HELLO COLLEAGUES AND friends, I am Aaron Hernandez, TSAE’s Education and Events Director. While I know many of you after ten years of Learn@Lunches, New Ideas Conferences, Leadership cohorts, and conversations about earning your CAE, there are many of you I don’t know.
Some of you just joined our community; others maybe haven’t served on one of our event planning task forces or been volunteered to speak at one of our events. (Don’t worry. I’ll get around to you.)
My role requires me to be creative, methodical, intentional, and curious. I’m grateful for the opportunity to use these traits and skills to support the nonprofits – a community which made an impression on me since I volunteered as a small child.
At home, my creativity takes shape in arts and crafts (including an annual Halloween craft), riffing on recipes, but foremost, in the continuation of my passion for writing and storytelling. From essays, writing prompts, journal entries and the victorious final drafts of chapters to an ongoing memoir, I find clarity and meaning in words and the often- overlooked power they have.
Professionally, I’ve committed to strengthening my methodical muscle over the years, and after twenty years of developing training, managing community volunteers for service projects, planning events from conception to execution, and dealing with the most impactful disruption in our industry in 2020, I think I got it. At home, my love for process manifests itself in perfecting pie crusts – a love I attribute to my maternal grandmother who never opened a box of ready-made anything in her life.
When you study writing and rhetoric in college you talk a lot about audience and purpose. A lot. These two elements – without fail – can hinder any conversation, speech, sales meeting, or education session if miscalculated. Purpose is a constant thought in my life. Why are we doing this? Why are we doing it this way? What is the goal? Professionally, being trained to ask why in most situations can be great for innovation and strategy (but might get you some dirty looks for playing devil’s advocate). Personally, asking people why has always led to the best conversations and opportunities for connections.
Which leads me to curiosity. I’m curious about a lot of things, but I definitely lean into certain areas. I’m drawn to the complexities of motivation. What makes leaders effective? How do you grow staff into leaders and the best collaborators? What environments make networking conducive (even to an introvert like me)?
Personally, my curiosity fuels my love for books. From eye-opening, morbid memoirs by former crematory workers (Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty), to heart-warming cross-generational stories (Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (as Told to Me) Story by Bess Kalb), to the pile of books marked Want to Read on my Goodreads account, learning about others’ challenges and successes and what connects me to them has always been at my core.
For those I’ve grown professionally with, I hope next time we see one another we can catch up on all of life’s whys. For those I haven’t had the opportunity to engage with, I hope you will find your space here. There is a supportive, insightful, and welcoming community that forces me to stretch my creativity, strengthens attention to detail and purpose, and continues to nurture my curiosity.