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Jennifer Oldham

Program and Communications Officer at The Healing Trust

Best career advice you ever got?

You deserve a seat at every table you’re invited to. Act like it.

Favorite thing about your job?

I love the work culture. Our foundation really emphasizes self-care and work-life blend. We’re encouraged to take time off, are not expected to answer emails after hours, and are able to modify our schedules to go work out, take care of family, and work off site. We also offer 12 weeks of paid parental leave and up to 15 days paid bereavement leave. A culture like that is hard to find.

If you weren’t doing this, what job would you have?

I really love the communications field and I can’t currently imagine working in a different field. I would still be doing communications-related work, but on a full-time basis.

What’s something work-related that keeps you up at night?

I am very concerned about the lack of racial diversity that exists in nonprofits and at foundations. Representation matters, and both sectors continue to miss the perspectives and skills of a growing segment of our population. Staff and boards should be representative of the people they serve, and we need to be intentional about including those voices. The Healing Trust designates one of its internship spots for a student of color, but unfortunately most organizations don’t provide that type of opportunity.

Most memorable Communications Network experience?

My very first ComNet conference in Detroit. I remember attending sessions and meeting new people on the first day and thinking, “I’ve found my people.” It was the first time that I’d been with other foundation communications professionals, and I felt like we were speaking the same language.

Your most overused word or phrase?

We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Best thing you’ve read/watched/listened to recently?

Read: The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

Watched: Black Panther, I saw it twice in 3D.

Listened to: episode 23 of the Levar Burton Reads podcast “A Fable With Slips of White Paper Spilling from the Pockets by Kevin Brockmeier.”

Guilty pleasure?

Eating Haribo gummi bears.

How do you define success?

Achieving a goal that I’ve set for myself.

Most important thing you’ve learned in the last five years?

Understanding what it means to be an introvert. Over the last five years, I’ve read a growing body of resources about introversion and that knowledge has been life changing for me. I’m not shy, but I re-energize by being alone, and that self-awareness influences the way I organize my day, the way I participate in conferences, and the way I parent.

What are you most interested in learning from your colleagues in The Network — and what could folks learn from you?

I want to learn more about the structure and roles of larger communications team. I also want to learn more about psychographics and framing public policy issues. I operate as a one-person communications team, and I can teach others how to do good work with a small staff.

How has The Network been helpful to your work/your career? And why?

The Network has helped my career by giving me the platform to share knowledge and gain knowledge from others. Over the course of my membership, I led a breakout session, wrote an award-winning article for The Network’s website, and founded The Lone Wolves group (for small communications teams) in its members’ community. I continue to learn so much from its resources in the newsletter, the webinars, and from the experience of others in the members’ community.

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