Michelle M. Harrington’s BIO
Michelle Harrington has a unique breadth and depth of experience in the non-profit sector in Greater Boston with over twenty four years in the field. Most recently, Michelle was the Boston Executive Director of Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG). Prior to joining SWSG, Michelle was the Development Director for Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses, Inc. (now College Bound Dorchester). Michelle has a B.A. in History from UMass Amherst.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
1. Please share with us what prompted you to launch Friends of the Children (Boston)?
Michelle: The organization is the only organization in Boston that makes a twelve year commitment to the children it serves.
Friends-Boston’s mission is to create generational change by engaging children from high-risk communities in 12 years of transformative mentoring relationships. Our vision is that our Achievers will attend and graduate from college, that they can successfully access external and internal resources for themselves and their families, that they are engaged with and giving back to the community as positive productive citizens and that they are actively pursuing future plans and aspirations. As someone who grew up in Dorchester and was the first person in her family to graduate from college, I know the value of breaking cycles, changing mindsets, and developing skills to create educational opportunities which will then change communities.
There is no typical day in the life of a a leader of a 501c3. Please share with us a sample of your day, start to finish.
I get up and see the family off to work and school, answer emails, review my calendar and head to the office. At the office, I check my internal mail to catch up on paperwork, then it’s internal and external meetings to continue to implement the work of Friends-Boston by meeting with staff, community partners, donors and potential donors to build awareness of our work and fundraising for the organization. I head back to the office to review correspondence, sign letters and checks and review files and information for the following day. I usually get home at 7 p.m.
2. What are your ‘can’t live without’ Smartphone or desktop applications?
Michelle: My new Samsung Galaxy III, Picassa, and Dunkin Donuts Coffee.
3. What are your tricks for time management?
Michelle: Answer emails at 7 a.m. and keep Friday’s as an in the office day to catch up whenever possible.
4. What was the best advice you received when you started your career?
Michelle: Proofread everything.
5. Given the current economic climate, what has been your strategy for building awareness of Friends of the Children (Boston)? (what you do for short term and long term growth)?
Michelle: Utilizing social media including an active Facebook page, sending messages through linkedin, a monthly Constant Contact newsletter and also consistently updating our constituents about our work through our investor updates. We have a five year strategic plan that addresses our fundraising growth and the implementation of our public relations plan.
6. What is your proudest achievement as an accomplished entrepreneur?
Michelle: Instituting summer programming for the first time at Friends-Boston this year. We have been able to serve 37 Achievers who would otherwise not have participated in programming this summer.
7. How do you achieve balance in your life?
Michelle: I have an amazing husband who does way more than his share and I try to keep Sunday as family time whenever possible.
8. Your top 3 book recommendations?
Michelle: Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Trinity by Leon Uris and Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America by Jonathan Kozol.
9. What are your most rewarding charitable involvements?
Michelle: Coordinating the Catholic Charities Cardinal’s Garden Party that raised one million dollars for the first time in 2001. Running a capital campaign that raised 3.1 million dollars to restore Gate of Heaven Church, South Boston in 2005, and of course, becoming the Executive Director of Friends-Boston in March 2013.
10. Who has influenced your career the most?
Michelle: I had two great but very different mentors – Sister Mary Anne Doyle, CSJ when I was starting out in 1988 at the Archdiocese of Boston and Juma Crawford, prior Executive Director of Friends-Boston.
11. What is your advice for someone interested in non-profit leadership?
Michelle: Be prepared because it’s the hardest job you will ever love!