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Contributing Author
3 min
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How to Inspire Yourself This Year

This is a guest blog by HyeSook Chung, the executive director of DC Action for Children. HyeSook spoke at the 2014 Collaborative and her organization was selected as a 2014 Classy Awards Nominee. This year, HyeSook joins us on the esteemed Leadership Council, voting alongside other industry leaders to determine the final 10 Classy Award Winners.

Dear members of the social sector,

Just like you, I am defined by many things—a mom, a wife, a co-worker, a student, an advocate for social change.

The causes that I am passionate about are early education and children. My organization, DC Action for Children, has become the primary source of data on conditions and outcomes for children in Washington, DC.

Like so many nonprofit leaders, my team and I have been challenged to find sufficient staffing, board resources, sustainable funding, and reliable partners. We had a particularly tough time in 2014—the foundation landscape was shifting and we lost four critical funders.

That’s why when the opportunity to attend the Collaborative + Classy Awards presented itself, it was both an honor, and a major uncertainty. DC Action was selected as a Classy Awards Finalist and I was asked to speak at the Collaborative.

But could I really take the time to travel for three days when things felt like they were falling apart? I took a leap of faith. I needed to re-energize.

Sometimes the greatest gifts come in the most unexpected ways. This is what the Collaborative gave to me. I was able to network with truly innovative leaders from across the nation, build meaningful connections, and learn best practices from organizations addressing problems so different from mine, but surprisingly relevant to my work. It turned out that all of us were trying to adapt to a changing foundation landscape—I was finally in a room full of people who understood this challenge and could offer sound advice.

The first session at the 2014 Collaborative. The room was alive!
The first session at the 2014 Collaborative—the energy in the room was contagious.

In the midst of our daily grind, we can forget the progress we are making. But when our organization was recognized for its innovation and creativity, the risks I had been taking felt like they were finally yielding some results.

It turned out that all of us were trying to adapt to a changing foundation landscape. I was finally in a room full of people who understood this challenge and could offer sound advice.

This year, Classy asked me to participate in the Collaborative + Classy Awards as a Leadership Council member. I was humbled beyond belief. I’m just an executive director trying to impact DC children, hoping that I can work with integrity and grit like so many of you. But this year, there were no second thoughts about whether I would attend—my previous involvement had sparked and fueled me in a way that other learning communities had not.

My talk at the 2014 Collaborative
I spoke about our partnership with DataKind at the 2014 Collaborative.

The Collaborative is a thriving community of social good leaders, just like me and just like you.

As 2016 picks up momentum, my question for you is this—how are you going to fuel your need to adapt and innovate beyond your wildest dreams? Find me at the Collaborative, and let’s talk.

Hope to see you in June.

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HyeSook Chung
Executive Director
DC Action for Children


Image Credit: DC Action for Kids / Brian Rayford

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