I had heard about Beth's work for several years from nonprofit technology colleagues and seen her work online before meeting her in person at the 2004 Nonprofit Technology Conference in Philadelphia. I sat in on her training session and was captivated not only by her command of the material but her inviting, inclusive way of teaching. Like many people, most of my experiences with trainings had been the "sage on the stage" lecture that was never very entertaining or engaging. Beth's style has always been one that draws you in, invites you to participate actively in your learning and brings her good nature in as well.
At that same 2004 conference Beth gave my confidence a big boost. She attended the first session I had taught at a large national conference (prior to that most of my trainings were given in classrooms with no more than 30 folks from San Francisco Bay Area nonprofits, so this was a big step for me). I still remember after my session, Beth was one of the first folks to come up and she told me what a good job I had done. She especially appreciated my humor in answering some of the audience's questions and encouraged me to include more of that humor in my presentations. Coming from someone I respect and like so much, that encouragement went a long way to giving me confidence to continue focusing on being an educator. Not long after that I was asked to guest lecture at the University of San Francisco for their Masters of Nonprofit Administration degree program, where I later became adjunct faculty.
I have worked with Beth in many ways over the years, co-designing and co-leading workshops, working on committees, writing and consulting. Every time we work together, I learn something that helps me to improve my teaching methods, my writing or my consulting approach. Beth is so generous with her time and materials – as evidenced by her 447 slide presentations available on SlideShare – that there are few people I meet in the nonprofit sector who have not heard of her.
One of my favorite experiences with her was this year in Australia when we both taught Masterclass sessions before the Connecting Up conference. For the last segment of our classes, we brought the students together to share what they had learned with each other and had a walking debrief from the sessions along the beach boardwalk. So much fun – and educational!
I am grateful that the folks at the Packard Foundation will be honoring Beth next week for the work she has done both with their grantees and internally for the organization, showing the respect and love Beth has earned through her work there.
I hope you can join us for the online hangout and feel free to post reflections, insights or questions for Beth on Twitter using #TheBethEffect hashtag. See the event page and the details on the Google hangout page for more information.