This blog post was written by Maureen Domenech, the Operations Manager of the Global SOF Foundation. Maureen started with the Foundation near the beginning, in November of 2014, and will wrap up her service at the end of this month. Thank you, Maureen, for your four years of support!
As I depart the Global SOF Foundation (GSF), I can’t help but reminisce on the early days when the GSF first stood up. In the beginning, we were only four individuals: Stu Bradin, our President/CEO; Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew, our Chief Operating Officer; Dr. Keenan Yoho, our Vice President; and myself, a part-time Operations Manager.
In early 2014, I volunteered my time. As a new non-profit, GSF did not have a payroll. We were all initially providing our services pro bono, because we all believed in the cause. We worked day and night laying the groundwork — buying computer equipment, creating email accounts, establishing a web presence, purchasing a CRM system, developing our network, travel, meetings, and the list goes on — all those necessary must-do’s for a brand new organization. We worked hours and hours, and I would drop dead with exhaustion at night. Although I initially volunteered to support the organization as a part-timer, I found myself pulling more and more hours. I was having fun!
“We will be Golden”
By mid-2014, we had recruited 19 Corporate Partners (CPs) and we were congratulating ourselves. WOOHOO, 19 Corporate Partners!!! Of course, for those who knew Stu Bradin well, this was only the beginning! I recall one day Stu saying, “when we reach 30 CPs, we will be golden.” Ha! That was short-lived. Looking back, I think he was just trying to motivate us to stay at our oar stations and “Keep Rowing!” Then, low and behold by the end of 2014 we reached 30 CPs. I had no idea how challenging the next three years would be, but more importantly, a very rewarding time in my personal work history. I still continue to hear “when we reach XX partners…” from time-to-time. Needless to say, the number of CPs keeps growing, soon to hit three figures!
We all know…. STU IS RELENTLESS! I recall my biggest adjustment was receiving emails or calls from Stu either in the wee-early morning hours, or very late at night (when most people are in bed!). His mind was always working overtime. Being the dedicated person I am, I had my phone programmed to alert me every time an email or text hit my inbox on my iPhone. I remember thinking to myself, “this guy doesn’t sleep!” I soon realized this is just Stu Bradin. I did finally learn what required an immediate response and what could wait, and I eventually turned off my notifications at night on my phone, although by this time he had inadvertently trained me to constantly check my mail. I was and am still in awe of all the great ideas he comes up with, and they haven’t stopped to this day. I have also learned that he has friends spanning across all continents and from just about every country on earth, not to mention all his U.S./Government contacts. With a network like that, we were definitely positioned for growth and success.
Four years and going strong!
Fast forward to today, in less than four years, we have grown to 85 CPs! I have no doubt we will hit 100 soon! We have also had exponential growth in the number of events we host. We are now hosting an annual overseas symposium, two U.S. based symposiums, annual receptions in FL and DC, field trips to Partner facilities for our local international partners, and a myriad of other events in between. This year, we’ve hosted the two U.S.-based Symposiums only 35 days apart from each other.
Now that’s impressive!!!
I think one of the reasons the GSF is so successful today is because of Stu and Meaghan’s vision that a robust Global SOF Network is necessary and possible. Of course, having the right team helps, which I think we have built! I am proud of the work we’ve done and how fast the Foundation has grown. I have to say WE ARE AWESOME!
I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to play an integral part in standing up such a fantastic organization! I will miss the team, but I will continue to follow the Foundation on social media. Godspeed to the GSF and all who support it!
For those reading this blog who are somewhat curious about partnership with the GSF, learn more on the website at the link below:
And of course, keep up with the GSF on different Social Media platforms by following @GlobalSOF. I know that I will be!