Last night, I attended my final event as executive director of Lit Cleveland, our annual holiday mixer at CLE Urban Winery (click on the image to the left to watch the video). Of course, as soon as we'd set the date I learned from a fellow board member whose kids attend the same school as mine, Campus International School in Cleveland, that our winter concert was the same night. After a series of emails to board members, as well as assigning new executive director Christine Howey her first task of "hauling shit," as she memorably put it, I delegated the event setup (something I normally would have done with volunteers) to them. Man, that felt good. And a perfect hand-off, in a way. Not that the job involves hauling a lot of shit ... well, yeah, it kinda does. OK, I guess it's actually the perfect metaphor for transitioning, since being director entails logistical behind-the-scenes magic-making to create events and programs (AKA "hauling shit").
I spent the night catching up with old friends, receiving compliments, and generally trying to avoid doing any work or talking shop. It was nice to see so many people (the room was full with about 60 people) and know that my work had made a difference in the community. Board member Aaron Schmidt stood on a chair (we also lacked a sound system) and feted my work over the past four years, and then I stood on the same chair and talked about what it's meant to me to help start a now-successful literary arts nonprofit in Cleveland and thanked everyone for their support. As I told folks at the event, I feel lucky to have been the vessel (wait, that sounds too religious -- vehicle? beast of burden? jalopy?) that has helped start and grow this community-supported organization. Now, others will help bring Lit Cleveland to the next level.
I have a feeling I'll write more about this later, but here are five takeaways I'd like to share about being a nonprofit executive director.
One of my memories from last night's event were all the people who came up to me and said, we'll still see you next year, right? It's satisfying to know that there's still a place for me here, if nothing else as a teacher. Next year, I'm looking forward to finding more balance in my life, helping with Lit CLE, and cheering on the next executive director. Onward!