The Dodge Q&A series is designed to introduce you to Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation staff as they share what they’re learning and thinking about as they visit with nonprofits around the state. They’ll also reveal a few things about themselves you might not have known.
Today we talk to Kathleen Hofmann, Executive Assistant to the President & CEO.
What kind of stuff do you do at the Dodge Foundation?
I manage Chris Daggett’s schedule and everything that entails, including his calendar, many of his calls and emails and travel arrangements. I also help prepare him for meetings by providing research, grant history, etc. Chris reads about four daily newspapers, but I also keep an eye out for articles in the news and social-sector publications that might be of interest.
In addition, I work with Chris to draft correspondence, with the whole staff to manage the Board Book process, and with trustees to arrange and take minutes at Board meetings and as an informal liaison.
How do you nurture creativity in your job and in your life?
Like so many people, I wish I allocated more time to pursue creative projects. But I do think that life can be lived creatively, no matter what the specific task at hand, if you keep learning and stay flexible. So in that way, I bring creativity to my job by being open to new experiences and solutions, by being flexible to change, and by learning all the time. One of the things I love about my position is that it offers me a broad view, across the whole organization, and I’m able to learn about all of the docket areas and make connections between various people, groups and subject areas.
At home, we always keep arts supplies in the house — self-hardening clay and carving tools, acrylic paints and brushes, various papers and cardboard — so that they’re easily accessible for low-stakes projects. Also, I love to cook and garden, so a lot of my creativity is expressed through those two activities.
What’s something interesting you have learned recently? How does it impact your work or thinking?
At work I enjoy learning about best practices in philanthropy and impact investment. Coming from a development background, I love thinking and learning about effective funding and governance of nonprofits. I’m also very interested in getting behind the inspirational story to learn about the specific steps and stages at work in successful social change.
How do you spend an average Saturday?
It very much depends on the season. My son and I are crazy about small farms, and he is an aspiring dairy farmer. For many years we spent a lot of time visiting Fosterfields Living Historical Farm here in Morristown, where Farmer Rob and his wife, Julie (recently retired), taught us both so much about Jersey cows and life on a family farm. I also have begun to volunteer with America’s-Grow-a-Row in Pittstown, which grows fresh produce and runs many programs to bring fresh produce to under-served communities. We also spend a lot of time at the beach or sailing with my parents in the summer. In the winter we tend to focus on the city — poring through a favorite bookstore and going to museums, concerts and the zoo.
What’s your favorite vegetable, and how do you most enjoy eating it?
Really, any roasted vegetable is right up my alley. Roasted cauliflower is a current favorite, as well as roasted root vegetables. As with our Saturdays, it’s very seasonal. In the summer, the tomatoes and herbs from our roof garden at Dodge are delicious.