Have a clear understanding of the board and how they work. Is your board a fundraising board or a governing board? Do you have sub committees? We believe board members should be active participants. If they are not active, a recommendation should be made for them to sit on the advisory board.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Charyn Harris & Grace Ann Blake, Co-Executive Directors of My Good.
Charyn Harris began her career at PepsiCo, as assistant to Dr. H. Naylor Fitzhugh, who is credited with creating the concept of target marketing. She went on to pursue a career as a musician and most notably was the only female keyboardist to tour with the iconic Barry White. With over 20 years in the nonprofit sector. Harris gained recognition directing the Berklee City Music Network partner site in Los Angeles and facilitated over 40 scholarships for aspiring musicians to attend Berklee, which is also her alma mater.
Grace Blake is from Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She is a music industry veteran, producer of two award winning PBS series (Front and Center and Speakeasy), and a long-time Director of Artist Relations at the Iridium music venue in New York City. Blake brings her valued relationships with industry professionals, managers, agents and artists to help develop My Good.
Thank you so much for doing this with us. Before we begin our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”?
Macy [Gray] is heavily committed to social justice and had already started creating video journals with a group of mothers who lost their children to police brutality before My Good officially launched. Gray had been growing quite a portfolio when we all witnessed the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and was compelled to do something. It was all she could talk about being a mother of three young adults. One thing she noted is that it could’ve been any of her three kids. As the civil unrest continued to unfold in front of us, she really wanted to put the wheels in motion and gave us the momentum to launch My Good. This happened around June 2020 and we soon found ourselves thrust into reality.
Can you tell us the story behind why you decided to start your non nonprofit?
Families that face this kind of trauma are of course unprepared. No one expects that their loved one will suddenly be robbed of their life, and quite often these families are in need of assistance for funeral expenses, legal fees and overall general support. Gray wanted to make sure that once the cameras go away these families are not left with the financial burden and mental anguish that are unbearable to endure, along with the memories.
Can you describe how you or your organization aims to make a significant social impact?
We aim to make an impact by: a) providing emergency funds, mental health resources & educational assistance to families who have lost a loved one to police brutality, b) providing a platform for community and law enforcement to have conversations that we hope will lead to solutions and c) providing educational resources and advocacy for mental health, health and wellness and areas related to our cause.
Without saying any names, can you share a story about an individual who was helped by your idea so far? We have a client who after the loss of her loved one experienced severe depression to the point where she was unable to maintain her home and her job. She ended up living out of her car. Once we heard of her plight, we were able to activate and help her find temporary housing. We are now connecting her with mental health resources and she is looking for employment so that once again she can stand on her own. Her confidence has been boosted 200% and she is extremely grateful. We are excited that she is feeling hopeful for the first time since the loss of her son..this means a lot to us.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
We strongly believe that the country needs to engage in more community conversations to gain a better understanding of working together. It is necessary for all sides to learn how to listen, be empathetic and come from a place of putting humanity first. We’d like to address that police departments and unions across the country are in need of reform and restructuring. We believe it would be prudent to ensure that the requirements of police candidates call for additional training hours and stricter educational requirements as well as spending more time in the communities they are policing as a volunteer. Historically, in many cities over the last 30–50 years, police officers lived in the communities they served and interacted with their neighbors/citizens on a regular basis. We knew their names and families. A few cities have already adopted this policy, however it would be important to return to some of these old fashioned values so that communities can learn how to value people, and police can also humanize the residents in various communities.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
That’s a great question. In our experience, leaders set the tone for the remainder of the body they are governing whether it is a country or a business. There is a trickle down effect that spills over to every aspect of your organization and our core values around leadership include ethical behavior, respect, integrity and compassion. A compassionate leader is committed to lifting their constituents and bolstering them as needed to ensure the vessel is being steered in the right direction.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 things a person should know before they decide to start a non profit”. Please share a story or example for each.
- Be realistic about your purpose, mission and vision.
- Be prepared to commit your time to building and executing your plan so that it is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART goals).
- Plan, plan, plan. If you fail to plan, plan to fail.
- Have a clear understanding of the board and how they work. Is your board a fundraising board or a governing board? Do you have sub committees? We believe board members should be active participants. If they are not active, a recommendation should be made for them to sit on the advisory board.
- Practice the art of saying “no.”
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world who you would like to talk to, to share the idea behind your non profit? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
We would love to connect with MacKenzie Scott.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson” Quote? How is that relevant to you in your life?
It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.
How can our readers follow you online?
Our website is www.mygood.org
We can be found on Instagram and/or Twitter
My Good: @mygooddotorg
Macy Gray: @macygray
Grace Ann Blake: @grace.a.blake
Charyn Harris: @charynharris
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your mission.