Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Meredith Taylor (human development and family studies, ’14) currently resides in Nashville, where she is proud to lead the Nashville Ram Network, has a career that aligns her personal and professional passions, and raises her Bernedoodle puppy who is appropriately named, Dapper. Taylor enjoys trying new restaurants, traveling, and attending a good folk concert. Although she doesn’t make it to Colorado and campus as much as she would like, Fort Collins will always hold a special place in her heart and is where she credits her love for craft beer. To learn more about Taylor and her current position, read her interview below.
Describe your current position and some of the responsibilities that come with it.
I am the community relations manager for cityCURRENT, a privately funded catalyst with a mission to “power the GOOD” via positive media, events, and philanthropy. cityCURRENT is supported by corporate partners who have joined forces and funds to make a collective impact in their communities. As Community Relations Manager, it is my responsibility to strategically align cityCURRENT’s efforts to support nonprofits and philanthropic initiatives across our two markets in Memphis and Nashville. I serve as the lead on planning community-wide and corporate events such as volunteer days, nonprofit tours, Women in Business & Philanthropy Luncheons, and nonprofit board workshops, to name a few. I also get the opportunity to schedule nonprofits and community-driven organizations on cityCURRENT’s positive-oriented media channels such as our Radio Show, ChangeMakers podcast, and GOODworks video series. Lastly, in my role, I have the pleasure of taking the lead on the Nashville market’s external communications efforts through writing blogs, newspaper columns, press releases, and our beCURRENT newsletter.
How has COVID-19 changed operations for you organization, and how are you responding to it?
Events are a third of cityCURRENT’s model, which in response to COVID-19 has required us to adapt and adjust to hosting virtual environments through Zoom. What may seem like a disadvantage to some, has actually provided opportunities that we could not have foreseen until pivoting to this new way of connecting. We now record all of our webinars and are able to share these recordings across our social media channels and website to engage with a wider audience. Now that we’re not limited by physical space, a cap on how many people can tune into these events is practically nonexistent. As a company, we have always been adamant about eliminating any barriers to entry when it comes to attending our events, which is why we have always made them free. Hosting these events virtually has helped us continue to operate in that fashion on an even grander scale.
We have taken our other two pillars, positive media and philanthropy, and adjusted these to create a greater impact during this time as well. Our media outlets, such as our Radio Show, have previously been recorded in-studio and have now been converted to Zoom, which allows us the opportunity to record a video interview in addition to the audio. This is the same for our Changemakers Podcast where we share personal stories and insights through interviews with those who are giving back and making a difference.
One thing I kept hearing when the pandemic hit were cries from the community wanting to help, but not knowing how. This inspired me to begin interviewing nonprofit and community leaders via Zoom about their organizations, how they have had to adapt during this time, and how we could help come alongside their efforts. Sharing these interviews has encouraged viewers to recognize that they are not powerless and can still make a difference even amidst a pandemic. All this is to say that so much of cityCURRENT’s response to COVID-19 has been evaluating our resources and what we are already doing well and capitalizing on our strengths to expand our reach and make an even greater impact.
Why did you decide to pursue your current career path?
Service has played an instrumental role in my life and has been a passion of mine from a young age, so it only makes sense that it would take on an integral part of my career as well. It wasn’t until after college when I was working as a development professional for a nonprofit in Memphis that I became familiar with the field of Corporate Social Responsibility. Although I enjoyed cultivating individual donors, I found that my passion lay in strategically aligning businesses’ missions with the nonprofit’s to form a mutually beneficial relationship. When I discovered that there were people who had careers around helping businesses become better corporate citizens by putting their time, treasure, and talent toward monetizing impact and making a difference, I knew I had found my calling. I wholeheartedly believe in business as a force for good and am proud to be contributing to this burgeoning field.
How have your education and experiences at CSU helped you in your career?
Education-wise, I would say my major in human development and family studies gave me an understanding of the community as it relates to families, schools, and culture that I still utilize in my career today. My business minor also gave me a great foundation for when I would later obtain my MBA. However, the experiences that shaped me most career-wise were volunteering with organizations like Special Needs Swim and T.G.I.F. through the SLiCE office which continued to foster my pre-existing passion for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and contributed to me landing my first job out of college at Best Buddies Tennessee. Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my experience as a member of my sorority, Pi Beta Phi. Pi Phi instilled in me values that I carry with me today in addition to lifelong friendships and an extensive network of women who I have connected with both professionally and personally in every city I’ve lived in post-college.
Which faculty member in the College of Health and Human Sciences inspired you most?
There were so many faculty who contributed to my time at CSU in the College of Health and Human Sciences, but I would have to say the one that stands out to me the most was my academic adviser, Anne Van Arsdall [now leading CSU’s summer session as director of CSU Summer]. I took a unique path in undergrad by majoring in human development and family studies while being in the Elementary Education Cohort and pursuing a business minor. In order to complete all of my coursework in four years, I had to take summer courses often online or while I was home in Memphis. Anne was always there to support me in my academic pursuits and answer any questions I had along the way. With so many majors to choose from, academic advisers can play such a large role in guiding students in their career paths during college and beyond, which is why it is so critically important to have the ones like Anne, who truly cared.
What advice do you have for students looking for a full-time job in your field?
Relationships have been key to my professional success. With this being said, my advice for students looking for a full-time job in corporate social responsibility or any field is to begin networking and making connections with those in their desired career path as soon as possible. Never be afraid to ask someone for coffee or a phone call to pick their brain on their career. In my experience, nine times out of ten, the person on the other end has been flattered and more than happy to help. Always be sure to end each meeting by asking who else they can introduce you to that could help you learn more. This keeps the connections coming and will broaden your network. Just don’t forget to pay it forward when you’re asked to meet with someone in the future!