Dear Friends and Partners across the US,
After six years leading Decatur Makers as Executive Director, I am announcing my retirement, at the end of June, 2022. The years with this organization, and the inspiring community of makers across the United States that I’ve had the pleasure to meet, learn from, and work beside, have been an enriching privilege. I’m grateful for and proud of the incredible growth, progress, and positive impact the organization has made, even during a pandemic. And while changes can bring challenges, they are also a catalyst for growth. Decatur Makers is in a very healthy place, with strong support and momentum to carry into the next season.
Decatur Makers Early Days…
In 2012, with a newly empty nest, my husband and I made the move to Decatur to embrace in-town living. I started searching for non-profit organizations as a way to engage with our new community. Through my volunteering with the Decatur Education Foundation (DEF), I learned about a fledgling non-profit makerspace they were supporting as a fiscal sponsor. Attending an informational meeting for Decatur Makers, changed my career as well as my life.
Although, as a visual learner, I already appreciated the benefits of hands-on education, I was new to the nonprofit world and the maker movement. I was inspired by the idea of an all-ages community, building and learning together, and found myself imagining possibilities and pursuing opportunities that could create positive change in the world through making.
My heart embraced the Decatur Makers mission in support of education, economic development and building community to make a difference. Over the past eight years (including two years volunteering before being hired as the first paid employee), I have been challenged and motivated and have grown in many wonderful and unexpected ways with the help of so many encouraging and visionary people.
Decatur Makers Community Impact…
Our organization has grown too, reaching many exciting milestones. From a budgetary perspective, Decatur Makers experienced steady growth, with an increase in charitable support, grants, sponsorships, and memberships resulting in steady increased revenue that is almost 200% greater than when we began. Pre-pandemic, we had grown to almost 500 paying members, tripled our workshops and classes open to the public and supported thousands of youth and teachers across Atlanta with our unique outreach and professional development programming. We’ve continued our work during the pandemic and renewed and developed dozens of community partnerships. And we helped more entrepreneurs and small business owners in realizing business growth created with access to our equipment and expertise.
We’ve increased our Community Projects; some of the ones we are most proud of include:
- Building two 6’ rolling Halloween costumes in partnership with Magic Wheelchair,
- Hosting two personal PC Building events with families from the Decatur Housing Authority,
- Delivering 70,000 PPE to healthcare and frontline workers leading Atlanta Beats Covid (ABC) during the early stages of the pandemic,
- Designing and making almost 600 wood desks for kids in need while learning virtually with school in the midst of the pandemic,
- And supporting Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights Art for the People Project, “What Sonia Said”.
Our outstanding staff has grown to three full-time employees with two part-time team members, who all work extraordinarily hard. Not to mention the hundreds of volunteers who have given of their time and expertise in support of the Decatur Makers mission.
Decatur Makers Next Steps…
In 2021, we outlined four goals as part of our new three year Strategic Plan that we are committed to accomplishing together:
- Sustain and Grow a Diverse Organization
- Improve Internal and External Communications
- Define an Effective Infrastructure and Operations Model
- Provide Relevant Training.
Over the next five months, I will continue our Transformational Management work with Jai Simpson-Joseph of Wings UpRising. Serving as a Transition and Transformation Consultant to support this process, she’ll provide teamwork, management, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) expertise as we prepare for this upcoming change and put the new Strategic Plan into action. And I’ll be working with our dedicated Board of Directors and key stakeholders to find the driven and passionate leader who will take Decatur Makers to even greater heights.
Decatur Makers Love and Appreciation…
Thank you for your partnership over these eight plus years. The most beautiful thing about this organization is the people who are a part of our community. None of our progress would have been possible without your support. I know we can depend on you to continue supporting our exceptional community through this transition and after I retire.
I am eternally grateful for the gift of being a part of the building and transforming of this remarkable organization. We have so much important growth ahead of us and, starting in June, I’ll be cheering on the organization as a continuing member and volunteer every step of the way.
With humble gratitude,