6. THE NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENT…
So I went to college and got the degrees and credentials I needed to do what mattered to me in the way I wanted to as well as in a way that would be good for my family. Usually people get the degree and then gain the experience. I got the experience and then went to school to get the degrees.
At 48 and 49 years old, my internships provided me good connections into the world of philanthropy. READ MORE…
I had such great serendipitous things happen to me such as being at the airport and running into the president of the largest foundation in the state. For some reason she asked me about myself then referred me to her VP so I could do my internship there. That was the beginning of my work in philanthropy and the realization of yet another dream.
Bachelor’s in Social Work (University of Alaska, Fairbanks 2012)
- Internship: Rasmuson Foundation; Grant-making and work with nonprofit applicants. Assessment of organization’s community impact. Research and support on various statewide collaborative efforts.
Master’s in Social Work (University of Alaska, Anchorage 2013)
- Internship: Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority; focus on policy, advocacy and social change. Social policy analyst and research practice. Grant review and program evaluation. Worked directly with legislature and grantees.
- Research: “What do LCSW’s in Alaska know about identifying and treating complicated grief?”
Just as graduation was upon me and I was looking for what I would now do with my education and experience, I was offered a position as an interim executive director for a small but long standing nonprofit in my very town of McCarthy, Alaska in the backcountry where I built my house. I was able to ride my bike to work and bring my dogs and live in the house we built in the woods. I could have stayed there forever but I did not want to lose sight of my desire to work in philanthropy and besides the kid was still in school in the city and my husband’s business was there.
Interim Executive Director; Wrangell Mountain Center (McCarthy, Alaska 2013)
- Oversaw operations, staff, fundraising and events for a rural based educational institution promoting learning through experiential interdisciplinary wilderness exploration.
- Provided organizational direction change through strategic planning and board training.
- THE PHILANTHROPIST…
Then it happened. I got a call from the foundation where I did my first internship and they offered me a ten-month contract working on a statewide initiative called Recover Alaska to reduce the negative impact of excessive alcohol consumption in the state. READ MORE…
The job was amazing. The work was phenomenal. Sitting with judges and commissioners and Native leaders and clinicians and supporting them to do their work was outstanding. The team at the foundation was one of the best fits I’ve ever worked with—smart and warm with high standards and the ability to bring about real change. I felt I had arrived. Following the 10 months it would be summer again and I could go back to McCarthy when school was out. The timing was perfect.
Program Associate; Rasmuson Foundation (Anchorage, Alaska 2013-2014)
- Support of statewide initiative to reduce negative impacts of excessive alcohol consumption.
- Lead staff for initiative’s evaluation planning.
- Worked with funders nationwide to manage partnerships around initiative funding.
- Grantmaking within small capital grant program, worked directly with grantees.
- Research and staff support to President and CEO in her role as Chair of the Alaska Children’s Trust.
- Proficient in GIFTS database.
The summer following the foundation contract, a position for a program officer opened up at the statewide community foundation. It was the very role I wanted. I applied and got it! It was my dream job. I loved the work. I liked the community foundation model so much and again I believed this job could be the one in the corporate city life I could wake up and love going to everyday. I was working with community groups and nonprofits through grantmaking programs. I was connecting donors to things they cared about and finding funding that would make a difference in the state that I lived.
Program Officer of Grants and Programs; The Alaska Community Foundation (Anchorage, Alaska 2014-2015)
- Oversaw strategic, competitive and donor advised grant-making. Management of policy, programming and budgets for grant programs. Supervision of program staff.
- Proposal review and recommendation to committees and board of directors.
- Worked closely with grantees to assist with their success in achieving key objectives.
- Managed portfolio of fiscal sponsorships, working closely with community partners through various
program focus areas including suicide prevention, prevention of child abuse and capacity building.
- Managed national, local and state grants supporting Foundation’s initiatives.
- Represented Foundation through presentations to nonprofits and prospective funders.
- Proficient in FIMS database and Foundant online grant-making system.
