|Kate Titford, NeighborWorks |
America, General Counsel
When I was first asked to blog on “What Community Development Means to Me,” I spaced out for a few minutes — not unlike the kid in A Christmas Story after he is assigned the theme “What I Want for Christmas.” And as I reflected on a career that has held at least as much excitement and joy as a Red Rider BB Gun, it was the faces that stuck out to me more than the accomplishments. So I am exerting some editorial liberty and assigning myself the more relevant theme: “What my Community Development Mentors Have Meant to Me.”
Marcea, my boss at that first job, broke me into office life and introduced me to the different moving parts of the community development scene. When the going got tough at the national housing intermediary where we worked, Marcea encouraged me step up to the plate on challenging new projects that stretched me professionally and cultivated my passion for this work. I laugh to think about my early days in the 9-to-5 world: I was a spirited 22-year old who wouldn’t be caught dead in a suit.
|Marcea and Me|
I owe much of my happiness in my professional life to these mentors. Their generosity of time and knowledge helped guide me through the critical junctures to where I am – who I am – now in community development. They made an investment that will pay off for the entire field of community development. As we descend on Cincinnati to discuss the opportunity of welcoming the next generation of leadership to community development, let’s pause and remember what mentors have meant to each of us in our careers. Let’s pay tribute to those who helped each of us find our own special place in the field. And —above all— let us recommit ourselves to mentoring the young professionals who will usher community development into its next era.