Despite beginning her career in the corporate sector, Carolyn Nopar found her true calling in philanthropy when she reentered the workforce after taking some time off with her children. Now a veteran in the field, Carolyn has a broad range of expertise and demonstrated success at Habitat for Humanity, Enterprising Kitchen, Family Focus, YWCA Metro Chicago, and Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (Skills). Carolyn has also spent the last five years with Chicago Women in Philanthropy (CWIP) and was just recently elected Board Co-Chair.
The initial draw to CWIP was Carolyn’s desire to meet funders; however, she quickly found a welcoming space where she could meet people without an agenda, which lead to becoming much more involved over the past five years. Before her role as Co-Chair, Carolyn was a CWIP member, Board Director, Co-Chair of the Communications Committee and Chair of the Partnership Committee.
Within CWIP, and in her professional life, Carolyn is motivated by new ideas and finds implementing “out of the box” projects to be invigorating. She feels personally successful when using a lot of different skillsets to accomplish one goal, stretching herself (and those around her) to achieve the very best. An example of this is when Carolyn was hired to launch a social enterprise for Habitat for Humanity Northern Fox Valley. This project included conducting a feasibility study, writing a business plan, securing seed funding, finding a location, securing inventory and hiring staff. The ReStore opened in 2006 and provides a substantial stream of unrestrictive revenue that continues to this day.
With Carolyn’s passion for progress, it is no wonder the worst advice she could receive is “it has always been done that way.” Instead, Carolyn uses the following quote to guide her:
“Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”
It is this optimism that is required for success in the nonprofit field. When thinking ahead, Carolyn firmly believes it is the industry’s fragmented practices that will be the biggest challenge to overcome, but she looks forward to tackling these issues head-on. “Nonprofits need to work together better to avoid duplicating services in order to promote industry best practices. With the participant need increasing, and more and more limitations on public and private funding, the sector needs to come together to achieve success.”
And, this is what CWIP provides Carolyn – A space to think on a broader scale; to look at the whole ecosystem of a problem instead of the single issue. “It’s exciting to be a part of something that allows the time and space to look at the broader context. This makes me a better fundraiser and provides leadership development skills that can benefit anyone, seasoned professionals or those new to the field.”
To learn more about CWIP and how you can become involved, please visit www.cwiponline.org