Last week, I announced that I'd be stepping down as Executive Director of MEDIAGIRLS. I know this was surprising to many of the people in my world. I get it. It's weird when founders leave because they almost always bring such an abundance of passion to the nonprofit they start (why else would you go through all that effort if you didn't feel strongly about the cause?). Many of you asked me what's next, and how I'm feeling about this transition. First, thank you for caring, and I figured I'd answer all of you who inquired at once.
As for what's next, I'm not sure yet. I'm in the process of interviewing for jobs in which I will NOT be the leader but rather a team player. I want to bring my love of storytelling and creating content to help heal this broken world while continuing to empower others. Here's my job wishlist if any of you are curious. Is it crazy to leave a job when you don't have another one lined up, especially in this economy? Probably. But I've always trusted my gut, and it's served me well (minus those cringey embarrassing moments, but those always make for the best stories).
As for how I'm feeling about the transition, I feel joyful. Keep in mind that I made the decision to step down last fall so I've had plenty of time to process the multitude of intense feels. I also believe that one of the best things a founder can do is know when it's time to go, and make sure that there's a strong plan in place for the hand-off. It's time.
Sidenote: If you ever create your own business, do not call it your "baby." You can't imagine how many times people labeled MEDIAGIRLS my baby, and I even came to believe it for several years. If you buy into this common notion, you will also believe that no one can really take care of your "baby" other than you. It's YOU that has to stay up at all hours feeding the crying baby and paying endless attention to it and not getting a break and feeling alone. Do yourself a favor and consider it a business that you care deeply about, and surround yourself with the right people to grow it.
That brings me to gratitude. I'm feeling full of it, for the wise, supportive, board who has always had my back, and for Amanda Mozea, our Education Outreach Manager, who brings so much attention to detail, challenges me in the best ways, and helped make our programming deeper and more substantial for the brown and black girls we serve. She brings the fire, and has an even softer heart than she knows. I'm thankful for the volunteers, mentors, donors, and cheerleaders who helped MEDIAGIRLS inspire thousands of girls along the way to use their voice to speak up and learn to advocate. I love this village so much, and am excited to watch the next leg of the journey.
I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to lead an organization based on the values I care most deeply about: empowering other people to do their best work rather than micromanaging; collaborating instead of competing; expressing gratitude for the gifts and kindnesses offered; being transparent even when you don't feel like it; asking for help; and building solid relationships. I made my fair share of humbling mistakes along the way, but I don't believe I lost sight of my values.
The universe did me a solid in bringing on Angela Scott as our Interim Executive Director. Angela has been such a pivotal part of the MEDIAGIRLS staff for several years, and taught me to be a more strategic and organized thinker. She shares my overall values, and brings her own set of unique talents to expand MEDIAGIRLS. She is warm and funny, and one of my favorite people.
So here's to being grateful for what we have, continuing to adjust and take risks, staying true to our own values and having faith in the magic of new beginnings. Please connect with me at LinkedIn if you'd like to stay in touch.
Michelle Cove is a journalist, filmmaker, author, and founder of the nonprofit MEDIAGIRLS. She uses storytelling and media to encourage, challenge, empower and inspire others and is seeking a job that allows her to put these skills to use; check out her resume if you may know the right fit. Michelle's favorite stories involve resilience, a blend of soft humility and sharp humor, and a belief that the universe is conspiring to help us all grow. Find her at LinkedIn.
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