Balancing Philanthropy and Your Career: 3 Tips from Kathy Surace-Smith

This is a guest post by Vanessa Ronquillo, Project Manager at Array Health and an active member of the Emerging Leaders program.

Earlier this week, United Way’s Emerging Leaders had the opportunity to hear from one of the top women in the legal industry and committed philanthropist: Kathy Surace-Smith. Kathy talked to the young professionals in the audience about the importance of philanthropy and career development as illustrated in her own life. Her career path has led her to work in many industries from banking to telecommunications, ultrasounds and now genomics and she has been able to weave in time for family and philanthropy.

Here are Kathy’s top tips on how she was able to balance these priorities in her life successfully through the different phases of her career:

Manage energy not time. As a lawyer, Kathy used to quantify productivity with time spent but after reading the book, The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz she realized the importance of balancing your energy between emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical parts of your life. “If you take care of yourself, you’ll work more efficiently and productively in all aspects of life,” she advised the audience.

Have a growth mindset (Be curious). Kathy also urged the audience to stray away from a fixed mindset… i.e.. If you are open minded and willing to learn you can grow more rapidly especially in your career. Don’t be stuck and be willing to be vulnerable by asking all the questions you need to understand. Be curious and ready to continuously learn and experience something new.

Be selective about your time. This is critical especially when you commit to being involved with nonprofit work and having a demanding career at the same time. Ask yourself some key questions when selecting the right nonprofit organization to be part of. Like what do you really care about? Who are the board members? What is their reputation, are they respectable and intelligent? Is there a good staff?

Work life balance is never 50/50. There will always be variable allocation depending on the individual and their personal choices. A big thank you to Kathy who found the right balance for herself and is now a role model to young professionals trying to figure out the same for themselves.

Kathy Surace-Smith’s talk was part of the Emerging Leaders Speaker Series. The Emerging Leaders program is open to young professionals in their 20s and 30s interested in connecting with their local community. Join us at our next event by signing-up for our monthly emails and be in the know about our upcoming events and opportunities.

 

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