Mary Ellen Matsui is currently a consultant for Goodwill and sustainable fashion initiatives, based in Ontario, Canada. From 2011–21 she was the CEO at Atma, where she spearheaded the organisation’s growth and the creation of the Atma Network, a resource-sharing and collaboration platform. Mary Ellen is a nonprofit management specialist and regularly facilitates workshops for nonprofits on leadership, fundraising, culture, and HR. She is a graduate of the Telfer School of Management and a member of the inaugural Dasra Social Impact Leadership Programme. Mary Ellen is also on the advisory board of several education organisations.
“Coming from Canada, however, I didn’t have a strong support network initially. I had a lot of the wrong people around me, whose advice was less weighty than their egos. This created major distractions from the mission of our organisation. Trying to serve this mission, while also trying to keep operations functional, resulted in a confused set of performance standards for our people and the organisation.
I was holding myself and the people around me to the wrong standards. My time was spent trying to follow through on less than sound advice, reacting to donor requirements, feeling envious of other organisations’ team sizes, budgets, and scale plans, rather than reflecting on what my organisation needed and what we were doing with the resources we had (which were a lot).
All of this made me question myself. My self-confidence took a major slide and I ended up depressed and suffered from panic attacks. In this state of self-doubt, I wasn’t able to take the steps the organisation needed. I didn’t have the confidence to renegotiate deadlines with donors, and taking clear decisions on a branding revision became nearly impossible. I was totally drained.”
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