Member Spotlight: Suzie Bechtol

Suzie Bechtol

Development Manager at 2-1-1 San Diego

"Getting involved with YNPN is one of the best decisions I have ever made - it absolutely helped my career development and I met people that continue to inspire and help me today."

What made you decide to join YNPN San Diego?

I joined YNPN because I really wanted a career in nonprofits but had no idea where to start. I graduated with my MA in History in 2010, the height of the recession, and there were very few employment opportunities available. So I got a job as a Receptionist at a real estate development firm. In addition to my daily tasks, the owner involved me in his personal philanthropy, serving as his liaison to manage his donations and the reporting with the various nonprofits he supported. I quickly realized the few hours a week I was spending doing this were the best working hours of my week, so I decided that was absolutely the career I wanted.

I attended my first YNPN networking event and was blown away by the passion and drive all of these folks had. I had assumed everyone my age was stuck in the same employment rut - I was mistaken. The people I met that night were all incredibly happy and proud of their work and I wanted that! So I joined the YNPN Social Committee. I then became the Chair of the Social Committee and then eventually joined the YNPN board.

Getting involved with YNPN is one of the best decisions I have ever made - it absolutely helped my career development and I met people that continue to inspire and help me today.  

How has your YNPN San Diego board service impacted your career?

I would not have a career in nonprofits without my YNPN board service. It was my involvement with YNPN that I learned about the job opportunity at 2-1-1 San Diego. I was provided some great organizational insight by members of the YNPN board and I was told, after I was hired, that having YNPN on my resume provided me a great "leg up" during the hiring process. Now that I work at a nonprofit, I continue to tap into my YNPN base for help with various things such as grant writing tips, grant partnership opportunities, etc.

What is one of your top values? How does it play a role in your personal and/or professional life?

My top value is making a positive impact in what I do - both personally and professionally. That impact does not need to be big - some days it is just making someone smile while others it is procuring a large grant that will help my organization continue to serve people in the community. 

At the end of the day, we are all just trying to navigate this crazy thing called life and, especially now during COVID-19, we have the time to reflect and really determine what our mark is in this world - take away all the craziness that life has (the commuting, the meetings, the social gatherings, etc) and take it down to the bare necessities - what makes you happy and how can you spread that happiness or joy or positivity to others. 

This is all a bit sappy, which we can blame on the COVID-19 as well, but I do think this is the right time to look inward and assess our values and determine if we have been following them and if not, how can we change that. I think this can be done at the individual level, the organizational level and so on.

What was the most beneficial experience you had as a YNPN San Diego member?

I truly appreciated the autonomy I had as a Board member and then Board leader as Vice-Chair. YNPNers are typically emerging leaders and often that means taking a lot of direction and very rarely having the opportunity to manage or lead. YNPN provided this opportunity and it was fantastic. You were able to see just how hard it is to lead others (a good lesson for when you have frustrations with your superiors...they are people too) but also gives you the confidence to assert yourself in your daily work.

What is a career aspiration you have?

I would like to serve as the head of a fundraising team at a nonprofit in North County (where I live). Commuting is for the birds and I want to make an impact where I live.  

What has been your organization’s response to COVID-19?

During disasters, 2-1-1 San Diego serves as the non-emergency line to answer questions from the public which frees up 911 to answer emergency calls while our team provides information. We also report trend data and needs information to the County to inform their response. In response to COVID-19, 2-1-1 is answering calls from the public looking for resources. We are noting that a number of people calling 2-1-1 right now have never called 2-1-1, never needed the resources we are connecting them to - this is indicative of the financial impact this is having here in our community. Our CalFresh application assistance has increased immensely and the number of people in need of emergency rental assistance and utility assistance has increased as well. These are incredibly difficult times and our staff are working hard to get these folks connected to the help they need while adjusting to working remotely - it has been tough but has also been great to see our staff step up and take on "other duties as assigned" and work together and with our partners to help those in need. 

What advice do you have for someone who is just getting started in their non-profit career?

Go on lots of "dates" and by dates I mean a coffee or wine date with anyone and everyone that can provide you guidance. Start looking at organizations you like and scan their employee pages, reach out and see if you can have an "informational interview" with a person at the org to learn about how they got where they are, advice, tips and tricks. This serves you in multiple ways - the person is now potentially a reference for any future applications, they may put in a good word for you at their org, they can connect you to other nonprofit professionals to "date" and you also now have a potential mentor to reach out to in your professional times of need. The more robust your professional social network, the better. 

What is your quarantine life like working from home?

My WFH quarantine life has included working the regular day ("clocking in" around 8AM, but also lots of reading, eating my husband's incredible cooking (he just made his own hot sauce and pickles!), garage workouts and, recently, lots of sitting in the sun. Specifically for work, I’m trying to maintain regular duties while also fundraising to support our COVID response.

If you are interested in being featured in an upcoming Member Spotlight, please email our Membership Team!