Andrew's Farewell to the Fellowship
Andrew Schwartz, member of the Fellowship Class of 2018, answers some questions on his post-Fellowship plans and what he learned during his time at El Pomar Foundation.
What are your plans upon leaving the Fellowship?
After two challenging, edifying and fulfilling years with El Pomar’s Fellowship program, my time has come to an end. I will now be working as an Executive Coordinator with Community Resource Center, an organization I have grown to admire ever since I participated in the Rural Philanthropy Days conference in Paonia. I was really pleased with the effort its staff made to help grant seekers better develop and navigate relationships with funders like El Pomar, and I am excited to be able to support them and continue to hold my finger on the pulse of the state’s nonprofit sector.
What are your career ambitions?
While I really value my experience working in Colorado’s nonprofit sector, my eventual goal is to go to law school with the hope of practicing appellate litigation. This area of law, the harbinger for some of the most fascinating doctrines and precedents in American life and governance, intrigues me for its demand for analytical skills, research, and written and oral advocacy. This aspiration, like many things in these shifting times, is surely subject to change. Regardless of what I end up doing, though, I can comfortably attribute a considerable portion of my success in any future career to all that I have learned as an El Pomar Fellow and all that has been invested in my personal and professional growth these past two years.
What lessons did you learn during your time in the Fellowship and how do they inform your career going forward?
In the past two years, I have learned a great deal about the nonprofit sector, the philosophies of philanthropy and grantmaking, program management, investing, and organizational finance and leadership, all while acquiring a heightened self-awareness and clarification of my values and ideals. One of the most valuable things I have taken away from this experience, however, is an understanding of the importance of human capital in solving complex problems. El Pomar grants millions of dollars each year to support the complex communities of Colorado, but as a step further, relies on its diverse coalitions of local leaders, government officials and nonprofits to collaborate, pool ideas and resources, and devise community-driven solutions. This was particularly manifest in my experiences supporting the Metro and High Country Regional Councils, which also allowed me to think strategically, practice my facilitation skills and witness collaboration and consensus building. I learned so much from the council members I supported, each of whom demonstrated such an unwavering passion for their communities.
Whether through nonprofit work or policy work, I have learned that throwing money at an issue will only get you so far in addressing any problem. In order to really effectuate positive change, it’s important to foster community buy-in and empower communities themselves to rise to the occasion, which I have been so fortunate to see firsthand at El Pomar.
What will you miss most about the Foundation?
There is a lot I will miss about El Pomar – the scope of the work, eclectic experiences and gorgeous location, to name a few. Above all, I will miss the people. The Fellowship calls for very enthusiastic, diligent and civically-minded individuals, and I am forever grateful to have worked alongside these people for the past two years. Everybody brings such different values and skills to the cohort, and the beauty of the Fellowship is designing a highly-functional cohort based on everyone’s different qualities and experiences.
The Fellowship taught me how to build coalitions with all sorts of people and that would not have been the experience it was if not for the people with whom I worked. Thank you, El Pomar, for investing so much into this program and into my development personally. I look forward to the opportunities down the road to cross paths and remain in touch!