Why I Serve Where I Serve

I recently joined the board of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, the region’s voice for historic preservation.  In this new role, I look forward to learning, contributing, and advocating alongside a great staff and board.

Non-profit boards are, of course, a great way to learn, contribute, and advocate, and perhaps you have detected in my volunteer choices some recurring themes, which I’d like to further articulate in this post. 

To begin, here’s where I’m involved as of now.  In addition to historic preservation, I am also involved in Asian business (Asian American Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia), Christian education (City School), design (Community Design Collaborative), triple bottom line business (Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia), and immigrants and economic development (Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians).   I also have less formal but still meaningful participation in groups that are working on diversity in journalism, public policy education, and social impact real estate development. 

I like all of the people I serve and serve with, and these activities are hugely helpful (directly and indirectly) for my business development responsibilities at work.  Not to mention the fact that everyone I interact with in each of these spaces knows way more than I, so it is a good stretch for me and I am thankful for such a rich learning environment.  So there are significant selfish reasons for me to give of my scarce time in these ways. 

But they are also a way I can contribute to the kind of urban community I aspire for Philadelphia to be, one which is economically vibrant, intentionally inclusive, and deeply authentic.  In these causes and organizations I have found a vehicle to push for just that kind of place, and I am deeply grateful for those who serve with me, almost all of whom who give more of their time and have far more insight than I ever will. 

Someday (probably a long time from now!), I will retire, and when that day happens I want to say that I gave it my all and helped the next generation to keep fighting the good fight.   That’s why I serve where I serve.
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