CEDAM is excited to welcome and introduce our new events & membership specialist, Shawn Masters! Shawn joins our team with a long history working in the nonprofit sector and a strong connection to our organization’s mission.
Emily: Tell me about your experience in the nonprofit world?
Shawn: My very first experience with nonprofit work, I believe it was 1999, was as a finance secretary with an organization called CAUSE: Citizens Alliance to Uphold Special Education. They had advocates that would work with parents going through the process of creating IEP’s for their children. I think that was the point when I really decided that whatever it is I do, I wanted it to have meaning.
I took a break from nonprofit for maybe 10 years when my children were in school. I was a stay at home mom for a while and when I went back to the workforce I took whatever jobs I could in accounting, as that was my college training. I worked for some construction companies and I just never felt my piece of that was making an impact, so I left. Recently divorced and without a job, my two children and I went to live with my mom. I took a year to really find something that felt important and found my position at the Lansing Area AIDS Network (LAAN). Initially what drew me there was the connection I made with the staff during the interview process, how warm and welcoming they were, as well as how passionate they were about their work.
E: Why CEDAM?
S: I didn’t even know what CEDAM was about yet but I was looking at the job description and it really both connected with what I was already doing and looked like it had an opportunity for me to grow into a position as well, and I think that’s important. After I did more research I was able to make a connection with my past as a single mom, full time student, part-time employee doing all I could to make ends meet with WIC, food stamps, Medicaid, and terrible home rental situations. The types of services CEDAM members provide are the types of services that would have helped and did help my family. I have and continue to receive a lot of judgement, which is interesting, because don’t we want people to succeed? I believe I personally reaped this benefit that helped me get to where I am today, and I don’t need those things anymore but I think it’s important that those who do, have access too, so they can also grow, become stable, their children aren’t affected by these things that are awful to see. There’s so much else going on in the world, let us fix the things we can fix.
E: When it comes to engaging with our members, what are you most excited about?
S: I’m excited to learn about what other organizations are doing, what the members are doing, and finding out how we can help members achieve what they’re out to do so that they can help lift people up. I’m excited to learn more so I can pull people in more, maybe make them more excited about what they’re doing. A lot of the time it’s easy to lose your passion for something if you get caught up in the everyday stuff—it’s easy to forget what we’re doing, what we’re here for. I do look forward to changing things up. I don’t know what that means yet, but it’s actually one of the reasons why I decided to leave LAAN because I had been there for seven years and felt that seat needed a new perspective. I’ve done what I can do, it’s time for someone else to build on that and take them somewhere different, somewhere better. I’m excited to see what I can bring and how I can improve, and again, I don’t know what that means yet. I love the fact that everything I’m hearing so far is receptive to that.
E: What would you like to tell our membership about yourself?
S: I’m a very open minded person and I’d like to hear what people have to say, so if members have ideas, suggestions, or things they want to see or pieces that are missing, I’m always happy to hear it.
What’s the last book you read?
- Girl, Wash Your Face
What are you currently binge-watching?
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow where would you go?
What album are you currently listening to?
- Taylor Swift’s new album, Lover. She is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.