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Helping CIANA Grow: An Interview with Derek Sam, CIANA Board Secretary

CIANA’s newest Board Member, Derek Sam, has been part of the CIANA team for several months now. In addition to helping CIANA behind-the-scenes as a Board member, he also was a volunteer tutor for our elementary school students before schools closed, and helped promote our #GivingTuesdayNow campaign. Derek is now CIANA’s Board Secretary. Read more about his experience at CIANA so far:

How long have you been a member of CIANA’s Board of Directors?

I joined the board of CIANA at the beginning of 2020.

How did you first hear about CIANA and what made you want to join our Board?

I came across CIANA while doing research on various non-profit groups. There are many great non-profit organizations supporting valuable causes, but the mission of CIANA resonated with me. As a relatively “new American” myself, I liked the idea of supporting people transitioning to a new culture and way of living.

Having volunteered with a number of organizations in the past, the idea of contributing to the organizational strategy as a board member was appealing to me. Supporting a locally-based organization would give me the chance to have a real impact.

How does your professional career tie into your role as a Board member at CIANA?

Working with different teams and representing the organization on the board has allowed me to develop my leadership skills and challenged me to think strategically. Another positive has been the chance to work with an amazing, diverse group of people from different backgrounds. Diversity encourages openness and free thought and given the ever-increasing focus on diversity within corporations, this has been a big positive.

What has your experience been like at CIANA so far as a Board member? What challenges have you faced?

I've enjoyed working with the team and getting to know the others on the board, fundraising and discussing strategies for the future of CIANA. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for the organization as a whole and everyone has had to adapt to a new normal. I’m proud that CIANA has continued to find ways to support our community in a challenging environment.

What inspired you to get involved with our tutoring program (schools closed)?

Tutoring was a great way to learn about the organization early on and to contribute directly to CIANA. Seeing how the organization functions from the ground up was both insightful and enjoyable. The interaction and engagement with the students has been great and I've been able to learn from many of them!

Derek working with one of our tutoring students.

In what other ways have you helped CIANA, and what are some ways you might want to support CIANA going forward?

Developing and implementing new creative fundraising initiatives and building our current donor base, are key areas of focus. I'll also continue to work with the team and fellow board members to grow and shape CIANA for the future.

What has been a meaningful experience/interaction/incident you have had as a board member and/or tutor?

I’ve enjoyed contributing to the giving campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic and sharing the message of CIANA. It has been great to see everyone come together during this challenging time, not only within CIANA but also within our extended community. All the collaboration and support gives me confidence that we’re going to come out of this period stronger than before!

Thank you, Derek!


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