November 29, 2018

Lifecycle of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

By Rusty Stahl, President & CEO, Fund the People

The other day, my Fund the People co-conspirator Yolanda Caldera-Durant and I took a break from co-working to enjoy a lunch of soup and sandwiches at a cozy Panera Bread in suburban Connecticut (it is at the midway point between where we each live and work). Yolanda’s phone buzzed. “I need to take this.” It was a doctor’s office — luckily nothing urgent, just confirming some logistics for a medical appointment for her father. After the call, we talked about the demands Yolanda faces as a family caregiver of her aging father, who has two chronic illnesses.

An hour later, as we prepared to take our leave of that fine dining establishment, Yolanda wished me all the best. This would be the last time we would co-work before my wife gives birth to our second child in about a week or so! And I’ll be taking off all of December and the first half of January for paternity leave, and probably take more time in March when my wife, Sarah, starts back at her work.

It struck me the next day that despite the stark differences between caring for one’s parent and becoming a parent, we are both experiencing major life-cycle processes at the personal and family levels. As a result, we both need job flexibility and time away from work to care for our family members and ourselves. This is nothing particularly revelatory in the abstract, but is very real when any of us are going through it.

The policies, practices, and attitudes of our organizations as they relate to matters of flexible hours and paid family leave have a major impact on how well we can care for our emerging, aging, and/or sick loved ones. And this impacts our own workload management, job performance, well-being, and sense of personal agency. That’s why I have adopted a management style that respects the needs of employees to manage personal commitments. I believe it helps our team members to do our best work and sustain our commitments to our mission.

Beyond our team, of course, Fund the People advocates for philanthropic investment in progressive, employee-friendly policies and practices at grantee nonprofit organizations. Contributing to the healthy life-cycles of employees contributes to the healthy life-cycles of our organizations. And the social sector deserves the financial resources it takes to build healthy organizational cultures, and to maintain the well-being of those who ensure the well-being of our communities.

As I prepare for a major life-cycle moment in my family, I wish everyone in the Fund the People family all the best as we bring light to dark times through Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and the birth of a New Year!

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