In this edition of Five Questions, we chat with Shelby Geter, NEO Philanthropy’s Director of Human Resources.
1. Welcome to NEO Philanthropy! As our new Director of Human Resources, you come to the organization at a time of immense change in philanthropy, at NEO specifically, and in the social justice sector and our society in general. Not to mention you’re starting this job during a global pandemic. What has prepared you in your career and life for this moment?
I’m so excited to have joined NEO as the new Director of Human Resources (HR). My earliest regular HR position was with the Fund for the City of New York, a similarly structured nonprofit that acted as fiscal sponsor to many incubator nonprofits in the NY tri-state. This early role solidified not only my love for working within a mission-driven nonprofit, but also within the discipline of HR. Following this experience, I’ve had the honor of working with other nonprofits that allowed me to gain a wealth of experience while building strong HR functions. Joining NEO feels as though I’ve come “full-circle,” being back in a familiar structure, supporting and contributing to great work.
2. NEO Philanthropy is growing and evolving. We are engaged in a multi-year Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity and Intersectionality (DEII) process with the goal of creating a race equity culture and practice at NEO. Meanwhile, our collaborative funds, fiscal sponsorships, donor services and supportive departments like finance and operations are all experiencing change. What is the role of HR in a dynamic, changing organization like NEO in 2021 and beyond?
I view HR as a trusted partner and collaborator in formulating and operationalizing change. We are strong thought-partners, relationship builders, problem solvers and implementers. Building strong relationships and being a valued partner during early conversations helps us share considerations that may have been overlooked, suggest new considerations, and identify challenges, if any exists. I’m looking forward to me and the HR team being part of the amazing growth and change NEO has embarked upon.
3. Who have been the most influential role models in your life?
I am fortunate enough to have many. My mother is my first, and forever, role model (followed by my grandmother and great-grandmother). I come from a long line of strong and smart women, who put family and God first. I grew up in awe of how they made things happen for our family, and I purposed in my heart to emulate this as I became a woman, wife and mother.
A couple of other notable role models are my career counselor while in undergrad, Laura Jones, and my mentor, Carolyn Powell. Laura poured into me so selflessly during my last semester of undergrad, that I purposed in my heart to be to someone what she had been to me. I credit Laura as the reason I embarked upon a career in HR. I was also fortunate enough to meet, and work with, Carolyn early in my HR career. She too unselfishly poured into me, and her team, demonstrating it was ok to be your authentic self, to take risks, and learn from mistakes. She was more confident in me at times than I was in my own abilities. Our early relationship developed into a natural friendship. I’m so very proud, and honored, to be mentored, coached, guided and encouraged by these women.
4. You have a distinguished career serving in mission-driven and values-aligned organizations. For example, you were director of talent at IDEO.org, a non-profit studio working at the intersection of design, social justice and the desire to create a more just and inclusive world. Working in an environment with talented, bright, creative, committed people seems like a calling for you. Can you give us an insight into how Shelby Geter thrives in and is inspired by such an environment?
As I said, I’m so very excited to me part of NEO’s amazing team, working to eradicate the many injustices and inequities that have permeated the fibers of our country for hundreds of years. I care deeply about people, how they are treated, the opportunities they are provided. Working with NEO aligns perfectly with my personal values and passions with tangible programs that are making lasting impacts. I want my contributions to count, and NEO is the place where I feel they can.
5. When not at work, what are some of your favorite things to do?
I have become the “go to” person amongst family and friends when thinking through employment opportunities, crafting and revising resumes, and thinking through otherwise tough issues. Some other favorites include connecting with my family (I LOVE my family to pieces!), vacationing in warm tropical locations, cruising the seas when it is safe to do so again, taking long walks and shopping.