Eastman brings military experience to YWCA
Any nonprofit’s operations can benefit from some military precision, and that’s what the YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee is hoping for with the hiring of Marjorie Eastman as its first president and chief operating officer.
Eastman served for a decade as a U.S. Army intelligence officer and commander, including two combat deployments. She also logged time with Lockheed Martin Corp., and at The Mission Continues, a nonprofit veterans’ organization.
She holds degrees from the University of California and University of Denver/Josef Korbel School of International Studies, was a White House and FBI Honors Intern, and holds an MBA from Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management.
Q&A with Marjorie K. Eastman:
Q: I know a bit about your background, but can we visit your service and other career milestones?
A: I am a female veteran, one who served as a commander on the frontlines. I served two combat tours, one in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the other in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. My final duty was to lead more than 100 soldiers in Afghanistan to successfully fulfill their mission and safely return home.
When I reflect on that milestone, and other salient moments from my 10 years of post-9/11 service, I am honored that I was part of a groundbreaking generation of service members, what I refer to as my ‘Frontline Generation,’ who faced challenges head-on, charted new paths and transformed military norms.
Q: What got you interested in the nonprofit world in general, and the YWCA in particular?
A: Service is a force that gives us meaning. And it has been a continuous thread, a driving force, in my own life. I believe people want to feel like their life counts; that what we do has a positive impact.
When you work at a nonprofit, you serve. Day in and day out, your efforts help advance a social cause, and that’s powerful—that’s meaningful.The YWCA is a pioneer in that endeavor – offering the first domestic violence shelter in Nashville more than 30 years ago.
But also the legacy of launching inclusive initiatives like MEND, which empowers mentors to become positive role models for young men, and provides the tools young men need to mend our culture and end violence against women.
Q: What got you to Nashville?
A: The military brought my family to the Volunteer State.
Q: Nonprofits face a lot of challenges, from fundraising to volunteers, programming, and the list goes on. How do you address those challenges?
A: I am a product of the paradigm shift the intelligence community underwent after 9/11. I started my career with a generation of intelligence professionals who had the attitude that information is not something that should be held hostage on a need-to-know basis.
Instead, I learned to look at information from the starting point of whether it would help or benefit a person, or mission, if I did share. Therefore, I am wired to share, proactively communicate and drive operations with data.
“There’s actually a saying in the military, that intelligence drives operations. This concept is transferrable to every industry.
Q: What issues does the YWCA face in particular?
A: Of course, there are always external conditions which could do damage to the organization’s performance – especially an organization that depends on generous donations to cover the costs of our many programs. We know a tough economy means less charitable giving.
Yet, again, the YWCA has been forward leaning in trying to mitigate this impact by creating a bona fide social enterprise, 2616, which is an upscale resale boutique in East Nashville that generates revenue to help fund our much-needed community services.
Q: How do you find the nonprofit scene in Middle Tennessee compared to elsewhere?
A: The friends and connections I have made in Nashville and Middle Tennessee have only reinforced my belief that this community will rally and support one another.
I experienced this first-hand at Owen, when several classmates, faculty and staff threw me a baby shower during the first year of my MBA studies.
And, today, I marvel at the momentum the YWCA’s development team has created for the annual Spring Breakfast, which will be on Tuesday, April 7, at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel.
Nearly 1,000 local residents will attend this important fundraising event that reminds us, through the voices of the women we serve and the family members who love them, of the important mission and programs of the YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee.
To view the article on the Nashville Ledger website.