Jamila Baucom, Vice President for Advancement, The Children’s Village
Jamila Baucom is the Vice President for Advancement at The Children’s Village. Jamila has devoted her entire professional career to working in public service. With over 20 years of experience in fundraising and communications, she has often chosen to utilize her talents in support of organizations that focus on children, women, and families, including Planned Parenthood, the United Way, and the Children’s Defense Fund. Jamila has a B.A. from the University of Rochester and a Masters in Public Administration from NYU.
WID: How have the needs of the youth served by The Children’s Village changed throughout the pandemic, and how have you altered your engagement strategy with donors to ensure that these needs are being addressed? What opportunities or hurdles have arisen?
Jamila: The Children’s Village (CV) serves over 15,000 youth and families annually, and operates more than 25 different programs throughout the NY metropolitan area. The pandemic brought home to us in stark terms that we must give people what they need; and that included finding the in-kind and financial resources to do so. Those who had access to resources like a comfortable home, technology and online purchase power could shelter in place, educate children and survive. Those who did not were exposed and many died, lost employment or income, or were not prepared or equipped to work or do school remotely. CV was and remains on the frontlines of this crisis ensuring immediate and essential needs were met.
Thanks to our funders and supporters, we have been able to continue providing high quality essential services. We ensured that we could maintain our current funding streams, and were in close communication with funders to express how the needs of our youth and families continued to change. We increased our online presence and provided regular digital updates to our donors and community, including providing online options for traditional in-person fundraisers. Our supporters stepped up for us in a major way through creating their own Peer-to-Peer fundraisers, donating in-kind goods, sending in messages of thanks to CV’s essential workers, and more.
Going forward we want to realign CV to give our youth and families what they really need long-term – we want to help build wealth; have people who love them unconditionally; create beautiful and affordable housing in racially integrated communities; and receive a good education and access to responsive health care.
WID: What are some of the ways in which you and other senior leadership have kept your staff motivated, supported, and mission oriented during this time?
Jamila: I am incredibly proud to work at an organization that was so quickly able to recognize how the pandemic was going to impact our staff. While many businesses and other non-profits could create full work from home policies, the majority of our staff (over 800 of them) had to continue reporting to work every day and have done so since the crisis began to be there for the children in our care. Two weeks into the crisis our leadership and Board came up with a plan to provide temporary salary increases (ranging from 5-25%) to direct care staff, who were often leaving their own children and families to care for those at CV. Many were paying extra for transportation like Uber when public transportation moved to limited schedules and were working shift hours that did not allow them time to shop for essentials for their own families. When they did have time to shop, they were often met with hiked-up prices for simple things like paper towels and sanitizer.
We also constantly lifted up our community partners and the life-saving service provided by our foster parents. Our President and CEO and leadership team immediately instituted daily all-staff conference calls to report updates on the pandemic, availability of PPE, and more. This is no small feat for an organization that averages more than 1,200 staff, but it was essential to ensure that there was transparency and opportunities for everyone to be informed. We also moved quickly to secure whatever PPE, testing location information, and remote work strategies we could. Through it all, starting with our Board and CEO, we never forgot that we are a 170-year-old organization that works in partnership with and in support of youth and families. They are the key to why we are here, and the reason our motivated and dedicated staff continues to show up day after day.
WID: How has WID been helpful to you in your career and as a leader in the Development field?
Jamila: WID is an amazing organization that has really created a place where I feel comfortable talking about the exciting aspects of fundraising, but also the challenges. It creates opportunities to continue to learn and hone the craft, but also those key networking and relationship-building opportunities that are so important for fundraising. WID has also allowed for a space to look at this work specifically through the lens of gender and race: both as a fundraiser but also as it relates to leadership and management. I’m really grateful to be able to look back at some relationships and key conversations I have been able to have because of WID.
WID: What has been your favorite virtual WID event this season, or what upcoming events are you most looking forward to?
Jamila: I have enjoyed the Deconstructing Development series. The topics covered are incredibly relevant and helpful, and create an ongoing opportunity for women in this field to expand their knowledge or dive deeper into strategies that are working.