EDI: Hi Carmen! We heard about your recent career change and would love to learn more about it. Help tell our readers, what’s the recent change that happened?
Carmen: Recently I decided to take a leap of faith and make a complete career change. After being in the banking industry for over 15 years, I accepted a position with Junior Achievement (JA) of Washington as Regional Director for their Northern Region.
EDI: How did this opportunity present itself?
Carmen: I have been a JA volunteer for many years, in addition about 4 years back I joined their Regional Board and become their Board Chair in 2017. Right about this time JA went through some Executive level leadership changes and the new JA WA State President and CEO, Natalie Vega O’Neil approached me with the opportunity to join her leadership team.
EDI: What made you decide to change from the banking industry to non-profit?
Carmen: After much thought and consideration, I decided to accept because I am at a point in my life where it has become more and more important for me to give back in more significant ways. After volunteering with a number of nonprofits, teaching financial literacy to at-risk youth and low income adults, I realized the importance of reaching individuals earlier and in my opinion, no organization does that better than Junior Achievement. With their pillars of success – Financial Education, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Readiness JA teaches K-12th grade kids the skills needed to own the economic and financial success in a global economy.
EDI: Did you face any challenges along the way? If so what?
Carmen: Many factors made this transition a challenge. Number one being the fact that I had never worked for a nonprofit organization.
EDI: How did you overcome those challenges?
Carmen: I tapped into a lot of what I learned going through EDI- I put my Behavior Styles learning to work as I needed to understand and adapt to my new team’s diverse learning styles to be the effective communicator and leader JA hired me to be. Banding and Networking has been critical to my transition and success as I am responsible for raising the funds needed to bring JA programs to my region’s schools and youth. Speak to Persuade has been critical to my focus on bringing in new donors and supporters.
EDI: How are you able to apply your experience from KeyBank to JA?
Carmen: I would say that my results driven mentality, my ability to adapt to change and I must thank KeyBank for giving me opportunity in 2013 to participate in EDI’s Leadership Discovery. This most of all has given me the tools to be a successful leader at KeyBank and now Junior Achievement.
EDI: What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?
Carmen: I hope to continue to be successful in bringing awareness to the community of the value of teaching the JA curriculum at our schools to empower our youth to become the entrepreneurs and leaders we know they can be, while engaging the business community to give their financial support to a nonprofit invested in the youth that will become the workforce of the future.
EDI: If you could give one piece of advice to the 2019 EDI class what would it be?
Carmen: Keep looking forward, learn from your mistakes and use that knowledge to propel you to becoming the leader you know in your heart is waiting to take flight.
EDI: Thank you so much for your time today, Carmen! We miss seeing you at our EDI Board Meetings!