Staff Spotlight: Terry McCarron, VP of Program Services
This week we caught up with Terry McCarron, a 15 year staff member at BBBSMB. Terry is our VP of Program Services and an innovative leader within our agency. Learn more about Terry’s career at BBBSMB, what motivates him, and why his work is so impactful. Enjoy!
Having been at BBBS for 15 years, how has the agency evolved? How do you see the agency growing in the future?
When I first started, Youth Enrollment and Volunteer Enrollment were separate departments that often clashed with each other. Match Support staff came into the office and (literally) ripped a page out of a binder to get their ‘caseload’ for the day. We had a marketing strategy of walking around neighborhoods with postcards, sticking them in mailboxes. So the agency has evolved in too many ways to mention here. One of the things that I love about BBBSMB is that it looks critically at its practices and re-considers all the things we do. We’re much more effective today than we’ve ever been because of this organizational “growth mindset.”
When I look ahead, I can’t help but be excited about what the future holds. We have the tools and young talent to do some things that the BBBS network and mentoring community at large have never done before. The next big challenge ahead from a Program Services standpoint, will be creating meaning – for us and our constituents – from our new evaluation tools and developing proven strategies that helps our Bigs be as intentional as they can be.
You’ve worked in multiple roles while at BBBS- what have you gained the most from this?
I think the biggest thing I have learned is that every department is guided by a similar set of principles and ideals. Everyone is trying to do the most they can with what little resources they have. Not to get too poetic, but I think this is part of the struggle against injustice. There’s always more that can be done and, across all the departments, I see leaders and staff trying to reach a next level of performance for our kids and families despite limited capacity. It doesn’t always feel good to push ourselves beyond a comfort zone, but our role in society demands such; we stretch ourselves to serve every child we can and serve them well.
I’d also say that, having witnessed the habits of great employees over the years, it’s easier than you might think to be a contributor to the goals of other departments. Our stakeholders (of all kinds) want to see our mission succeed. Bigs, donors, families and ambassadors just need to be asked to consider “doing a little more,” and often times, they will expand their influence (and feel proud about it). All it takes is a staff member who is bold enough to call them to action.
What continues to motivate you every day at BBBS?
I am a proud alumni Big. My match was very difficult and did not have the happiest resolution and outcomes. Regardless, I “rode with” my Little to the end of our match and my experience was so deeply rewarding. Due to his hardship, I always see our work through the lens of social justice. The barriers to success were so overt in my Little’s life. I want to prepare future children with skills to overcome similar injustices.
I also think about my own girls. I want to be able to come home at the end of the day and say to them, “I do inglorious work but it makes the lives of others a little bit brighter and I am committed to ideals beyond my own self-interest and wealth.” That’s the example I want to set for them. My 5 year old already has started thinking about how she can use the money in her piggy bank to help other people. That’s priceless to me.
How have fellow coworkers in the organization been impactful in your career?
We know from all the studies we reference in our agency messaging that habits like empathy, courage, etc. are developed and maintained like a muscle, so it’s no coincidence that the people who work for BBBSMB also tend to be excellent friends, mentors, listeners, etc. For me, colleagues and I have shared something sacred because we work(ed) together at BBBSMB. These personalities in my life set a high bar for the treatment of others and I do my best to keep up with their examples.
Specific to professional growth, it has been incredible for me to be supervised by Wendy Foster and Nora Leary for the past 11+ years. They’ve taken the time to be honest with me and to help me develop as a future non-profit leader. I still have so much to learn from their examples and I am thankful to have such competent and supportive leaders to look up to.
On a typical day, what do you do at work? What is your favorite part?
My day-to-day will be changing a lot as the Salesforce project slows down. Most people know me as “the Salesforce guy,” but I have only being doing that for the last year and a half. I spent more than a decade leading teams in Program Services and had several jobs in Program Services and Marketing. Regardless, all my roles have involved problem solving and I love a good puzzle – like matching people or figuring out what to focus on in a Match Support (MS) call. On this, I am really excited to derive the learning that Salesforce provides on youth development. Developing better coaching and goals for our matches is the ultimate “ends” to this recent detour in my career.
Tell me about your background before coming to BBBSMB. Why were you attracted to BBBSMB as a place to work?
I left the Boston area, really for the first time, immediately after college and started teaching full time in a program similar to Teach for America called ACE that was run through the University of Notre Dame. I worked on and received a master’s degree in Education while teaching high school on the Florida Panhandle. I learned so much through this experience but realized that the classroom was not for me. I wanted to make a difference and, while teachers can have an amazing influence on kids, I did not like that some of my students were slipping through the cracks. It was hard to prepare content, add value to the entire class and also look after these students who, for reasons related to social determinants, were not at school to learn. I decided that I would return to Boston and find a job that focused on this particular segment of the student population and intended to address some of the social determinants to their healthy development. A friend worked at BBBSMB and told me to check it out. The rest is history.
When do you feel like you are making a difference while doing your job?
Whenever I shut up and start listening. I am also particularly proud to have been a part of the inception of campus-based mentoring along with my intern at the time – Erin Hynes, now our HR Business Partner! I remember that we had made 5-6 matches in the Franklin Field area over the three year period before our formal partnership with BHA and BC began. Now we quintuple that number served every year. I love campus-based specifically because pockets of our service territory are underserved because of structural and societal injustice. Giving a staff member a bus and some well-founded partners really helps BBBSMB exist outside these prohibitive elements.
What does it mean to work for BBBSMB?
Here’s a quote that I think about all the time: “I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, I am for those tiny, invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man’s pride.” – William James.
How would you describe the culture at BBBSMB?
I love the overarching culture at BBBSMB. Your peers and teammates are universally fun and inspiring people. Our work is guided by higher principles and our leaders/staff are brave enough to examine our agency and work really hard to strive to be better for our kids and families.
I will put out an all-call on the experience of being in the office / and in our virtual spaces. Since we’re now in our in/out of office era, I have noticed a quieter and less social office space. Culture is not handed down by grey haired dads like me so it would be great if everyone saw themselves as our cultural trendsetters and brought some vibrancy back to our team / environment. More ideas like Selfie Thursday please!
What advice would you give to someone who is considering coming to work for BBBSMB?
Obviously do it! BBBSMB is a great place to break into a human/social services non-profit. Future leaders are served well. We have spun off several non-profit leaders throughout Boston and beyond. My career (Melissa & Will [both Program Service Managers], many others too) is a signal to any aspiring non-profit leader. If you work hard, there will (over time) be a pathway to a leadership role. We do most of our promoting from within and take succession planning seriously.
Lastly, I think our organization works really hard to be inclusive of every voice in our programs. Sitting with parents and children and hearing out their motivations and desired outcomes, including ongoing conversations and evaluations with all parties throughout, is really costly and hard to do, but we stay committed to hearing all voices throughout. It’s not a perfect process, but our commitment to this ideal says something about what we value and how we see our constituents.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
I love to exercise, watch Liverpool and the Celtics, cookout and ride bikes with my girls.