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Fresh eyes on fundraising: Introducing our new VP of Development

This month, we welcome Lily Abood to Ecotrust.

Lily brings more than fifteen years of experience in resource development for social change organizations, most recently serving as Mercy Corps’ Director of Development where she helped catalyze the agency’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis. She is committed to building strategic partnerships for a brighter, stronger, and more resilient world, and we are thrilled that she has joined our team.

As a member of the Ecotrust family, you’ll be hearing more from Lily soon. We asked Lily to share a bit of her personal background to get the conversation started…

Where did you spend your childhood?
I was born in a cabin in a redwood forest in the Santa Cruz mountains, and grew up in California and Hawaii. My family spent a lot of time on the coast and in the mountains, and went on some wacky camping trips across the West. We would often visit our family home at Struggle Mountain (long story, but it’s the commune where my parents met in the Los Altos Hills above Palo Alto) and I loved wandering around the open spaces there among the ancient oak trees. My favorite places were the beaches and coves along West Cliff Drive. I grew up on a creek that flowed to the ocean, and I still always feel at home on the coast with the blue horizon line of the sea. It makes me feel big and little at the same time.

You’ve spent most of your career focused on global humanitarian challenges. What turned your attention to the work Ecotrust is doing here in the bioregion?
I once heard Portland described as an intentional community — and I think that’s really true. Whether you’re fifth-generation Oregonian, or brand-spanking new, I think there are many people in this community who lead intentional lives and care deeply about this special place, and I want that connection to be a stronger part of my daily work. I also see a lot of similarities between the work that I was doing internationally and the great work that Ecotrust is doing regionally. It’s really exciting to be part of a team creating and testing world-changing concepts and strategies right here at home.

Did you always know you wanted to be a fundraiser when you grew up?
I asked my mom this question, and she says that I am a natural born fundraiser. As a child, the youngest of three, I was very curious, creative, and inventive. As a school kid, I would set my goals with action plans and to-do lists, and I loved to negotiate. So, did I always know I wanted to be a fundraiser? Perhaps!

I care a lot about people, doing good work, transparency, accountability, and impact — all of which help me build bridges between funders and programs so we can co-create future accomplishments. I love what I do, and I care immensely about the people I work with and the changes we work toward.

What do you see as some of the most significant trends in philanthropy today?
Not a trend, but I think it’s really interesting to see conversations happening simultaneously about “effective altruism” through data-driven decision making, and the importance of trust and capacity building grants. Both conversations are advancing a beneficial dialogue and awareness about the power of how and where money flows into nonprofits.

You’ve had the chance to meet a number of Ecotrust board and donors. What have you observed about why people give to Ecotrust?
Ecotrust is courageous, pursuing uncharted pathways to change. I think that spirit of adventure and creativity resonates with a lot of our supporters. But one thing that stands out to me (and that I hope to change!), is that people like us a lot, and appreciate our building or the events we host or our programs, but don’t always step forward to support us financially. If you’re reading this — we want you to be a part of the family!

What is something people would be surprised to know about Ecotrust?
I’d actually like to turn this question on its head and hear from anyone reading this. I want to know what surprises and inspires people who are interested in what Ecotrust does. And I want them to get in touch with .

What makes Ecotrust different from other nonprofits you’ve worked for?
We have a really unique and dynamic blend of investments and capital projects that fuel our mission. And we align those investments with our values — and it’s working!

What are you reading right now?
Jamberry, Goodnight Moon, and Where the Wild Things Are to my two-year-old son, Otis.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Sweatpants.