June 02, 2022

POV: Making It Personal

By Jill Bennett

Can we get something straight right from the get-go? I would rather talk about you—what brings you happiness, your challenges, your work and hobbies, your pets, and anything else on your mind—than me. UNA exists to support the vital work you do to make our world a better place. And if that sounds like hyperbole, I assure you that it is not.

Your mission, whether it is nurturing children, families, people, trees, the Earth, democracy (voting), or the arts, impacts the lives of everyone in Utah and the missions of our entire nonprofit community.  

As crucial as our individual missions are, they become more critical, more essential, and more pressing when viewed as a whole. When one nonprofit helps someone transform from victim to survivor, that work protects our communities from the costs of intergenerational trauma. Less trauma means a healthier population, and healthy people are better equipped to obtain an education. Education correlates with income—which influences access to healthcare, and social stability. In turn, social stability reduces violence, and the circle continues. 

Apply that same logic to your nonprofit and we begin to see the depth of our interconnectedness. Let's look at the relationship between air pollution, poverty, health, and skin color. Air pollution increases the risk of respiratory infections, heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. People in low-income neighborhoods more keenly experience the effect of poor air quality than do people in more affluent neighborhoods, and since wealth is unequally distributed across race, people of color are more likely to suffer the immediate and longer-term consequences of poor air quality*. So, if your mission is clean air, intentionally or not, you’re also working toward lifting the economic viability of people in low-income neighborhoods. Your work does not occur in isolation.  

We are interconnected. My vision, as the incoming CEO of UNA, is to celebrate, reinforce, and enhance our relationships so that we can work together and take a breath knowing that we have each other's backs. And to do this, I want and need to hear from you. How can UNA and the nonprofit community support you and your mission? Your mission is our mission.

I’ll be in touch, and just so you know, I’ll keep up my side of the conversation—just because I’d prefer to talk about you doesn’t mean that I won’t talk. 

Here are a few must-knows about me, so that we can spend more time talking about you when we connect: 

Favorite Movie: I go back and forth between Fargo and No Country for Old Men. After witnessing the cruelest acts imaginable, Marge, a character in Fargo, can still find beauty in a desolate, snow-covered landscape. 

Book I'm Currently Reading: I am rereading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. It works on so many levels. It’s both completely contemporary and stuck firmly in the 1920’s 

My Family: I am married to my best friend, Frank. We moved to Utah in 2014, and fate was very kind. After living all over the United States, our two children relocated to Utah. We share our home with two of the most spoiled dogs in the world and wouldn’t have it any other way. 

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Favorite Spot on Earth: On a good day, it’s where I am in the moment. Other days, it would be in a forest of redwoods. 

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One Skill a Friend Has that I Don’t Have but Would Like to: I have a dear friend who uses language in interesting and unexpected ways. She’s a thoughtful and gifted communicator. In comparison, my word choices can too often feel like ham salad. 

Optimist or Pessimist?: Isn’t that obvious? I’ve been told that my love of dark—movies, stories, and literature—serves as contrast and lets me see the light. So, optimist. Absolutely. 


*According to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, “The typical White family has eight times the wealth of the typical Black family and five times the wealth of the typical Hispanic family.”