Theresa is the Director of Impact at Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI).
Theresa joined the SVP Denver Board in November 2022.
How did you initially get connected to SVP Denver?
My initial connection to SVP Denver was through my fellow Board member, Paul Collier, and through his company, Coeffect. He led the Theory of Change cohort that RMMFI participated in, and then we actually hired Paul to do an evaluation project.
Having a strong support system to understand your impact and being able to communicate that to other people is a huge win for nonprofits, especially as we’re all trying to fundraise and build our networks. So I think what Coeffect does in the community is just amazing.
My second connection was through Impact Charitable and its partnership with SVP Denver. Nonprofit partnerships get a lot of talk. But not everyone walks that walk. And so the fact that SVP Denver and Impact Charitable came together to deploy resources during Covid by utilizing high impact strategies is a powerful model for other social impact organizations to follow.
As an SVP Denver board member you have a very unique perspective as you lead one of the nonprofits that has utilized SVP Denver’s training. Can you speak to that?
SVP Denver and RMMFI had started working together before my time. SVP Denver helped RMMFI design new lending products. The reason I mentioned that is because this previous engagement with SVP Denver is how I got connected to the Theory of Change cohort.
I loved the Theory of Change cohort. I thought the way that it was structured worked really well. The other organizations I met were amazing and the product that we created from the cohort has truly been transformational for our organization. You can’t say that from all cohort learning opportunities. Sometimes they end up being a report that sits on a shelf. But, in this case, we use our theory of change every day and have realigned the organization’s impact measurement philosophy around it.
I joined the SVP Denver board in part to help bring the nonprofit voice to the table where decisions on strategy, budget, and social sector impact are being made.
On a more personal level, I’ve always worked in nonprofits. I have my MPA in public and nonprofit management and a certificate in social entrepreneurship. I love to think broadly about how we support a strong social impact sector. So this has been a really powerful experience for me.
It brings me a lot of joy to see social impact organizations and impact investors and corporate volunteers – people who care about social justice – coming together in ways that are really meaningful.
What do you value most in a friendship?
I think a really important friend quality to me is just “showing up”. That means a lot of different things to me. I think what I offer in a friendship, and what I rely on in my friendships, is showing up when times are hard – checking in with friends who are going through tough times. But also, showing up when things are great.
I pride myself on showing up for my family and friends. I’m often on airplanes as I’m trying to be there for life milestones or even locally when a lot of my other friends work in nonprofits. I’m often at community events. I think that showing up is just such a really powerful way to tell someone you love them.
Describe in detail your favorite way to eat potatoes.
This is a great question. There is one right answer and it is a controversial one.
I believe it’s steak fries. Because they have all the benefits of a regular french fry – they’re salty, they’re crispy on the outside – you eat them with ketchup. They’re great. But, there’s more substance, so you can actually taste that it’s a potato. I just feel like they’re slightly better than other forms of french fries.
French fries are absolutely the best way to eat potatoes. All of the other ways pale in comparison. At the bottom of the list is mashed potatoes. I realize that’s an unpopular opinion.
Who is one person who changed your life but doesn’t know it, and how did they impact you?
My pick is Robin Wall Kimmerer, the author of Braiding Sweetgrass. She’s a botanist, scientist, biologist, and an indigenous woman who uses her experience to link indigenous philosophies and wisdom with the scientific, such as what is going on in our environment and how we can ultimately be good stewards of the land, but also, but more broadly, of each other.
I read Braiding Sweetgrass a couple years ago and it totally changed the way that I think about how I show up in nature. Hiking and camping are big hobbies of mine. Previously I had been subscribing to the philosophy of “leave no trace”.
But, according to her, that’s not enough. The best thing that we can do is actually help make nature better. Part of the reason the book is about sweetgrass is because if you harvest sweetgrass correctly and effectively then it actually grows better than if you weren’t there at all. So, the best thing I can do is actually be generative and contribute.
It has changed the way that I do my hobbies outside, but also more broadly in terms of my life. How do we all contribute and offer something that is generative? How do we make things better than what was there before? I think her work is really moving.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I joined the board because I see the huge potential and opportunity for what SVP Denver contributes in this space – especially in bringing together different communities of people and organizations who are all aligned on the social issues facing our community, I think it is absolutely powerful.
Even though it’s a small board and SVP Denver is a small team, the impact is so much greater than maybe what the SVP budget line item is. I think bringing people together is so impactful.