On the beautiful Saturday morning of November 7 the 2020 Encore!Connecticut class and their friends and family met virtually to celebrate the conclusion of eight months of training and fellowships. These twenty-seven corporate executives have taken their first steps to transitioning into the nonprofit sector.
Dr. David Garvey welcomed everyone via zoom including graduates, fellowship partners, presenters, friends and family members to this warm celebration. As Dave said, “as with all good things in a community, it cannot be done alone. Encore!Connecticut happens because of a community of partners.” He thanked the CT nonprofit leaders who volunteered their time and expertise to educate our graduates as well as AARP for their scholarship funding. He then introduced UConn Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Carl Lejuez.
Provost Lejuez loves how President Katsouleas’ three priorities for the University: doubling research, life transformative education, and UConn as an engine for the state of CT align with Encore’s goals. It is providing an opportunity for transformational education and impacts the CT nonprofit sector as a partner. The graduates of this program and the areas of expertise that they bring are great examples of what a university can do if they have the right North Star.
Our keynote speaker, Jason Jakubowski, President & CEO of CT Foodshare described Encore!Connecticut, in both principal and practice, as a beacon of the nonprofit community. The graduates all embody the principal that we all have something to give to society, to our communities. He emphasized to the graduates the importance of working on something that you are passionate about. The nonprofit culture is made up of people who are passionate about what they do. If things don’t work out for you, try something else until you find what fulfills you. Also, remember to reflect. Even on the most difficult days you can go home and know that you did something good for the world and your community. As you go forth, remember you are part of two important networks in CT; the nonprofit community and the UConn community who will always be there for you.
Charles E. Venter spoke as the representative for the graduating class and welcomed their guests to the celebration. He commented on how it’s not easy to start over but they all committed to 4 months of class, to 8 weeks of un-paid fellowship and to reading & studying …”to get a (nonprofit) job … because we decided that was what was right for us. To make a change in the world.” Then COVID happened, but the Encore program did not stop because of the pandemic. Everyone had to be flexible. Nonprofit fellowship hosts had sent proposals with specific projects in mind. They threw those proposals out and changed their priorities. Classes were rescheduled, presenters had to present on Zoom, and a 4-month program was stretched to eight months. This is a graduation, and we are here to celebrate what we did, but we are just getting started. We will be here to support each other and leverage technology and our skills moving forward. He closed out by thanking the Encore leadership team.
Bob Francis, Scott Wilderman and David Nee, Encore Co-Leads, congratulated the graduates. Bob commented that you never retire from the nonprofit sector. The purpose goes on. Scott compared this year’s class to Shackleton’s Endurance. “Difficulties are just something you have to overcome.” David Nee sited three pieces of advice; 1. The importance of self-care, 2. The importance of a support system and 3. And the importance of sharing with your family and keeping current.
The ceremony continued with the recognition of each graduate and a musical and personalized tribute. Congratulations to the Encore!Connecticut class of 2020!!!