May 12, 2016

At Summer Search, the work we do is important, and it isn’t easy. That’s why we are so grateful to have such an amazing and talented team of superstars who are dedicated to helping young people soar.

We are also grateful, and extremely honored, to have recently been named one of the “50 Best Nonprofits to Work For” by The NonProfit Times for the fourth year in a row! What makes this designation extra special is that it comes from our staff, as these rankings are derived from a nationwide survey of staff members at nonprofit organizations.

So don’t take our word for it, let our staff tell you why working at Summer Search is pretty great! And as a special treat, you’ll get to hear from three of our staff members that are also alumni, who have the unique perspective of having been students in our program and now being employees.

Macaria Dove

Macaria (pictured above, left) is one of our newer employees, joining the Seattle fundraising team four months ago as a Development Associate.

Donaciano Botello Torres

Donaciano (middle) has been working in our North Bay office for a little more than a year. He is currently serving a dual role as a Mentor and a Program Assistant.

Stacey Thompson

As a staff veteran of 18 years (wow!), Stacey (right) has held many roles across the entire Summer Search network, from Intern, to Mentor, to Program Director. She is now our National Director of Program Performance.

QUESTION: Since joining staff, what have you learned about Summer Search that you weren’t aware of as a student?

Macaria: I had absolutely no idea the work and networking that goes into our fundraising. It’s really incredible to see all of the local philanthropists and beyond that care so deeply for our students and mission.

Donaciano: I learned about the time commitment that mentors make to try to connect with their students. I used to think that it was so easy and that anyone could do this job, but being on this end of the spectrum, I am able to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into preparing and learning how to be a better mentor day in and day out.

DBT-NB-MentorsDonaciano with some of his fellow hard-working North Bay mentors.

Stacey: As a student twenty years ago, I encountered Summer Search as a series of experiences and conversations that helped me learn about myself. I never knew why these experiences were so transformative.

Now I know that Summer Search takes a developmental approach with each student, using the same model, but requiring incredible skill and flexibility to meet each student where they are in their journey. The mentoring is tailored specifically to each student in how we build relationships, promote reflective conversations, and celebrate tangible successes that create a storyline for each student that they have an important voice, are capable and are the leaders our world needs. As a student I saw myself as just another kid, now I know all along Summer Search saw something much more!

QUESTION: Being both a Summer Search alumnus and a staff member, what keeps you inspired at work day in and day out?

Macaria: Summer Search instilled in me a strong sense of community. The example set by others caring for me, pushes me to give more and more. Thinking about the exponential value of this keeps me inspired every day.

Macaria-picMacaria (second from the right) at Seattle’s 2009 Fall Event.

Donaciano: For me the inspiration comes from seeing students connect the dots — the moment that they realize they are not alone in their educational journey and that they have someone they can count on. From receiving a small thank you note from a student, to playing soccer with them, to them telling me that no one else has ever said that they are proud of them, it is these small moments that really keep me going.

As an alum I know how powerful words of encouragement can be, but I also know that some of my realest conversations happened with people that cared about me because they challenged my actions, my thoughts and my perceptions. It was the feeling of being an equal among people that I respected that made me feel more empowered to thrive and strive for greatness.

Stacey: Great people, point blank! In a distracted and disconnected world, Summer Search continues to foster communities of connected and understanding people — The kind of people that care about what is below the iceberg. Summer Search students, staff and board members are generous in spirit and dedicated to growth. How nice it is to be constantly seen and challenged to grow!

stacey-t-picStacey (fourth from the right) with staff and New York City alumni at the 2015 Alumni Summit.

Community is so important here at Summer Search, whether it’s staff supporting each other in their daily work, or the constellations of support given to our students on their journeys to and through college. And it’s always EXTRA special when those journeys, of our college-educated leaders, lead them back to us!

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