Last Valentine’s Day, we digressed from the candy, flowers, and even our celebration of Galentines and got serious. Fit to Leader, Sarah Kaiser, brought you the story of One Love, a foundation dedicated to the memory of Yeardley Love who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend almost 6 years ago just before she was set to graduate from UVA. One Love is committed to ending relationship abuse, and Katie Hood, CEO, is at the helm, working tirelessly to bring One Love to campuses across the country, to raise awareness, and to raise the funds needed by One Love to grow. With a career in not for profits, including previously leading the Michael J. Fox foundation, she is truly an inspiration to all of us. In honor of One Love’s Month of Action, we are thrilled to welcome Katie Hood to our Fit List.
What made you decide to pursue a career in the non-profit space?
Quite simply, I wanted to make the world a better place. At first, I thought that I would accomplish that goal through government, but as I learned more about nonprofits – in particular, concepts around innovative philanthropy like venture philanthropy and social enterprise – I started to see the incredible opportunities that nonprofits had to offer. Nonprofits can be nimble and creative, characteristics that are needed to get answers to some of our world’s most challenging problems.
How did you get involved with the Michael J. Fox foundation?
I knew that I wanted to work at a nonprofit with a culture that I believed in – urgent, hardworking, and innovative. I reached out to a mentor, Janet Hanson, who introduced me to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. I did not have a connection to Parkinson’s disease, but I was really inspired by the nonprofit’s vision of doing whatever it took to cure Parkinson’s disease.
What led you to One Love? How did you become CEO?
One Love was founded after Yeardley Love, a senior at the University of Virginia was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend just weeks before their graduation. Yeardley’s cousin is one of my best friends, and so I had a connection to Yeardley’s family from the beginning. As Yeardley’s family turned toward ambitious goals around relationship violence prevention to honor Yeardley, I got involved as an advisor. When I saw a product that they had developed, Escalation, I joined as CEO to help take One Love’s work national. I believed that the product was a game changer and that relationship violence was an issue that this generation had the ability and motivation to take on in a meaningful way.
What’s your advice for someone interested in working at a non-profit? Are there any must take classes?
Running a nonprofit is running a business. Any class or degree that teaches you about running an organization smartly is key. Nonprofits also need people who can wear multiple hats. I would encourage those interested in working at a nonprofit to develop social media skills, become highly comfortable with PowerPoint, learn how to code, and/or even public speak. All of these skills help you play multiple roles and can be immensely valuable for resource strapped organizations, like nonprofits.
What should I know about relationship violence? If I know someone who I think is in danger, what should I do?
Relationship violence is incredibly common in our country. 1 in 3 women will be in a violent relationship in her lifetime, and young women ages 16 to 24 are at 3-time greater risk. Relationship violence can be emotional, sexual or physical, but abusive relationships do not begin in a bad place. They usually start in a rush of excitement and adoration that leaves you thinking that your prince or princess has come. You are swept off your feet and feel great. The next phase, though, is when warning signs begin. Your partner increasingly isolates you from your friends and even family, demanding that you spend your time with him or her instead. You feel uncomfortable about how controlling he or she is acting, but because you are simultaneously told how much you are loved, you make excuses for that person and his or her behavior. Eventually the relationship progresses into emotional abuse and even sexual or physical abuse.
Very specifically, a few things to know:
- If your partner ever threatens you with a gun or chokes you, you are in grave danger.
- The answer is not always an immediate breakup –a breakup is often when the abuser feels an ultimate loss of control and can be very dangerous.
If you feel someone is in serious immediate risk or danger, you must get help immediately. Tell someone, tell anyone – do not minimize what you are seeing. Be supportive of your friend. He or she has probably lost the ability to advocate for himself or herself after being in a controlling and abusive relationship for some time. He or she will probably defend some of the behaviors that you believe are warning signs which can seem confusing and may make you not want to help any more. Do not give up. Trust your gut. The situation may be more dangerous than you think.
How can I join the movement? How can I help bring an Escalation Workshop to my campus?
Visit our web site joinonelove.org and see what is happening on your campus already. Reach out to our team through the contact information on our website to learn more about bringing the Escalation Workshop to your school. Follow us on Instagram @join1love and @yardsforyeardley, and share our social campaign #ThatsNotLove.
You are a CEO and a mom. What are your thoughts on work and life balance?
My honest answer is that a work and life balance does not exist. When I was young, I thought that homeostasis was achievable between work and home. Now, I just do not think it is possible, and, arguably, technology has made it better and worse. While you can do more things on the fly, like sending emails while chaperoning your child’s field trip, you do not have real boundaries around when one set of responsibilities stops and the other begins.
I take comfort in the fact that I do not believe there is a balance and that each day we can only do the best we can as a mom and as a dad. Most days everything on my list does not get done, and I always feel a little behind – that is OK. My goal each day is to try to be 90 percent focused on work when I am at work and 90 percent focused on my kids when I am at home.
What makes you feel confident?
Experience has made me confident. The book “Outliers” is dead right – to get good at something you have to do it over and over. Now that I have been working for 20 years and parenting for 10, I feel so much better at both things than I did in year one. I still have moments of insecurity, but they are easier to push down than they once were.
What does She’s Fit to Lead mean to you? How does someone become Fit to Lead?
All of us are fit to lead, but we sometimes do not feel that way. Part of leading is articulating your desire to do so and then doing it. We can support each other in doing that.
If One Love and their goal resonate with you, or if you want to get involved there are many ways to do so. You can bring an “escalation” workshop to your campus and be an educator. You can challenge your team or school to run 1 million yards for Yeardley, take to social media to talk about #ThatsNotLove, or donate to the foundation. www.joinonelove.org