Faith Wagner-Dunbar is the program coordinator for America Reads and AmeriCorps at Arizona State University. Her company is Arizona State University located on the Tempe campus. Faith has been in this position for the past four months, in this profession for the past three years and a half and with the organization, Arizona State University for the past two semesters. Faith has a Bachelors of Arts in Family Study and Human Development and is currently working towards her masters in Non-profit study.
After beginning the interview with exchange of small talk about work and how our days were going, I explained to Faith about risky situations at work and what I was learning about in class. I gave a few examples such as risks in change, organizational risks and communication risks in the workplace and how that may affect the programs entirety. The first question I asked her was what her job duties entail exactly. Many duties are to manage all aspects of America Reads program while supervising directly staff and indirectly tutors who work in the program. Also to keep the program in compliance with ASU, The site partners as well as keep compliance with the programs mission. I followed up by asking how she keeps up with the maintenance of site partnerships; she starts with update emails, spreadsheets as well as yearly in person meetings. When asking about what risks faith my see developing she responded with none, but gave me a list of what risks may occur. For one faith took over this program fairly recently (October of 2014), many risks that may occur are due to the change the staff have seen.As well as others in the company who may be hesitant to change with how sites are ran and how the company is ran. Organizational risks may occur as well such as communicating policies and procedures while maintaining consistency in enforcing the policies and procedures.I followed up by asking how she keeps this consistency, what she does is make sure that they are easy to follow and are clear to understand. Safety risks are the highest of possible risks, working with children and with Arizona State University student employees, a coordinator needs to know what is going on at all times and making sure that everything is in compliance with what it needs to be. Child safety needs to be monitored as well as program safety, that includes how employees are hired, what requirements are needed to work at this position as well as how they are being treated in the work place. As well as providing support for all involved with this program. Faith mentioned that she is trying to build a culture of autonomy for tutors with a little push from managers and supervisors.
With all these possible risks Faith maintains it with ease. Her key ideas to maintain everything are simple; Communicating effectively in the work place and enforcing the policies and procedures. Also what she told me is a big help is being open to change and new ideas. With new employees come new ideas that may work better than the one in force. When saying that it’s not necessarily policies and procedures that change but instead how site is ran. In addition to being open to change faith stays consistent and true to her word, in doing so it sets the example for all other employees.
Continuing on I asked more questions on how she is building this culture of freedom and autonomy. She said that what helps is positive reinforcement. This idea was one example on giving feedback, mentioned in chapter 2, another example she gave me was incentives such as tutor of the month and gift cards to the site with no mistakes on time sheets. Using incentives and a little bit of competition Faith says it will be good for tutors and staff to receive something for doing a great job. Also it starts a little competition for managers and supervisors to get in the habit of getting time sheets in the correct format and in on time.
Faith’s interview gave me view into the looking glass of being a program coordinator, which is something I want to do after I graduate but for more than one non-profit. After this interview it doesn’t discourage me, but it opens my eyes to how much work it is to run only one program. I feel as though I need to start thinking more about what non-profit I would want to work with and how I would make sure everything was organized and in place. Also how I would deliver risky situations to employees such as change, and feedback. Throughout the interview I caught myself just listening and agreeing with faith about how she runs site.
After the interview I asked Faith for advice on how to be successful in this field and what is some advice you would say to a younger person who wants to do this in the future. “Organization is very important. You need to be organized if you’re working on many projects” Faith explains. Also being flexible with change is very important, Faith tells me that a lot of the times in Non-profit organizations thing go the way they have always gone. Instead hearing positive feedback and providing some change that may make it easier for employees to get to the issues at hand. As for being a program coordinator, Faiths advice is to have strong policies and to be consistent in reinforcing them and reprimanding when needed. Also having a strong a foundation with a flexible form, which comes back to her point on being open to change. The last point of advice that Faith gave me was to not steer away of your mission in working with non-profit. With wanting to do so many projects it is easy to drift from one project or to change your mission outcome.
The best advice I can take away from Faith is to be organized and open to change. As a student who is interested in one day starting my own non-profit and helping other ones start up, Faith’s big emphasis for me was to do my research. When wanting the help people it is easy to get ahead of yourself but to take a step back do my research on the project will be helpful when deciding on concentrations for a non-profit. With being organized it just helps a programs outcome. Organizational risks as well are something to take into considerationwhen communicating directions and rules to a program, to ensure that everything is running smooth in the program. Making sure that one is on top of everything is key in my eyes to being successful and by doing so you need good communication with employees and a good relationship with them. Hearing Faith’s story made me feel more certain that this is something I want to do in the future.