As a business our focus is not only on supporting our clients and partners achieve their goals, it’s also on supporting our community and the people around us achieve theirs. Whether its participating as a board member of Girls Inc. or volunteering at the Child Creativity Lab, we are passionate about making a positive and last impact wherever we can. Through these efforts we often meet others within our local community who share the same values and philanthropic spirit. This month our Thought Leader Spotlight shines on one such individual who has established a career helping support the growth and development of teenage boys and girls around the world. Through her work with the Arbonne Charitable Foundation, she has touched countless lives by awarding grants and organizing fundraising opportunities to empower future generations. It’s our privilege and pleasure to introduce our September 2018 Thought Leader Spotlight: Courtney Janes.
Was finding a philanthropic career always a goal of yours? Or was it a path that revealed itself along the way?
Since I can remember I’ve always truly enjoyed giving back and helping others. I was in junior high when I started volunteering and being actively engaged in the community. I have such wonderful memories of these experiences, whether it be the countless hours I spent organizing projects, reading books and enjoying conversations with people at the senior citizen center, helping put on birthday parties for kids at Olive Crest, or a life-changing encounter I had with a five-year-old girl named Angel at Orangewood Children’s Home, these moments had a lasting and indelible impact in shaping me into the person I am today. It feels natural to have a career focused on making a positive impact in the world; it’s what fuels me. It’s my profession and my passion.
What life experience(s) do you feel best prepared you for a leadership position?
I got my first “official” job at age 15, working in a toy store, and then a movie theater. Over time in various jobs, I came to realize that true leadership isn’t always about a person’s seniority or position. This reminds me of a quote by John Maxwell, “Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others”. The most impactful leaders I’ve worked with have empowered me to be the best version of myself, to build my confidence in my abilities, and to support my professional growth. Leaders are made over time and are shaped by professional and personal experiences. I continually ask myself how I can learn from my experiences and use my successes, and failures, to grow and develop to not only better myself but to empower those around me.
Who had the biggest impact on you throughout your professional development?
John Janes had a huge influence on my professional development; full disclosure, he’s my dad. Of course, there’s the desire to make our parents proud, but my father is someone I truly admire, not only for the man he was as a dad but for the man he was as leader, business associate, and friend. I have so much respect for his work ethic; it’s something I’ve always tried to emulate. I admire the way he managed his business in times of prosperity and times of struggle. He always treated others with respect and kindness, regardless of who they were and what they could do for him, and this left a profound impression on me and it taught me an invaluable lesson about the measure of a person. He seemed to always know when to give me guidance and when I needed to go it alone. Although my father is no longer with us, I often think about what he’d say or do. I wish he could see where my career has taken me; in whatever I do I always strive to make him proud and know in my heart he would be.
It must be challenging to manage the volume of fundraising and grant requests pouring in on a regular basis. How involved are you with the application review process? What are some of the key challenges when deciding which applications to approve?
Grant season, as I like to call it, comes twice a year and it’s a very busy time in my world. I’m fortunate to have an amazing team member who organizes all the grants for me to review. During each cycle, we have grants coming in from four countries, and to give you an idea of volume, between the two cycles, we had a total of 260 grants submitted to the Foundation in 2017. I read each of the grants and the accompanying documentation and then write my personal feedback about each grant and submit all of this to our board members in each country. It’s a long and involved process, but each approved grant will fund a program that empowers our youth to dream big, live confidently and believe that “change starts with me,” which is the Foundation motto. The ever-present challenge when it comes to grants is making sure that we’re maximizing our fundraising so that we can fund as many grants as possible.
What has been your proudest achievement as Executive Director of Arbonne Charitable Foundation?
Establishing and growing the Arbonne Charitable Foundation in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom has been a true labor of love. Because of this, the Foundation has positively impacted the lives of more than 340,000 teenage boys and girls in these countries in just six years.
Looking forward to 2019, are there any Arbonne Charitable Foundation initiatives or projects that have you particularly excited?
We plan to launch the Arbonne Charitable Foundation in New Zealand in 2019. I’ve been working on this for over a year now and am excited to see the hard work of everyone involved come to fruition.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to find a career within a charitable organization?
I’d recommend volunteering or interning with different organizations, not only in the field but in their offices, to get a sense for the culture within a non-profit. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to people working in your field of interest to talk to them about their experiences. There are many different directions your career can take in the non-profit sector and having an idea of what is best suited for you early on will benefit you in the long run.
What is your favorite quote?
This is a quote from my one of my personal heroes, a woman who continues to inspire me every day, Maya Angelou.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”