The blog

Connecting Dots to a Compassionate Career

August 5, 2015

By Ken Lutes |

Berkeley – Ever have one of those “a-ha” moments, when the light bulb goes off and your life is forever changed for the better?

Non-profit service organizations are often founded because of one person’s spontaneous revelation for a particular need. That idea then develops into an organization where individuals can turn their passion for the work they love into a rewarding (and paying!) opportunity. That’s the kind of experience that Jeff Pryor, co-founder and CEO of Pathfinder Solutions, would wish on everyone.

Pryor, a Berkeley resident, and team partner Alexandra Mitchell, co-founder and President of Pathfinder Solutions, wrote “Compassionate Careers: Making a Living by Making a Difference,” released this past March. The book serves as a corollary to the work of Pathfinder Solutions, a north Denver non-profit research and advisory firm that helps people find their a-ha moments.

Pryor and Mitchell inspire individuals and organizations to discover satisfying careers that serve the common good.

Each chapter of the book serves to encourage individuals to examine their potential for finding a path toward working in a non-profit environment. Pryor says that the final chapter contains exercises that allow an individual to create their own plan for the type of work they’d like to do.

“Both of us have worked with youth and we realized that the vast majority of people want to lead a meaningful life and make a contribution to the world, but so many don’t have a plan. What we found was if we considered connecting the dots between passion, skills, and opportunity, people could participate more deliberately, whether as a volunteer, a staff member or a board member, to roll up their sleeves and get involved,” Pryor said.

People can be inspired to work for cause-related organizations by someone they admire, but it may not be as easy to identify inspiring role models as it once was. Pryor relates the time when Mitchell asked a group of young people to identify iconic social, environmental, and arts figures.

“They named people like Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King, and after she went around the room, she asked what was in common with all the people they named, and the students were a little befuddled by that, and they said, ‘Good People?’ And she said, ‘Of course, but they’re all dead. Can you name someone who’s alive?’ The same room could identify Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton and celebrities, but where was it that young people could find someone who was contemporary, closer to their age, that they looked up to and admired, and had an aspiration to be?”

A significant portion of “Compassionate Careers” highlights not only cause-focused testimonies by such luminaries as Bill Clinton, Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, and Carlos Santana, but scores of less famous, yet equally fabulous everyday heroes—people in their 20’s who are doing remarkable things. Pryor cites the recent example of women winning the World Cup.

“I looked at the faces of 10-, 11-, and 12-year-old girls who were just awe-inspired, to see the potential, if you applied yourself and worked hard.”

People may carry the misconception that working for a non-profit means…

Read the rest at the North Denver Tribune.

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