more effectively rally around mutually agreed organizational goals, and to more efficiently and positively support one another in their daily work.

I hold profound appreciation for my predecessor, Jennie Arbogash, whose tireless effort grew and strengthened SVP as we know it. She laid the groundwork for our evolving programs and services, and she envisioned the potential for deepening SVP’s impact in our community. I see it as my job to build on that foundation by implementing greater awareness and visibility around SVP’s equity work, lifting up other area nonprofits whose equity efforts complement our own, and thereby expanding our role as a trusted collaborator, convener, community thought leader, and social justice influencer.

You – and all of us involved with SVP Boulder County – are in this work together. We share a vision for a more resilient, more equitable Boulder County. We share a desire to roll up our sleeves, problem-solve, and strengthen local nonprofits. And we share a commitment to refining our own organizational culture, ensuring our own organizational sustainability, and growing and measuring our impact.

To this end, the better we come to understand our privilege the better we can identify our role in this community, and the more available, accessible, and supportive we can be to local nonprofits. Among my priorities is to ensure that SVP Boulder County remains and becomes ever more welcoming and inclusive of diverse Partners and nonprofits.

The way I see it, SVP Boulder County is a living organism that’s ideally poised to respond and adapt to our times – including understanding and overcoming biases, and helping to address such complex issues as systemic racism, right here in our own backyard.

It’s my job to listen, to learn together with you, and to ensure that our Partners’ energy, experience, time, and treasure are applied in ways that best benefit all SVP stakeholders – and that position SVP as our community’s go-to resource for nonprofits.

With appreciation,

Joshua Silberstein

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