Partner Profile: Mary Bright
Partner Profile: Mary Bright
This month’s Partner Profile features Mary Bright, a long-time CSVP partner along with her husband, Jim. Mary is a retired attorney who has contributed her time and expertise to nearly all of CSVP’s programs and efforts, including leading two Investee engagements (Youth Opportunities Unlimited and E CITY), coordinating educational programming, contributing and serving on both CSVP’s Board of Directors as well as the Board of Social Venture Partners International as its 2008-2009 President. Her vast experience contributed significantly to CSVP’s strategic planning insights made in 2010.
We talked to Mary about her experience as a partner, and to understand what she’s gained from eight years of partnership in CSVP.
Q: You’ve mentioned before how SVP’s founders focused on making positive change in nonprofits, and developing its members into thoughtful personal philanthropists was an unintended, but welcome, outcome. What has that result meant to you, and is there anything in your experience that illustrates it?
A: I was originally attracted to the SVP model because of its businesslike approach to assisting nonprofits, and I still believe that the model’s disciplined selection of investees, its clearly defined scope of work with investees and its process for evaluating progress make it the best way to be engaged in philanthropy that produces results. However, there have been some unexpected benefits for me as well. Through CSVP, I’ve been able to develop friendships with others who share the desire to be active givers; it’s been very different from my experience in traditional philanthropy. I’ve learned new professional skills from my partners by observing them as they interact with our investees. One of my Cleveland partners was responsible for connecting me to a nonprofit that focuses on a key passion of mine – homelessness.
Q: How has membership in CSVP personally affected you?
A: On a more personal level, the relationships I’ve formed with staff at our investees have been a great source of personal satisfaction and growth. I have a new perspective on the nonprofit sector and am able to take what I’ve learned to other nonprofits with which I work.
Q: How would you describe being a part of the SVP network, both as an individual and for CSVP as an organization?
A: My experiences in Cleveland have been greatly enhanced by forming friendships with and learning from partners in other cities, especially cities in which philanthropy is less well established. Cleveland’s long history in philanthropy is something we can be proud of, but exposure to the energy of new approaches is very exciting. The highlight was undoubtedly when, as part of a trip I’d planned to Japan, I was able to visit a homeless shelter and was asked to speak to a group of about 100 people assembled by SVP Tokyo, which is breaking new ground in trying to establish philanthropy in Japan.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share about your philanthropic work, with CSVP and beyond?
A: Greater exposure to the nonprofit world has made me a more willing giver of my time and attention to others.