I just came back from the first – next steps – meeting of the Galo Plaza Foundation. This is the organization I have been talking about in some of my previous posts. Needless to say, I have a lot to learn! I studied how organizations work at Beloit, I worked with a few in a college context and was on the one board of directors, but I mostly served while I was abroad. So, hello real world. The meeting lasted close to 3 hours and it included a rainbow of people who didn’t necessarily have to do much with the foundation.
It is hard for me to put my thoughts down in words after this meeting, for there was a lot of frustration and thinking – on my part. Let me start by telling you a little about Galo Plaza, who’s name and work inspired the creation of this nonprofit in 1995. Plaza was the president of Ecuador from 1948-52, during his presidency he implemented a number of revolutionary laws that benefited the country’s poor. He was also the Secretary General of The Organization of American States, an ambassador of Ecuador in the United States and for the UN, he received a honorary degree from Harvard and did many other important things in his life. Anyway, Plaza was also my great-grand father which is the reason why his legacy inspired this foundation to honor his “mission, vision and life”.
The foundation has five main areas in which it is trying to work: education, environment, social-economic empowerment, anthropology/archeology and history. Each area has at least one working project and more than three potential ones that could happen. The amount of dedicated people that surround each area are, “lets call it, limited..” and the funds almost none existent. But these are not the reasons why I ended up frustrated in this meeting, although I do think they are spreading themselves too thin – or maybe not, who knows. The motives for my frustration were from two things, getting back into “team-work mode” and trying to come to terms with reality of non-profit work, which involves doing stuff that one is not as excited to do, dealing with lots of people with various levels of enthusiasm and finally remembering that money is KING. After this meeting, I started thinking how I see my self in relation to the foundation and the projects.
I haven’t yet reached a conclusion. For now, I will just keep learning as much as I can from the new president of the foundation, who is truly a remarkable woman, and later I’ll decide where I fit in the whole picture and how much of myself I should invest.