We’re proud to celebrate the people who serve and connect our incredible community. Each month, we interview a different member of Resilience’s community to hear more about the work they’re doing to empower survivors and end sexual violence. This month, we’re shining a spotlight on Jon Center, President of Resilience’s Board of Directors. Read our interview below to hear from Jon about the work he’s done with Resilience over the past four years and what he’s looking forward to in Resilience’s new fiscal year.
Read our interview with Jon below
At the time I joined the board, I myself was going through my own healing process and coming to terms with the realization that I had been a survivor of sexual abuse as a child. I worked with my therapist to identify an organization where I could support, give back to, and help individuals who unfortunately experienced something similar to what I did. Through that exploration process, I was introduced to Resilience and more specifically Erin Walton, who was the Executive Director at the time. We met and I really connected with her and the mission of the organization for a variety of reasons. It aligned with what was going on in the world at that time and it felt as if the stars aligned for me to get involved. When Erin and I connected, it was the height of the #MeToo Movement, and I really felt like as I was going through my own healing and self-exploration, I had a lot to bring to the table from my own experiences to help further the organization’s mission and to help it capitalize on the momentum of the Movement. It was refreshing that more and more people were talking more openly about these types of issues and also saddening that so many others had kept their stories and terrible experiences to themselves for so long. The past few years have been really eye-opening and impactful to me in terms of both the people I’ve met at the organization and on the Board and I hope to be able to continue to support the great work that the organization does.
This month you became President of Resilience’s Board of Directors. What do you hope to accomplish as Board President during your term?
It’s no secret that there have been some funding challenges for the organization. From an economic perspective, stabilizing the organization is going to be critical to ensure that we can continue to support survivors and those who utilize the amazing services that Resilience provides. I think first and foremost we will try to get a little more strategic and creative in our funding sources to ensure that we’re better protected and not so reliant just upon the government grants and the powers that be, that can make decisions that could be an existential threat to the organization. I also really look forward to working with our new Executive Director, Donna. It was great to get to know and work with the former Executive Director for the first few years. She did a tremendous job throughout her time and we wish her the best. I really look forward to the sophistication and experience that Donna brings having worked in the nonprofit space for many years. I think we have a great opportunity to weather the difficult storm and really get creative and thoughtful in helping the organization come out of the difficult situation that it’s in right now, and come out better than it ever has and potentially a little bit different than it has been historically. That can always be a challenge. I think overall I hope to ensure that we can continue to serve survivors in whatever ways we can. We’ve got a great opportunity to think freshly about that and I’m really excited about that challenge.
Looking ahead at this fiscal year, what do you anticipate being some of the challenges or priorities Resilience will have?
As I mentioned, a significant portion of funding from ICASA has been cut not only for us but for other organizations that serve the same constituents as we do due to VOCA funding cuts. So I think the greatest challenge is going to be weathering that. There’ll be some difficult decisions that need to be made as it relates to where our investments can go and ensuring that we are appropriately serving those in need. We’ve got a great Board serving the organization who are individuals with a tremendous amount of passion and experience that have been through difficult economic challenges before. I think as we put our heads together with Donna and with the rest of the executive team, with input from the organization, we’re going to make damn sure that we’re not missing a step, and that we’re out in the community supporting survivors. There will be challenges as we determine how to move forward and get our fiscal situation in order. But the decisions that are going to be reached and the collective brainpower that’s going to come together, it is all focused on ensuring that we’ve got the right base and good foundation to be able to serve our constituents now and into the future in a meaningful way.
What is one thing you’re really looking forward to in the next year as Board President?
I’d say I’m looking forward to what I’m going to call the new chapter of Resilience, or Resilience 2.0. We’ve recently had turnover in leadership at the organization with people moving on to other opportunities. With the financial challenges that we’re facing here, over the last six or twelve months or so, change and turnover have been hard. Fiscal challenges are hard, but at the same time, I think they present a tremendous opportunity to start fresh in a way and to think outside of the box to leverage the great foundation that already exists and the great work that has been done by so many people for so many years. It would be great to elevate that to a different level and to potentially pivot in different ways that are often difficult when you just have a sort of stagnant way of thinking. So I think as difficult as it is having sort of fresh blood and fresh perspectives and challenges and the need for us to be a little bit more fiscally thoughtful and responsible will force us to make really interesting decisions that could, in the long run, be incredibly beneficial and impactful to the organization.
What is one memory, or experience as a Board member that you’re most proud of?
I’m most proud of co-chairing Evening of Impact a couple of years ago. It was a super rewarding and valuable experience to see the planning efforts come to fruition working alongside the team. Their commitment to making the event such a success was awesome. I think the event continues to get better and better every year. Obviously, we had a hiccup with COVID in terms of what we could do, but I think we’ve come out of that and had a phenomenal event last year. There’s some great momentum for us to continue to think about how we can maximize our impact and continue to educate individuals who are coming to that event and learning about Resilience for the first time about all the great services that are being offered. It’s just such a great flagship opportunity to engage our donors and being at the forefront of that was really fun.
What’s one fun fact about you?
I am completely obsessed with golf. And I’ve used that in positive ways. For 11 years, up until COVID, I had run an annual charity golf event of which Resilience was the beneficiary for a couple of years. I started it all under a 501(c)(3) called Foursomes 4 Philanthropy. I would get together family, friends, and colleagues to raise money for local organizations. That was the perfect marriage of my love of golf and my desire to give back to the community. It was a wonderful way for people to get together and support meaningful causes. I’m really proud of my efforts and the collective participation of my friends, family, and colleagues over the years. I hope to pick that up again at a future date. That was a good run.