MaryAnne Denniston grew up in a family where giving back was just part of the culture. She’s carried that approach through her life, through her extensive career, and to Taproot Foundation.
And we couldn’t be more fortunate.
For decades, MaryAnne Denniston has worked establishing herself as a Human Resources leader in New York. Having formed her own firm, The Denniston Group, in 1989, she’s no stranger to solving tough HR challenges and consulting for organizations that need her expertise.
But it goes beyond a job. As she so nonchalantly puts it, “I’ve always done that: help here, help there.”
That’s an understatement if there ever was one. It’s more than just helping here or there. It’s making a real difference. MaryAnne’s life of giving back has included tenure on the board of an adult school, supporting executive searches for organizations in need, and, of course, leading four Human Resources Service Grants for Taproot.
Taproot’s New York Program Manager Allie Hallock couldn’t be more thrilled to have MaryAnne as part of our team. “MaryAnne brings a ton of value to our nonprofit clients,” Allie said.
“It’s not just about her expertise and her extensive HR knowledge. It’s also about the passion she brings and the real commitment to making sure nonprofits grow and improve from the projects they work with her on.”
MaryAnne’s Human Resources projects
- CitiWide Harm Reduction, Performance Management
- CitiWide Harm Reduction, Competitor/Collaborator Analysis
- Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, Board Recruitment
- Central Queens Academy Charter School, HR Capacity Build
While Taproot and the nonprofits are thankful to have MaryAnne Denniston working with us, we’re also happy to know that the partnership is mutually appreciated. “I really enjoy the ability to give business input that these organizations would otherwise not have access to. It’s interesting because you’re taking business processes and needing to adapt to what will work in a nonprofit world,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s very gratifying to be able to see something work that you’ve suggested that may seem simple to [HR professionals] but it had just not been thought of.”
Path to pro bono success
Of course, it’s a lot of work to make an engagement successful – for both pro bono consultants and the nonprofits. MaryAnne explained: “The most gratifying engagements are those where there is no expectation of grand solutions appearing as if by the magic of Extreme Home Makeover, but where there is a willingness to fully participate in a This Old House experience with all hands on deck and everyone swinging hammers.”
It’s those collaborative projects that lead to the most success. And that’s also where she has built the most meaningful relationships. When speaking of one such nonprofit, CitiWide Harm Reduction Program (now, Boom!Health), it’s easy to understand what she means. MaryAnne says she can sing that organization’s praises about the valuable work that they do. But it’s also more than that. Since completing her work with CitiWide, she has continued to attend their events and ribbon cuttings. And most recently, she attended a memorial service for one of CitiWide’s former staff. What really struck MaryAnne was seeing the number of people who came to pay their respects and honor the man who had cared so much. Said MaryAnne, “Seeing how he affected people and knowing the work we did there made a difference had real impact on me.”
As MaryAnne continues to give back and work with others, she says that there are a few important things for anyone to be successful doing pro bono. But most of all? “Enjoy it, and embrace whatever it is you’re doing. Become involved with the organization so you really understand what they are all about. Understand their purpose, so you are never just going through the motions.”
Thank you, MaryAnne, for bringing real purpose to work and making a difference!