Our partner, Serving USA, interviewed Jodie M. Grenier, CEO and USMC Veteran, of Foundation For Women Warriors for a special Memorial Day edition newsletter.
Meet CEO and USMC Veteran, Jodie M. Grenier
Who is the Foundation For Women Warriors?
Our organization is 101 years old. I was hired in 2016 to turn the organization around, as it was facing significant challenges with fundraising. Prior to my work here, I worked in Intelligence and National Security for various government contracts. I also volunteered as a Director of Development and VP with a start-up nonprofit for three years. I enjoyed my volunteer work in the nonprofit sector and decided to enroll in a Nonprofit Master’s program at the University of San Diego with the intent to change industries. Simultaneously, I was offered my current position. In the last 5 and half years, we have experienced substantial growth throughout our programs and also in revenue generation. We have distinguished ourselves as a leading resource for women veterans locally and have advocated for women veterans nationwide.
What compels you to continue?
Despite our years of progress, women veterans still face significant economic challenges, and as such with each woman we are able to assist we are encouraged to further advance our mission. The need is not isolated to Southern California, and we are in a unique position to scale our programs (hopefully soon) to ensure women across the country can access our programs.
What is your background?
My background in intelligence still proves to be valuable today in my work. I am data-driven and therefore FFWW is as well. We aim to understand beyond the surface of what is reported, we seek to identify causes and measure the effectiveness of our interventions. Most importantly, we do not shy away from understanding where we may fall short and as such, we continuously work to be a double loop learning organization; an organization that drives creativity and innovation, going beyond adapting to change to anticipating or being ahead of change.
What advice would you give women feeling called to start a nonprofit?
Look before you leap! Don’t start a nonprofit unless you have done your market research and determined no other organization is filling the need. Start by identifying who is doing the work and whether you could be more effective as a volunteer, board member, or fill a paid position there. Running a nonprofit, especially in direct services is often running two businesses at once; Generating revenue and serving your clients. And unlike for-profits the more people you serve, your revenue decreases. A start-up nonprofit is much more difficult to sustain than a startup in any other sector if your operations require substantial funding and staff. If after you have done your research, you find your nonprofit can meet an unfilled government or market failure, find a way to quickly get your work started. The nonprofit sector receives funding for work performed, not ideas. The sooner you can demonstrate evidence-based outcomes the better.
One ah-ha moment since starting this journey?
I wouldn’t call it an ah-ha moment however I do think it’s important to mention that each business life-cycle or even crisis whether external or internal, will call for different strengths and adaptive leadership. We live in a rapidly changing environment and the days of three-five year strategic plans are over. Getting your team on board to embrace change is imperative to building personal and organizational resilience and driving your organization’s societal impact.
If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Journal more. Some day someone will need to read your hard lessons learned so that they can mitigate what you couldn’t.
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