Donna Cates of Becoming Independent wins a North Bay Business Journal Nonprofit Leadership Award


The BI workers rapidly pivoted, creating a sturdy set of digital helps together with all the pieces from Zoom e-book golf equipment and dance events to cooking courses and mutual help teams. In help of our fiscal well being, we did a deep dive into how finest to make the most of current workers in a manner that would offer the perfect help in probably the most environment friendly method, which at instances meant departments working extra collaboratively than ever earlier than.

What achievements are you most happy with?

Throughout my time as BI’s board president, I’m most happy with the way in which the group has proven not simply resiliency, however a cussed refusal to simply accept mediocrity. Even within the midst of nice adversity, we not solely survive, however we emerge from the storm stronger than ever.

What’s your greatest problem in the present day?

Our greatest problem in the present day is to make sure that throughout this time of isolation, the folks we serve stay related to BI, to one another, and to their group

As soon as the digital helps had been created by workers, it grew to become evident that lack of entry to dependable know-how was a barrier. Now, we’re in the course of a marketing campaign to boost the funds wanted as a way to make sure that each shoppers and workers have the instruments they should successfully adapt to this new day.

We’re dedicated to making sure that not one of the folks we serve are left at nighttime, and that everybody maintains their sense of belonging, particularly in these unsure instances.

What’s the subsequent main venture both below manner or on the horizon?

Our subsequent main venture is to redevelop our South Campus constructing.

BI has at all times understood that as instances change, we should be within the forefront of the motion. Now, all the pieces has modified, and so, as soon as once more, we won’t solely adapt, however we are going to innovate.

Our South Campus constructing labored properly for us pre-COVID, and as we put together to as soon as once more present face-to-face companies, we’re energized to remodel the constructing into an area that works safely, effectively, and particularly for the good thing about the folks we serve. What a option to welcome everybody dwelling!

What services or products would/or helps you do your job extra successfully?

One phrase: Expertise. When in-person companies needed to be suspended in mid-March on account of COVID-19, workers met the second by creating a variety of digital helps.

A divide rapidly grew to become evident between those that have their very own know-how and people who don’t. Our 2020 Expertise Marketing campaign is now in full swing, with a objective of elevating $500,000 by the tip of the 12 months to make sure that everybody can purchase dependable know-how as a way to entry all the social and academic choices which have been created.

We don’t want anybody to undergo from being remoted and never have entry to social interactions the place they will thrive.

How do you assume your occupation will change within the subsequent 5 years?

I consider the digital courses will proceed to be an essential a part of our applications. We now have confirmed it may be finished efficiently and most of the contributors have expressed their need to proceed with some digital courses even when in-person companies resume.

In step with present finest practices within the area, BI will proceed to transition away from congregate settings and towards larger community-based helps. We now have discovered our shoppers thrive with extra publicity to the group and all it has to supply. Being in the neighborhood, interacting with the general public and having the chance to do “what everybody else can do” is a need for a lot of of our shoppers.

Describe a fond reminiscence you’ve about working with workers/consumer: Yearly, we’ve the BI Olympics. This offers each participant, no matter their talents, the chance to enter sporting classes they wish to compete in. There are roughly 10 occasions like: flag soccer, relay races, sprints, ring toss, ladder ball, and many others., which are modified, if wanted, so everybody can take part.

The board members are invited to cheer the athletes on and to additionally award the medals (gold, silver, bronze) to every of the winners.

That is my favourite occasion. The shoppers are so excited to have the ability to take part within the occasions; they cheer one another on and everybody needs to win, however they’re so gracious and congratulatory to the winners when they don’t win themselves.

It’s so spectacular to see this stage of optimistic sportsmanship from everybody. And it’s really heartwarming to see absolutely the jubilation when the winners come as much as obtain their medals and need to shake my hand or give me a hug. I completely love this interplay with the contributors.

What different group involvement would you want folks to learn about?

I’m a member of the Impression 100 Redwood Circle in Santa Rosa, which is a giving circle of ladies of all ages and backgrounds who’re enthusiastic about making our group a greater place. We work collectively to encourage each other to find out about philanthropy, to provide again, and to volunteer. We consider that collectively we will really make an impression.


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