We’re making changes

Growing up, I always knew I wanted a job with a purpose. What I didn’t expect was for my cup to overflow.

It took 26 years to get there, but it was worth the wait.

The seed was planted in my youth—watching my mom and dad with careers that made them excited. They loved what they did with their whole hearts, and it was infectious. My perception of work was that it was a calling, not a daily grind.

Yes, this is what I wanted—but it took 26 years to get there.

Well, that’s not entirely truthful because, in 2009, I experienced a call to action—a tug I’d never felt before. A very driven group of people saw a big hole that needed to be filled. Conversations began around forming a new mission—one that would give Families HOPE. 

We were launching a nonprofit with a mission of helping families bridge the financial gap that came with therapy. We were going to invest in ability.  

We called ourselves Family Hope Foundation.

A meeting was held, and the community was invited. We built a talented 18-person Board of Directors—founding members.  

This Board covered all the start-up expenses, and the first two years of operating costs. This would hold us over until we could get a steady stream of funding.

A steady stream of funding…

As one of these eighteen, I knew I needed to bring something to the table. We had a talented group, so I had to offer something special, a skill that wasn’t represented but would help move the mission forward.  

I took a tremendous leap of faith and raised my hand—I signed myself up to lead the development effort.

There were sleepless nights and plenty of insecurity about my decision. You see friend, I had never raised a dollar in my life. What made me think I was qualified to build a sustainable annual plan?  

Well, I didn’t have experience, but I did have my dad in my back pocket—a respected fundraiser in our community. I saw his passion, the relationships built, and the genuine love for the organizations he served—I wanted in.

A seed was planted, and there was no turning back.

While my dad was never the type of leader to do the work for you, he was generous with his time and shared his knowledge freely. He challenged me.

He was tough because he believed in Family Hope Foundation—he was determined to see our mission succeed.  

We clocked endless hours. There was hard work, red pen, and tough love—for years. Eventually, I had the confidence to cut the cord. I had settled into my role as the unofficial “development director.” 

I loved the work—I still had so much to learn, but I was all in.

For seven years, the organization operated without staff. The board rolled up their sleeves and dug in. There was no shortage of grit.  

As we continued to grow, it became apparent that if we were going to be sustainable, it was time to invest in ourselves—we needed dedicated leadership.

In 2018, the Board offered me the opportunity to serve as the first executive director.  

I stepped out of my corporate career and into a role that would be another first for me. Once again, there was so much to learn, but we had a cohesive and supportive Board. We would turn this corner together and continue to grow stronger.

After 26 years, I embarked in earnest on a new career—one I longed for since I was a young girl.

Fast-forward to the here and now, and the organization operates with a two-person team and a dedicated working board. I have the pleasure of working with Madeline, our program coordinator, who is brimming with potential.  

We’re fortunate to have good scaffolding—our Board of Directors is talented and passionate about the families we serve. There is still an abundance of grit. There is also an abundance of trust.

We’re ready to peel back the curtains and make changes.  Good changes.

Our strategic plan is unfolding.

For the last two years, the organization has been planning, fundraising, and consulting with donors, colleagues, and organizations to ensure our future isn’t just as strong as our past—we’re working to ensure it’s stronger.

We’ve made our plan, and we’re ready to work our plan.

Central to our plan is GROWTH. 

With too much time spent in the weeds, we’re not reaching the growing number of families who need our help. We need an infrastructure that’s capable of supporting the mounting need.  

Our sustainability plan includes staffing changes to support mission growth:

  • Grow to a full-time executive director
  • A full-time program coordinator
  • Add a part-time development director

There is another piece of our plan that is critical.

We need new leadership.

I firmly believe the organization needs to recruit a new executive director. From the beginning, I’ve had my hand in a leadership role. It’s time for me to step aside.

The Board is in sync with me on this decision—it’s a smart move.

Fresh leadership is essential. Keeping a founder at the helm until they are ready to step away can compromise the stability of an organization. Avoiding this pitfall is a deliberate part of our strategic plan.

How do I feel about this change?

When I tentatively raised my hand over fourteen years ago, stepping into the role of “development director,”  I never anticipated the ways this would affect me. I can rattle off a few:

  • I’ve the opportunity to invite people into our mission.
  • I’ve built relationships that continue to grow stronger.
  • I work with families and tell their stories.

This, friend, only scratches the surface of why I love this work. I’m stepping down as our executive director, but heading in a direction that makes me happy.

In so many ways, I’ve come full circle. Yes, my cup overflows.

Stepping into the official role of part-time Development Director is exciting. I believe I’m moving into a position where I can serve Family Hope Foundation in the best capacity.  

But how will this work, some may ask?

I’m sure many of you have heard that founders and successors can be managerial oil and water—they don’t always mix. It’s a real thing— Founder’s Syndrome.

Among other toxic things, the founder refuses to make way for a new leader. They won’t allow a new leader to take the organization to the next level. They cling and control.

But there’s another way—the right way. 

The Board will deftly manage this transition. I’ll welcome our new executive director and give this person the space needed to lead. The transition will have open and supportive communication. 

This is our opportunity to strengthen the organization and secure its sustainability. We’re ready to do this, and the timing is perfect.

We’ve made our plan, and now we’re ready to work it—and we’d love to take you along for the ride.

We’ll grow stronger. 

The importance of our mission will continue to direct and inspire us as we make room for our new team. We have a solid plan, and the organization is committed—we’re all in.

The need isn’t going away…

And neither will we. 

Jane Eppard
Executive Director

Closing remarks from Family Hope Foundation’s Board

As a Board, we’re incredibly grateful for Jane and her ongoing leadership of the organization. We’re truly thankful that she will continue to lead our fund development efforts. In addition, we’re excited about the expansion of our team that will lead us now and position us for a strong future!

Matt Lepard
Board Chair

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