It's hard to believe that I've been working at the same organization for 12 years. It's even harder to know when to say goodbye, but the time has finally come. Jona and I will be taking the next few months off, before making our next move. We're packing up our home, saying goodbye to our cats and heading off on a round-the-world trip in early September. Think of it as a sabbatical or a mid-career retirement.
These past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to look back on our time in California and feel nostalgic.
Jona and I met in Japan, and were married there in 2003. A few months later, we moved to Orange County and started building our life together, first in the OC, then Downtown LA and finally Ventura County. Occasionally, we have to pinch ourselves to realize that we actually live by the ocean in the midst of such beauty.
There is much for which I am grateful.
I joined the Hilton Humanitarian Prize team in 2005, managing the day-to-day operations, as well as organizing nominations and planning the annual gala. During my six years with the Prize, I was fortunate to learn about social issues close to my heart, working with outstanding people and nonprofit organizations, while trying to make the world a better place.
A few years ago, just as I was considering a career move, an opportunity arose at the Hilton Foundation, which eventually allowed me to lead our communications department. We started from scratch, building the brand, tailoring our messaging, strengthening our online presence, aligning the growing departments and speaking with one voice. Over time, we became more intentional about telling our stories and those of our partners. While the Hilton Foundation is not yet a household name, it is well on its way. One day, the Hilton family may be more famous for their philanthropy than for the hotels that bear their name.
On a personal level, I have been incredibly lucky that my work coincides with my interests. My favorite part of working in communications is the balance between art and science, between managing ideas and people, between thinking and doing. I will carry with me the memories and friendships forged over a dozen years, as well as priceless experiences and ideas for the future. In the meantime though, I look forward to a few months of travel and creative writing.
People often assume that nonprofit work is easy compared to the life of our counterparts in the business sector, but, in fact, we work far harder, with more passion and for far less pay. The downside to this glamorous existence is that we're not very good at taking care of ourselves and our loved ones, as our sense of purpose can be all-consuming. Sometimes, we have to step away from our day-to-day routines to remember just how lucky we are to have found our calling and to make that feeling last as long as possible.
While taking some well-deserved time off, Jona and I will share our experiences on our new travel site (mojonomads.com). We hope you will sign up for our monthly newsletter and follow our instagram account.
Thanks for your continuing friendship.