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17 Amazing Years for Me … and a Great Future for SVP!

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Last month, I sent out the note below to current and past SVP Partners and hundreds of friends, colleagues all over the world. Hitting “send,” knowing that my next career path in life is TBD, took me a few extra seconds … but then once I did, it felt good. I LOVE what I am doing today AND I can’t wait to see what the future holds, not just for me, but for everyone in the SVP network all over the world.

February 27, 2015

17 years ago, over lunch at Etta’s in Seattle, Paul Brainerd offered me the opportunity of a lifetime. It seemed like a “good job,” but SVP became an incredible journey and passion.

From the very first grant committees in 1998 (we made 7 grants, which we quickly learned was too many for our brand new organization) … to our first SVP “international” conference in Pittsburgh … to moving into our new space (woops, nowhere to “live” for 3 weeks) … to watching Investees like Rainier Scholars & College Access Now and many others soar in this community … to more and more Partners taking leadership roles across the region.

I’d need a novel to share all the awesome memories.

Now it’s time to hand that leadership journey and opportunity to a new person to take SVP Seattle to greater impact. Over the next 3-5 months, I will transition out of my role as Executive Connector of SVP Seattle and the Board is beginning a search to find a new leader.

I’ve never felt a greater sense of potential for SVP.  The Board is strong, the staff has never been better, we’ve had exceptional growth in Seattle (more Partners in our network than ever before) and around the world (39 cities, 8 countries and more to come). Partners and Investees are reaching for more positive change than ever and our programs continue to evolve to meet and accelerate those efforts. With the addition of Conservation Leaders, our Communities of Practice, Collective Action, etc. and our exploration into impact investing and deeper diversity, equity & inclusion work, SVP is still cutting edge and the best is yet to come!

As for what’s next for me, that’s TBD, I look forward to exploring what’s out there. I have a few ideas, but my goal is simply to find the role in life where I can have the most positive impact in this world. I’m publishing a book in September – more on that later. I will stay connected to SVP as the Founding President of the SVP International Network Board and will be a champion and an SVP Partner forever!

I know I’ve had an impact and I’m proud as heck, but it’s the commitment of Partners that have truly made SVP what it is and will ensure this organization soars to new heights. My feelings of pride, hope, and thanks are overwhelming … and will be for the rest of my life. The admiration I feel for Paul B and all the founders – Scott Oki, Ida Cole, Maggie & Doug Walker, Bill Neukom – and the countless people that have helped build the SVP movement is immeasurable.

I’d be lyin’ if I said this isn’t gonna be hard for me. SVP has let me live and breathe my favorite quote, below (sorry for the gender skew), every day for the last 17 years of my life. The connection I feel to SVP is woven into my heart and soul. THANK YOU.

— Paul S, Executive Connector

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” — Teddy Roosevelt


One Comment:

  1. Steve Leahy

    Your leadership for SVP and our community are truly appreciated, Paul. All the best on the next leg of your journey. I left the Seattle Chamber after many years not knowing what was next—both scary and exhilirating, just like you’re experiencing. Lots of great options on the “other side.” So many ways to make a difference for others and to be on the vertical learning curve that new challenges require!


    Steve Leahy

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