- Tod Marvin
- Easterseals Central Texas
- Years as Executive Director
- 7 years
- What does your organization do?
- Easterseals Central Texas provides supports and services to people with disabilities of all ages in Central Texas so that they can lead independent lives. Last year, we served nearly 16,000 people with disabilities and their family members in Central Texas through employment, housing, veterans services, rehabilitative therapy services, audiology services, paid job training programs, accessible technology programs, and through our LIFE Center, which is a free fitness center for anyone with a disability. This is Easterseals’ 89th year of operation in Central Texas.
- How did you become interested in this work?
- This is my 26th year in nonprofit work. Easterseals has been an incredibly fun and meaningful experience for me. Walking alongside people with disabilities on their path to independence and seeing the obstacles they overcome every day inspires me and makes whatever issue I might be dealing with seem pretty miniscule.
- What drives your passion?
- Believing I made some small difference for someone in need. Fortunately for me, my commitment to the social service sector seems to grow the longer I’m doing the work. At this point, it doesn’t even really feel like work anymore. Because it’s not just “something I do”, it’s how I define myself as a person.
- Did you have a mentor or role model?
- Early in my career I had the opportunity to work for the Red Cross at their Headquarters in D.C. as the Senior Operating Officer of their National Development Department. My boss was a lady named Jennifer Dunlap, their Chief Development Officer. I am who I am today because of Jennifer. She believed in me way more than I believed in myself. She made me think I could do or be anything, which most assuredly wasn’t true based on my skill set. But she forced me to look beyond my limitations and see opportunity. And she had an infectious energy that inspired everyone around her. I would’ve run through a brick wall for Jennifer if she needed me to. And I’d still happily do it today if she asked me to. I’ve aspired throughout my professional career to try and be Jennifer to the people I’ve had the privilege of working with.
- What's the biggest challenge in your work?
- I don’t’ see challenges I see opportunities. And there are terrific opportunities for Easterseals and the social service sector as a whole to grow and be more to the people we serve in this community. We just have to think differently, be bold, and take more risks. Traditional nonprofit thinking is the biggest force holding us back from not just serving problems, but to actually SOLVE problems. But because funding is tight, boards are a bear to manage, managing people is infuriating, competition is tough, etc., we lose faith over time that we can drive meaningful change. The more we free ourselves from these negative nonprofit thought boxes, the more joy we derive from our work and we begin to realize our true purpose, which is to be a collective force for change for people in need. It’s why I think it’s so important for me to stay involved in One Voice. Because it re-focuses me away from the day-to-day junk that drags me down over time, and reminds me what my true purpose is, and why I wanted to pursue this career in the first place.
- What's the best advice that you have ever received?
- If it’s not fun, why do it?
- What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?
- a. Have fun.
b. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
c. Join One Voice and get involved. It’s the best support group in town!
d. Sign your organization up for the One Voice 403b program (shameless plug).