by Izabella Eichensehr, Amelia Bragg-Phillips, Luis Diaz, Jetaly Traverso, and Joel Tolman, from CG’s Educational Change Intern Team
I am the Manager of Development and Communication. I get to celebrate all the great things that happen here at Common Ground. I also do a lot of social media posts on campus and work on monthly newsletters. I work on fundraising, to get people to make donations to sustain this special place.
What are your previous work experiences? What made CG a good next step for you?
This is actually my first time doing fundraising and communications. Common Ground’s mission really ties into my past work experience. I studied environmental studies with a focus on food justice in college. I also studied education. Most of my jobs focused on that intersection of the environment, education, and food. I worked in Vermont and New Hampshire, connecting schools to farms at a nonprofit. I also worked as a teacher who taught 3rd grade. I also worked as a nutrition educator in Philadelphia, with a variety of ages. Then, I directed after school programs at a community school – connecting students and their families to resources.
What part of CG made you come here? What motivates you to work here?
I moved here because my husband is attending nursing school at Fairfield University. When I heard about Common Ground, I felt so lucky because it was a place for me that combines my passions.
What really sold me is when I first visited the campus, and I saw all the student artwork on the walls, and the flags in the multi purpose room, and the beautiful farm. I was just really impressed with the people and the place – I knew I was in the right place.
What makes you want to work in an environment with young people?
I love young people, and I miss teaching, so I feel lucky that I still get to work with students. I think young people are just so inspiring. They are often more creative, and often think more clearly than adults, because they haven’t been as worn down by our oppressive society. Young people are filled with possibility, new ideas, honesty, and wonder.
What’s your approach to working with young people?
There’s two main components to my style. One is to be very respectful and listen. It’s important to me that people of any age, and especially young people, know that I hold them in high esteem and take their opinions seriously. The other part is to set things up in a way where everyone can be successful. I am really passionate about incorporating different learning styles, and making lessons fun and hands-on.
What’s your approach to fundraising and communications?
Shout out to our development director, Audrey, and the many people at Common Ground who have come before me. I love the storytelling aspect – we try to tell the stories of all the cool things that happen here, and uplift student voices, staff voices, community member voices. I didn’t come up with that; but I feel really honored to get to be part of that work at Common Ground.
What life experiences made you want to work in development and communications?
I thought it would be less stressful than being a teacher, or running ASPs. If people are giving you their kids to take care of, you are responsible. That was important work, but it felt like a lot of responsibility.
I take my work at Common Ground seriously, and have a lot of responsibility, but it’s a different kind of responsibility and I get to collaborate a lot, which I appreciate.
How does your job relate to students?
You might know me from crashing activities and taking photos but it’s so much more than that! I’m trying to raise money for students, and want students to have a well- resourced education. I get to work with students in many different ways. A lot of seniors have reached out to me because they want to get the word out about their senior projects on our social media. Doing things like community service and attending full day events, I get to communicate with students and document what they’re up to.
What’s one change you’d like to see at CG, and why?
I hope CG continues to let students be leaders. I want to be a part of getting CG more resources, so that students and staff have everything they need and deserve.
What do you want students and families to know about you as a person?
I’m always eager to meet new people, and deepen my connections to Common Ground – so I would love to talk with more students and families, and hear from them about our communications and fundraising. I’m always eager to uplift the projects they are working on.
I love food! I’m into eating delicious food. Like most Common Ground staff, I also like being outside and hiking.
I have two cats, Aspen and Dunebuggy, and they’re the cutest ever. Tied with Mr. Tolman’s cat, of course.