Serving our community is engrained into Amanda Andere’s DNA. As Executive Director of FACETS, adjunct professor of Nonprofit Management at George Mason University, and Board member of Reston Association, Nonprofit Roundtable and Chair of Nonprofit NoVA, Amanda shares just how she does it all in our Q&A below.
Helios HR: What’s important to you? What’s your passion?
Amanda Andere: I have a passion about preventing and ending homelessness. Many people think of homelessness and automatically think about Washington, DC and not our wealthy suburbs. I believe it’s so important to address access to affordable housing, health care, or providing people with the skills or jobs they need to support their families. I am passionate about not just charity, but change. By this I mean bringing different nonprofits together to impact change – partnership is important to what I believe in.
Helios HR: Can you tell us about FACETS?
Amanda Andere: FACETS works to open doors for parents, children and individuals to end poverty in Fairfax County. We work to prevent and end homelessness by helping people meet their emergency shelter, food, and medical needs, helping them gain safe, sustainable and permanent housing and working with them to end the cycle of poverty through educational, life skills and career counseling programs. We are very excited to celebrate our 25th anniversary this year. As we look forward to the next 25 years, we know that we need to do something different to address the new problems our clients face. I almost forgot to mention, FACETS was honored as Large Nonprofit of the Year at the Dulles Regional Chamber Gala this past Saturday!
Helios HR: You were also named Northern Virginian of the Year by Northern Virginia Magazine in 2012 for your outstanding leadership as well as your community commitment. What makes an outstanding leader?
Amanda Andere: I think it goes back to the first question you asked me – having a passion. There’s a difference between being a manager and a leader who’s passionate about what it is they are doing. Diversity, not just in terms of race or ethnicity, but gender, age, and background is so important when building your team. Whenever I’m looking for new talent, I try to hire someone who compliments my weaknesses. Having a diverse team makes such a difference in representing our whole community to impact and affect change.
Helios HR: You are incredibly active in your role as Executive Director, but also as an active board and committee member to a number of community organizations, serving as an adjunct professor at GMU and an ordained Deacon. How do you manage your time?
Amanda Andere: That’s probably the question I get asked the most. I don’t call it work/life balance, because work is a part of your life, I call it life balance. The issues that I’m working on are so important to me that while I have time on this life, I try to fill it up with things that matter. I really want to help people and make a change. Some of my best friendships have developed out of the work that I do because we have the same interests at heart.
Helios HR: What drives you ?
Amanda Andere: Faith in God and believing in giving back is a part of who I am. I have had a privileged life in Northern Virginia, but it wasn’t always that way. My parents were immigrants – my mother is from Jamaica and my father from Kenya, and when they came to the U.S. they had a lot of help. Whether it was inviting us over for a holiday dinner or guiding us through difficult times. My mother always reminded me that we had a lot of blessing and help from others along the way.
Helios HR: Do you have any advice for organizations or people who want to get more involved in their community?
Amanda Andere: I can’t point to one great need since I obviously have a bias of helping people who are in poverty or people who are homeless. Everyone needs to find their passion on what speaks to them in giving back. Don’t think you have to solve all of the world problems – it’s a collective effort. Maybe it’s doing something once a week and then engaging your family? Just take the first step in giving back part of your time and see where it leads you.
Helios HR: You are a partner of the 100k Homes initiative for Fairfax County and helped lead Registry Week. What story can you share that was the most impactful to you personally?
Amanda Andere: What first comes to mind are the many people we met who had lived in the woods for years who were working, but didn’t have a place to live. We were out from 4 – 7 AM and even at that time, a lot of people had already left for their day jobs. One man, who had built his own home in the woods, had already left for his job at Giant. You can see his house in this Washington Post article. He obviously had great skills to put together his home, but he needs help with resources and developing those skills – maybe in a career in construction. People who we found in the woods were sometimes the most isolated. People tend to think homeless people are drug addicts, alcoholics or have mental disabilities. A lot of people we found had physical disabilities and the desire to find jobs. It was really hard to sleep thinking about all the people I met that week. While I’ve done human service work for 10 years, it’s so different to go into their homes and really see what they are going through.