Chairman & President, Minds Matter of Los Angeles
Tina co-founded the LA chapter of Minds Matter in 2010 and has served as President and Chair since. Tina is Director of Business Operations at American Public Media’s radio program Marketplace. Previously, Tina was owner and principal consultant at Pindari Associates, a business transformation consulting company. Prior to Pindari Associates, she was CIO and SVP Financial Shared Services with Panavision, the market leader and Academy Award winning provider of camera and lighting services for the film and television industry. Prior to Panavision, Tina was VP Six Sigma Quality and Digitization at NBC Universal based in Burbank, California. Prior to the Six Sigma role, she had a variety of Finance positions including VP of Finance/IT and Sales Traffic at NBC Europe in London, UK. Tina is a graduate of GE’s Financial Management Program as well as a former Corporate Auditor with GE’s elite internal management training program. She holds a BS degree in Finance from Indiana University in Bloomington.
What called you to Minds Matter and how did it all come together?
I had spent a good 20 years working for corporate America and while I had learned and great deal and traveled a good part of the world, there was still something very much missing. There was not one singular event that shaped my thinking but about 6 or 7 years ago, I attended a workshop on leadership and we did an exercise on values. I don’t know if I had ever actually defined my values up to that point. In defining them, I also came to the realization that I had pretty much ignored them for a good part of my life. Not completely, but they definitely had taken a back seat to my “career” and all that entailed. So I made a dramatic change in my life and quit a very good corporate position – with no idea what I was going to do next.
I stumbled across Minds Matter. As I learned more about the organization, I knew I wanted to be involved in some way so I reached out to them. At the time, they did not have anything in LA but we talked about ways I could still be involved. Then after a few months, they asked if I wanted to start the LA chapter. I had never thought of that but it sounded good so long as I could be partnered up with some folks who were more familiar with the organization. The National organization introduced me to Taber Gonzales and April Bain who were amazing from the first minute I met them. The three of us, along with my husband Bill, embarked on the journey to bring Minds Matter to Los Angeles. Between the 4 of us, we did everything from find a location for sessions, talking with many, many schools, becoming incorporated, building a board of directors, creating marketing materials, a website and so, so much more. All of us worked harder than we ever had in the past but for something that meant the world to us. Welcoming that first class of Sophomores was an amazing experience. The only thing that topped it was their graduation from MMLA three years later as all of them headed off to college!
How do you balance full-time work and Minds Matter?
Nothing extraordinary is ever done by one person and MMLA is no exception. We have an amazing Executive team and Board of Directors that truly do the bulk of the heavy lifting. There are times when it seems too much but then you think of the students we are serving and what they face in a day and it puts everything in perspective.
Though we don’t have sessions over the summer with the students, our teams use that time to do a lot of team building and planning for the upcoming year. Having a very structured program and doing as much advance planning as possible allows all of us to be able to balance volunteer work with full time jobs. And honestly, being flexible. We set aggressive goals for improvements to curriculum and the overall program each year but we also lay out our must do’s, things we will not compromise on. These always get accomplished and if we also do some of the other goals, that is wonderful. We celebrate what we have achieved rather than focus on what we were not able to do. Being 100% volunteer, we cannot do it all so we prioritize and focus on one or two improvements each year. Continuous improvement is one of our values – we just put our very practical hats on each year!
Advice you would give to someone who feels they don’t have the time because they work full-time.
I would say just give it a try. There is always time for the things that really matter to you. Taking the time to find what really matters, what is important to you and then finding the right organization may take some time. Once you find it though, the payback will be tenfold. Spending time with our students always brings joy and perspective to my life – no matter what I am going through, it is nothing compared to what some of our students face everyday. Knowing that I can make a small difference in their life and help them to see some of their dreams become their reality is why I am here – it is what fills the void that I felt from my professional life. I am now able to take all of the learning and best practices I learned from corporate and apply them to something that has deep meaning for me. I can always find/make the time to do that!
The very best way is to visit a session and see what we do. If you are interested in doing that, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities that do not require the Saturday commitment so reach out and take a chance on a deserving student!
To contact me directly, just email me at Tina@mindsmatterla.org