Monday Morning Meet Your Leaders – Jodi Grinwald

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Meet Jodi Grinwald, CEO of Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation! Jodi is this week’s featured #MondayMorningMeetYourLeader! Learn how Jodi navigates the 6 C’s of nonprofit Sea Change, how she got into the nonprofit world and what she does for fun at the Central Jersey Shore!

How do you navigate the 6 “C”s of Nonprofit Sea Change? (Capacity, Curiosity, Conversation, Collaboration, Creativity, and Compassion)

The Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation has been building capacity for over the last four years. We know how important it is for us to continue to share the stories and show the faces of those who are positively impacted by our programming. We have found that people are extremely curious when we tell them that we fund children to take ongoing performing arts lessons for up to now 15 years. The model is different, so they are curious to learn more. At the end of the school year, the children from across the region that we have funded for their performing arts lessons come together to showcase what they have learned.

From the beginning we knew the true importance of collaborative work in the non-profit sector, or as I like to call it, the for-impact sector. Early on we had reached out to two non-profit organizations that we knew did not do the work that we did. After further conversations between us, it was clear that we could be an additional resource to their clients, and they could be the same to ours. That work continues as we have found ongoing partnerships in the community to be so vital.

Creativity is an important part of all that we do. We started the Zzak G. AOK Performance Group only a few months after we launched the foundation. This audition only kids helping kids group is a collection of youth volunteers ages 7-22 who showcase their performing arts talents in service of the foundation’s mission. The group is invited to attend and perform at other local non-profit and for-profit events as well throughout the year. In doing so, these performers bring entertainment and inspiration to the community. At Foundation events they perform to raise funds for their peers being funded through our programming. Financial barriers should not limit creative expression.

When did you realize you wanted to work in the nonprofit world? Tell us about this journey.

The non-profit world found me. I was working in the for-profit sector for years in both NYC and NJ and was not feeling fulfilled. I put my resume out on Monster.com back in 2005. The American Heart Association saw my resume and the rest is history. I was the one staff person with no non-profit experience, but they saw that I had a lot of business development experience and thought it was a good fit for an initial interview. I will always be grateful to the three people who sat in on my third and final interview there and hired me. It is because of them I have been on this journey. It truly goes to show how one decision along your path, can change your entire direction.

What’s your favorite fun activity to do at the Central Jersey Shore?

My favorite fun activity is to watch sunrises on the beach and sunsets at Island Heights. I do not see too many sunrises in a year, but I do get the joy of watching many sunsets.

How do you practice self-care/stress relief?

In regards to self-care, it is newer for me as I spent so many years focusing on family and my career. I am learning about the need for more time for a self-care practice. Some of my favorite stress relief activities include: meditation – which I thought I would never be able to do, to writing, reading, dancing and painting. Just to be clear though, my version of painting is limited to difficult paint by number masterpieces.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

I have many favorite inspirational quotes from many different people. The quotes that stand out to me the most are from my Dad. He always said: “The best gift you can give someone is your time and life is about conversation, a hug, and showing up.” It speaks to the importance of connection.

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