The Deputy Director's role is essential in supporting both clients and staff. The IRC in NY will be saying farewell to our fantastic Deputy Director, Brenda. Brenda brought her previous experience in international development as a Foreign Service Officer and at IRC's Headquarters as Compliance Officer to the inaugural NY Deputy Director role in Fall 2019. Since then, Brenda has left a lasting impact at the NY office.
The Deputy Director's primary goal is to strengthen the capacity and impact of NY's programs in the Resettlement, Immigration, Economic Empowerment, and Education & Learning departments.
During her last days, the development team sat with Brenda to learn about her time at our office:
Brenda reflects: “It’s been a bitter-sweet transition for me. Before I depart, I am working to move forward on key projects to ensure the team is ready for the fall. In this role, it's been important for me to understand the HOW of programs and services. This ultimately connects to knowing WHAT team members require to thrive in their roles. From where I sit, I am able to see how and what all programs are doing and suggest, for example, how mental health programming can be integrated into immigration-related workshops. This really gave me an opportunity to work closely with colleagues on how we can integrate more of our programs to meet client needs and be more efficient as a whole."
Deconstructing the HOW is an important function of this role. Brenda illustrates the HOW nicely here and emphasizes the fact that there are many ways to achieve the same goal. With this lens, Brenda found it useful to adapt her management style to each team member to support them in the way they needed. In the process, she always reassured the team that every obstacle contains a solution to uncover.
Brenda elaborates... “It was important for me to leverage each team member's talent, skills, expertise, and lived experience to brainstorm solutions to whatever the challenge in front of us was. Our team is so adaptive and so responsive to client needs that it was easy to encourage new or different approaches understanding that if the outcome was not what they expected, they could always change course again”
This client-facing and trauma-informed lens helped Brenda close any gaps and connect the dots to support our programs' effectiveness and client impact.
The IRC in NY office will miss Brenda's enthusiastic energy and determination to advocate for clients and the team. She has been a champion of encouraging staff to identify where there is room to evolve and grow in their roles. Moreover, she supported the team in finding the balance between being there for clients whilst improving their program's performance. Brenda piloted administrative days, which allows staff to fully focus on their administrative tasks by going offline on a given day.
Brenda shares: “I loved being able to support clients through their resettlement journey. To know we are doing everything we can to set up clients for success has been so fulfilling. The NY office is exceptional because of my colleagues. Avi, our Executive Director, brings so much compassion and dedication to this work that was both grounding and amazing to watch in action. I will miss working with her and everyone else!"
She also left us with some advice...
“My advice for being a present leader is to be vulnerable, forth-coming, and self-reflective. Come in with a curious and learning mindset, and be open to different ways of achieving the same goal.”
With those remarks, The IRC in NY office will dearly miss Brenda and wish her the best in her next chapter.