Maura Goldsberry is one of our newest Partners. She hails from Silicon Valley and has several degrees from Vassar College, Santa Clara University School of Law, and the University of Phoenix.
A professional do-gooder, Maura has a great nonprofit story:
By the time I finished by first year of law school, I knew that being a lawyer wasn’t for me. I loved the school part of law school, but not the lawyering part. So after finishing my degree, I ended up in corporate finance at Gateway Inc. Gateway had just been acquired by Acer and they needed someone in the finance department to research the tax implications of the acquisition. What started as a short-term opportunity lasted until the Gateway Campus was closed, and my responsibilities grew from straight research to managing the relationships between the parent entity and the various international subsidiaries. While my work at Gateway was legal-adjacent, I really enjoyed the concrete nature of finance, but after Gateway, I found it hard to find work in finance because companies wanted to put me in legal. So I decided to get a Master’s degree in accounting, but after spending some time at a Big 4 Accounting firm, I knew that wasn’t for me either.
By sheer luck, I had always been interested in computers and software and throughout the years had taken tons of classes, so when I was recruited to do database design and creation for corporate finance and legal departments, it felt like a great fit. Most database people are trained to maximize the efficiency of the actual database, but I understood how the information was going to be used and how the various departments needed it organized to maximize convenience and efficiency which turned out to be a valuable skill. I loved working on databases because it was so rewarding to see masses of information come together in a way that the information was useful rather than overwhelming or confusing.
After doing database work for a while, I ended up working at a red-light camera company. While all the companies I had worked for required a certain amount of ethical compromise, this particular company was a whole different beast and when I left, I vowed that never again would I let my skills and education be used to make the world a worse place. Not better was ok, but worse was off the table.
As someone who had always been inclined to volunteering but who had spent her entire life preparing to be a part of corporate America, when I left I decided that I was going to take a year to restore my faith in humanity by engaging in full time volunteering. I started testing out various organizations hoping that I would find my passion cause that would sustain me when I went back to the business world. I did find my passion, but I never went back to business.
It turned out that while many other people are passionate about a particular cause or issue, I wasn’t. I was passionate about enabling others to do their good work by taking some of the more organizational related items off their plate. I loved setting up programs, systems, and structures and by setting up things to maximize usability, convenience and efficiency from the beginning, I discovered that I could make a meaningful and long-lasting contribution to many organizations. The work I enjoy the most is still information organization (ie donor management, accounting systems, etc.) but I have also developed an interest in events and fundraising, probably because so much of a great event is the preparation and organization to ensure a smooth execution.
Since then, I have been working in the non-profit sector as a freelancer/consultant. I hesitate to use either term because consultant implies high-level advising and freelancing implies short term and transient. My little niche falls somewhere in between. I have served on boards, but in general, feel like I contribute more as a worker bee than as a governing bee. My strongest skill set is converting the big ideas into something do-able with specific and measurable milestones and benchmarks. I also enjoy the nitty gritty and the detail that boards frequently don’t get to see.
More from Maura:
- What led you to SVP? I was recruited by Jessica Gabry, a current SVP board member. But through my friendship with SVPAZ Founding Partner Lois Savage, I was already familiar with SVP. I greatly admire Lois and everything she has done for the community, and I would consider any cause/organization she was/is involved with.
- What do you most look forward to/hope to accomplish as a Partner? My goal as a partner is the same as my goal in life. I would like to be of value to my community and connect with like-minded people. I am also a “learning” addict, and SVP seems like the sort of organization where I will find opportunities to indulge in learning and where it will be a respected and valued trait.
- What’s your motto? I really have two:
I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
–Edward Everett Hale
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
- What’s your most marked characteristic? I try.
I am consistently looking for ways to improve (internally and externally) and trying new tweaks and modifications to see if a better result is possible. When things go wrong or an idea doesn’t work out, then I chalk it up to a learning experience, figure out where the issues occurred, and try again. I do this because I truly want to see people succeed and I have faith that with effort, commitment, and a team mentality, we can get them there.
- When and where are you happiest? Anywhere my dogs are or exploring different cultures.
- What’s on your bucket list? I don’t really have a bucket list.
- What four words would other people use to describe you? I did a similar exercise with some friends recently & here is what they came up with: Cynophist (dog-lover), Worker-Bee, Hostess-Extraordinaire, Whip-ass Smart. Totally cracked me up. I probably would have kept cynophist, and substituted introverted, well-educated, and dedicated, but I am going to go with their words. My words aren’t as entertaining.
Please join us in welcoming Maura!