Jill Johnson, 32, dedicates about 40 hours a month to charitable organizations including the American Heart Association, the Community Partnership for Child Development, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Freedom Foundation. And, that is not even her day job. Johnson is vice president of the wealth management unit of the Corundum Group, which is a division of Central Bancorp, where she manages strategic growth and client relations initiatives and manages accounts. She sought out local organizations where should could volunteer and says giving back to the community is something she doesn’t take lightly.”I really value the time I spend serving non-profit organizations,” she said. “I have met some of the most wonderful people through my time volunteering, and many have become friends, mentors/mentees and business contacts.” She has chaired the Go Red for Women event and luncheon for the past four years, is on the CPCD board of directors and helps plan the Zoo Ball. She took some time to talk to the CSBJ about what it means to volunteer in the community.
You are involved in a number of charitable organizations. How did you get involved?
I am not from Colorado Springs, so when I began working here I wanted to get to know the community and to contribute to it beyond the scope of my career. I began talking with my colleagues about the non-profit organizations they were familiar with and quickly discovered several that were seeking volunteers. Once I began volunteering, I was exposed more and more to the tremendous amount of quality organizations in town, which gave me a great opportunity to get involved with the causes and organizations that lined up best with my passions and skills.
Was it difficult to get involved with organizations? What advice would you give other young professionals about volunteering in their community?
It isn’t difficult to get involved locally — especially for young professionals. Many non-profits are anxious to bring “new blood” into the mix of people impacting their work. Volunteers are often fiercely loyal once they find a worthy cause, so many of them have been involved for years. Having a fresh take and a younger representative aboard is something I’ve found many non-profits embrace. Colorado Springs seems to have a disproportionate number of solid non-profit organizations, so as you begin to dip your toes in, be thinking about where you really want to give your time. What do you personally care about? And then ask around and search for non-profits that match up and check them out. If you are going to volunteer, be sure you are making it count. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions of the leadership of the organization you are considering getting involved with, take the time and be proactive in finding a good fit (or a few good fits!)
How do you balance your 9 to 5 with the hours it takes to help charitable organizations?
Finding balance can be a challenge. I’m fortunate to work for a company that is extremely supportive of its employees being involved in the community. As with any professional, my job is demanding, so in order to perform here and stay involved with the charities I serve, I don’t have many 9 to 5 days. But, to me, it’s so worth it. I believe if you are going to volunteer, then it’s important to step back and seriously evaluate what you are able to effectively handle and really commit to. Volunteer in a way that allows you to give your all. One lesson I’ve learned the hard way is that sometimes it’s best to decline a volunteer opportunity so you can focus on your existing commitments.
Why do you think it is important for young professionals to volunteer in their community?
I feel a desire in my generation to get involved by giving back. Serving in your community, in whichever capacity you choose to do so, helps you get outside of yourself to see a much bigger world. From a pure humanitarian perspective, there is a lot to do. One thing that always strikes me is the endless nature of charitable work; there are so many great causes that are constantly looking for support. Volunteering offers an opportunity to broaden your mindset from a business perspective too. Interacting with non-profits and their other volunteers can expose you to other ways to doing things and ways of thinking that you may not see at your firm. I have absorbed many applicable ideas and skills from my time on the CPCD board and from the numerous events I have been involved with. Plus, I’ve found friends, mentors and great contacts through my volunteer work and that have been invaluable.