- Mary Dickerson
- Executive Director
- Th Austin Center for Grief & Loss
- Years as Executive Director
- Since April 2017
- What does your organization do?
- The Austin Center for Grief & Loss is a bereavement center serving children and adults who are experiencing grief or loss due to a death (including pregnancy loss and suicide), divorce, or other life altering event. We have professional therapists who specialize in grief and loss, along with peer support groups for specific types of loss.
- How did you become interested in this work?
- I am interested in this work because I have a nephew who was shaken by his nanny when he was 4 months old. He is now 21 but so severely disabled from this traumatic injury that he is not able to live independently. This 10 second act of violence set my entire family on a different trajectory. At age 45 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had elementary aged children and was traumatized by the thought of not seeing them grow up.
- What drives your passion?
- My passion is driven by a desire to see the Center thrive and for the clients we serve to have a place where they are able to experience compassionate care as they move through their grief process in their own unique way and at their own pace.
- Did you have a mentor or role model?
- My first degree out of college was in accounting. I became licensed as a CPA and was working for Arthur Andersen in Atlanta, Ga. Several women just slightly older than I was were willing to "show me the ropes". There were no women partners in the Atlanta office which was the 4th largest in the US at that time, so we helped each other. I have tried to help both men and women throughout my career. Sometimes seemingly simple advice can be transformative.
- What's the biggest challenge in your work?
- The biggest challenge in my work is fundraising. Grief is not glamorous, doesn't have 4 paws, and is not usually understood until personally experienced.
- What's the best advice that you have ever received?
- The best advice I have received is to treat others the way I want to be treated--or treat them even better.
- What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?
- I'm a new executive director myself, but what has worked for me is to:
1. Ask questions because there is more I don't know than I do know;
2. Surround myself with team players;
3. Thank my team often because our success is a team effort.