Episode 308 - Tapping the Potential of (Career) Volunteers

Kara McLaughlin of Mesa Community Action Network shares how “career volunteers” play a pivotal role in guiding her agency’s program development and how they grow their leadership pipeline by fostering a welcoming culture and by integrating volunteers into operations at every level.

A New Leaf is a nonprofit organization, providing a broad spectrum of support services to help individuals & families in need. Whether it be the loss of a job, a medical crisis, domestic violence, homelessness, or another crisis, A New Leaf is here to help households recover and thrive.

A New Leaf is a certified Service Enterprise organization, welcoming the presence of community partners in its efforts to deliver on its mission of Helping Families, Changing Lives. As integral members of our team, volunteers experience meaningful work while contributing to enhanced services, renewed energy, and increased community awareness.

The volunteer program has been limited to new volunteers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They have limited volunteer involvement to critical need areas, and only where they can operate safely. Existing volunteers working at A New Leaf programs continue to operate under program guidelines.

Despite the impact of the pandemic on operations volunteers continue to be involved in pivotal decision-making roles throughout the organization.  

In this episode, Kara shares how her organization has strategically leveraged volunteers in order to do more with less, not only in direct service roles but also in leadership and program development.

Kara discusses the power of the “career volunteer,” or those that contrbutesingificant hours each month to their cause of choice, and notes that they are available to help in every community.  Organizations simply need to connect with them to tap this valuable resource.

For more information, visit https://www.turnanewleaf.org/about/.

For More:

For more info on growing volunteer leaders, check out Season 1 of the Time + Talent podcast, Episode 106: Designing a Leadership Pipeline for 23,000 Volunteers.

Guest Bio:

Kara McLaughlin, B.A.E.
Sr. Volunteer Financial Coach/Educator
Mesa Community Action Network

Kara McLaughlin, who is a graduate of Arizona State University is an experienced “career volunteer” serving the non-profit industry through budget counseling, education, program development, volunteer community leadership, and emergency financial services since 1988.  A long time community servant and an ardent supporter of volunteer service.

Born in the Midwest, Kara moved to Arizona with her family in second grade and married her junior high sweetheart Phil McLaughlin in 1986. Together they have three amazing young adult children and two beagles. 

Kara followed her husband across the globe as a Navy wife for 26 years beginning her volunteer career helping other Navy spouses. After discovering her teaching certification wasn’t valid at new duty stations and working for a non-profit, Kara began taking on numerous volunteer roles for Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Boy Scouts of America, Churches, music groups, and more. 

Although her intent was to resume her career once Phil left the Navy, Kara discovered upon Phil’s retirement that she did have a career, that of a volunteer. After moving back to Arizona, she joined A New Leaf as a volunteer and has served as an IDA Assistant, Lead Volunteer Financial Coach & Educator, and now serves as their Organization Volunteer Chair. 

Kara realizes she is blessed to be able to donate her time and talents which fits her family’s priorities best with the Volunteer benefits package of flexibility. 

You can find Kara at kmclaughlin@turnanewleaf.org and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kara-mclaughlin-68867579/.

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