Harriet Boorhem: Youth Today’s Online Diarist

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Entry 12: Looking Back on a Decade

I have been President of Promise House for ten years this month and with the agency for 13. Hard to believe. There are days I think I have accomplished absolutely nothing, and then other days when I feel pretty good about what we’ve done. Here’s some of the good stuff:

  • I’ve had my same executive team for nine years.
  • I have the BEST executive assistant in the universe.
  • We have gone from raising a little over $200,000 in local funds the first year I took over to now raising over $1 million per year.
  • We have had a lot of fun.
  • We have had some incredibly funny stories and weird happenings to keep us from being bored.
  • We totally re-branded the agency i.e., new vision, mission, values, new logo and tag line,  new website, new collaterals, banners, the whole 9 yards.
  • We jumped into the Social Media world with both feet.
  • I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the most incredible people across the country through my involvement with the National Council on Youth Policy and Grant Review.
  • We saved our largest state program from total annihilation.  
  • We’ve served over 40,000 teens and their family members since I took over.
  • My Leadership Team (VPs, Managers, and me) has grown tremendously in areas of conflict resolution, team work across departments, productivity, connection with and respect for each other (and it has NOT been easy).
  • Our Street Outreach Team has more than tripled the number of teens brought into the shelter and transitional living. They are awesome!
  • We have gone from the best kept secret in Dallas to a pretty-well-known agency. Long way to go still.
  • I have worked with some incredibly dedicated board members over the last 10 years.
  • Promise House continues to have unbelievably dedicated staff.
  • The kids—what a blast to be able to interact and hang out with them on a daily basis.

Here’s Some of the Bad Stuff:

  • Government continues to be the bane and life-blood of our existence. With the recent news of the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Program totally closing at the federal level, we are losing our Parents with Promise Program TOTALLY. The volatility of government funding SUCKS.
  • Turnover is still too high at the case-manager level. We are working currently to grade that position to give folks somewhere to go in the agency.
  • We STILL cannot seem to get the attention of the important people in Dallas. 
  • My board of directors is still not where I want it to be in terms of numbers, influence, and contribution to Promise House.
  • We haven’t grown like I want us to. Several attempts at expansion have not worked out.  Still pondering how to do that.
  • Raising unrestricted money gets harder and harder every year.
  • State Government…enough said.
  • Impact of the great recession. Survival mode is not fun.
  • Day-to-day grind of never enough, never good enough, never fast enough, never having time to savor victories or good stuff before something bad WHAMS us in the face.

So, the rule of feedback is to sandwich bad stuff between good stuff, and end with hope.  Therefore, I’ll end with the BEST thing:

I work in an honorable profession, have the honor and privilege of being involved in the lives of some of the most incredible teens on Earth, get to work with dedicated and mission-driven staff, get to meet terrific people from across the country, have an incredible network of support when I need it, and, as a colleague from Oklahoma once said, I get to make whatever I want out of this job and the agency.

When I look at it that way, I think the good pretty well X’s out the bad. Here’s to 10 more.

Have a great week!

Harriet Boorhem is the president of Promise House, which provides a multitude of services to families and homeless youth in the Dallas area, and Youth Today's first online diarist.