2020 Finalist Profile: Marla Taylor

Authentic, passionate, visionary, leader. These are just a few words used to describe Marla Taylor, one of our finalists for ELEVATE Board Member of the Year. Over the last four years, she’s done amazing work as a board member for Brooke’s Place For Grieving Young People, all while building her own nonprofit consulting business, Taylor Advising, at the same time.

Marla’s nominator had this to say about her impact:

“You only have to see the smile on a grieving child’s face on program night or the notes of appreciation we receive from families to know that Marla is impacting lives in Central Indiana. Marla’s servant leadership has been a catalyst in helping to open doors for Brooke’s Place, introducing us to key stakeholders and leaders in other community organizations. She has also utilized her strategic business skills to help us maneuver through some challenging board dynamics, and she has done so with tremendous professionalism, compassion, and focus on our mission. Brooke’s Place is so fortunate to have Marla’s passion, vision, and leadership in advancing our mission and support of grieving children.”

WOW. This beautiful endorsement certainly made us want to know more about Marla. Here are some excerpts from our chat.

Q: For those who might not be familiar, can you tell us more about the mission of Brooke’s Place?

A: Brooke’s Place is an organization that helps children who have lost a significant person in their life- like a parent, sibling or friend – to give them the support that they need so they aren’t feeling alone during one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. I know talking about death and grief sounds depressing but I think Brooke’s Place is one of the most joyful places I’ve ever been. Being able to see the kids be together with others like them so they aren’t feeling alone is pretty special.

Q: How did you get connected to Brooke’s Place?

My involvement with Brooke’s Place was prompted by my own grief story. When I was 11-years-old, my mom and I were in a car accident and she died. And that absolutely changed everything about my life. Then when I was in my 20s and my dad died – I felt like I was the 11-year-old girl all over again. I kind of serendipitously at that time in my life when I was trying to figure out what was next, and what I was going to do if I didn’t have parents to watch over me anymore, I found out about Brooke’s Place. Everything changed from there – I immediately thought what can I do to get involved, how do I learn more about this organization, and that I need to be apart of this.

Q: What’s your favorite memory (so far) from being apart of the Brooke’s Place family?

A: Last year was the 20th anniversary of Brooke’s Place, and all year we did a lot of things to celebrate that 20th birthday. But one of the things that was really cool was being able to reconnect with some of the founding board members.

These are the people who really sat around a table with an idea 20 years ago. And to reconnect with them, and hear their ideas and passions – they weren’t really sure where it was going to go – has grown into something where we now serve thousands of kids every year, with multiple locations, with consistent programming. That was really special to see the kind of legacy that they left.

Q: You are nominated in the Board Member of the Year category  – where should a young professional start, when they are looking to lend their voice to a nonprofit board?

A: Find a cause you care about, and reach out to their board and ask how you can get involved.

I think we are in an interesting time when it comes to young people serving on boards, particularly in our community there is so much conversation about inclusion, diversity, and I think that the traditional idea of who serves on a board is changing a lot. And now, many organizations are looking for young voices, with more diverse backgrounds – they want young people on their boards.

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