All the gifts my first boss gave me…

1994-09 Harborview Goodbye Party

Some pals at my goodbye party leaving Harborview; Cliff is on the left, that’s me on the right.

At times, you only understand how good a thing is when you look back on it.

Such is the case with the boss in my very first job – Cliff Sanderlin.

My first fundraising job was at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. What a great mission, what great healing, what changed lives! A Level I trauma center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, with heroic stories of healing, Harborview was a part of the University of Washington. They were some of the most dedicated staff – medical staff and non-medical staff – I’ve met. It was a privilege to raise needed funds while there.

And three of us – Cliff, Rebecca Fong and me – were building the fundraising office from the ground up. I was so excited. And I had no idea how it would change my life as I started on a fantastic career journey I’m still on.

I know now that the most important things I got out of my time there were the many gifts that Cliff gave me.

Gift #1 – the opportunity. We often come across this gift in life – a door opened. When we get a gift like this, we always need to make the most of it – take that first step to walk through the door (or even knock on the door to get it opened!). I was intrigued by what fundraisers were doing when I was working at the University of Washington College of Engineering in a secretarial role.  Cliff was the Associate Director of Development there – and when he left to take a job at Harborview, I asked if I could become a fundraiser too – I wanted a job there. We talked. He saw something in me that would succeed. I applied and joined the team.

Gift #2 – he built a great team. Cliff looked for someone he had worked with before (Rebecca), and someone new (me!). Cliff considered his strengths, and tapped another colleague to join him. And then he added me to the team. And then, he worked with us to set expectations and help us grow. He made sure there were times of fun along with the hard work. It may have been the ease and challenge of a small shop, but we felt we could do almost anything! Continue reading

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