As an Organizational Development Professional, Amy Elrod-Lahti thrives from solving people’s tough problems. That, coupled with a need to give back, led her to seek out pro bono service.
A study in people
Growing up, I always wanted to be an Egyptologist, and in a way, I guess I still am. Although I’m not discovering artifacts or learning about ancient civilizations, my job requires me to analyze and synthesize information. Consulting clients usually come to me with an idea of what needs to change in their organizations, but when we begin an inquiry process, many times we find that what they need is something completely different than what they had envisioned. The desire to help people ask big questions and uncover the root causes of conditions in their organizations is what drew me to pro bono in the first place—I saw an opportunity to help those who might not otherwise be able to access assistance.
Making a difference through pro bono
I’m concerned about mass incarceration, and believe that reforming the prison system should be a top priority. The impact that these systems have on our communities is immeasurable, so I was interested in helping an organization that was invested in reforming them. When I saw that the Correctional Association of New York had requested HR support through Taproot Plus, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of.
Correctional Association of New York is a social change organization whose mission is to eradicate mass incarceration and create a future where we don’t recognize the prison system that exists today. They were looking for a skilled volunteer to review their HR materials and provide feedback.
I applied because I felt I could help them with their need, and during our interview we knew it was a great match! We got straight to work. I introduced new job description templates to the team, assessed their performance review process, and even strategized on how to improve their interview and hiring protocol. We also worked together to workshop a new organizational structure to make sure that the Correctional Association of New York was set up for success down the road.
“To people considering doing pro bono, I say: do it! It takes a small amount of your time but generates enormous feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment.”
Just the starting point
After working with Correctional Association of New York, I discovered how impactful pro bono can be and felt the need to continue helping people. I went on to work with nonprofits like Rise Against Hunger to support their leadership development efforts. I’ve also shared my skills with great causes through Taproot’s Sessions option, a one-time, one-hour consultation where nonprofits get to the root of their obstacles.
I was surprised just how easy it is to work with so many different people and learn from their experiences. During my time doing pro bono, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to meet so many dedicated nonprofit professionals—and to help their critical work whenever and wherever I can.