- REESTABLISHING MY ROOTS…
It had been more than a decade now of living in the city and spending less time with family back east or time in my house in the woods. I was expressing my lost feeling to a friend back east and my love of my work but my desire to be more connected to place and roots. Three days later I got a call from the new president of my old ski school saying, “Are you really considering coming back home?” READ MORE…
I hadn’t really considered it. Moving a family across the country is a huge undertaking. I realized I was losing my footing because I actually heard myself say it was unattainable and remember I was a kid who never considered something I wanted as unattainable. I broached the subject with my boys and to my surprise they weren’t against it at all. We started exploring the options and things started falling into place—as they often do when things are as hey are meant to be.
Coincidentally, my current organization was entering a state of transition and it was a good time to make the change from that angle. I started exploring work in philanthropy in the northeast. Something wasn’t sitting right with me as I applied and interviewed for different jobs. Nothing was sparking me like I need to be sparked. I then recalled my wise mother—the one who asked me what I want to do when I get up in the morning—saying you should be a professional coach. I also recalled the professional coach I had when at my last job telling me I was a natural coach. I called him and we talked about what that might look like.
In the meantime, and just to be sure I wasn’t missing my calling as a clinical social worker, I tried my hand at therapy.
Interim Clinical Therapist; North Star Behavioral Health Hospital (Anchorage, Alaska 2016)
- Oversaw residential care unit for at-risk teen girls providing individual, group and family therapy.
- Performed psychological-social assessments and created treatment plans that drove overall care.
I liked it a lot. I loved the clients and the families I worked with but the for-profit, regulated environment was not for me. I learned a lot about a different form of helping people and I know the therapeutic skills I learned will transfer, as will each of the skills I’ve gained over the years, to my new niche. I made some great friends and I clarified for myself that I needed to find my own niche again. I started to feel it—coaching was calling me. After all, my roots are as a coach, on skis.
- Coming Full Circle
After being fortunate to realize my dreams again and again in all these ways, I recognized I was heading off balance from my core needs of simplicity and openness. If I was going to be honest with myself I had to admit that the full time city business world was not allowing me to be true to myself and be exactly who I am. One of my mentors told me if I feel off balance it’s because I may be in an environment where I am not able to be myself. The call from my old ski school and the connection to being a coach really started to stir me and I was starting to feel that spark rekindle. READ MORE…
I never could have learned what I did without the experiences but I couldn’t succeed as me if I didn’t find the environment that worked for me.
I knew a few things about myself for certain: I like being a generalist and continuing to learn about new things; I am really good at assessing a situation and providing feedback; and I am good at leading. I decided to start my own business and tailor my services to the things I enjoy doing the most because those are the ones I am best at. Using each of the skills, training and experiences I have gained over the years, I combined my nonprofit, business and clinical skills with my coaching skills and personal experiences and signed up for a certification in best executive coaching services. The entire coarse I was saying, “this is it!”
Certified Executive Coach (Center for Coaching Certification March 2016)
- Professional coach certification in whole person perspective and area specific such as career, finances, relationships and other areas as identified by the client.
I plan to continue on to the Master coach level and get accredited with the International Coaching Federation as soon as the house is sold and we move and settle in. In the mean time, I have started my own business
Emily Bass Strategies
Organizational Development and Executive Coaching
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So here I am, back where I began. I have the same values and dreams as I always have and am motivated by the same things. The only difference is, I am officially qualified and have twenty more years’ of experience under my belt to help an organization such as my old ski school do more of what it wants to do and do it well. I can go back to being the coach I always have been but now I will do it in the business word where people need to be reminded to stay true to themselves.
Following my gut seems to be bringing me closer to family as they get married, have babies, age and need company. It is a great opportunity for my son to expand beyond Alaska and find his niche and experience the larger world as he embarks on his high school journey. It allows my husband to reach beyond his comfort zone and discover new passions or revive old ones as well. We will have our home in the woods in Alaska anytime we want it and I do believe we will be able to combine our lives and our work between Alaska and New Hampshire for the ultimate dream come true. Why not?
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