Almost Full Circle

Andrew Shearn has recently joined the Joseph Maley Foundation Board of Directors, a role that is beginning to bring him full circle since his days on the Junior Board.  Andrew shares his goals and favorite memory of JMF in our most recent interview.

You’ve been a part of the Joseph Maley Foundation family for a very long time. Can you talk a bit about what this long-term involvement has meant to you personally?

It’s been nice to have been with something from the start and watch it grow from humble origins to the large organization it is now. To take a simple concept of “serving children of all abilities” and turn it into such a successful identity is quite the accomplishment for JMF, and it’s encouraging to know that I have played at least some role in its growth. It’s a mission that everyone can stand behind, and as I mature in my career, obtaining more resources and life experience, I’m excited to see how my involvement can develop.

How have you seen JMF change over the years?

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of positive growth of JMF. It’s not easy to take a non-profit foundation and keep it alive in a sea of other competitive organizations. JMF has not only survived, but thrived as well.  I am happy that JMF has rooted itself in the Indianapolis area and is continuing to expand. With all of the programs that have been added since the few in the very beginning, I think this growth is for the better and there hasn’t really been any change for the worse.

You were one of the founding members of the JMF Junior Board. Can you talk a little bit about the formation process of the Junior Board? What goals do you have for the current Junior Board?

At the time the Junior Board was first founded, I think most of the members were personally connected to the Maley family. It was a way for a younger generation to get involved in the new undertaking that was JMF and become a part of something that wasn’t school, sports, or other extracurriculars. For many of us, it was probably our first introduction to organized volunteer work, and really helped familiarize us with not only directly serving others through volunteer efforts, but also supporting a service-based organization through fundraising efforts. At the beginning, I don’t think I had any long term goals for the Junior Board, being so new to it, but I knew that I wanted to be a part of something that meant a lot to my closest friend (Tony Maley) and the family that I had come to know so well. From there, the focus eventually shifted from “doing something with a friend” to “doing something for a cause.”

You are taking on a new role as a Board member. Does your membership feel like it’s all come full circle?

At this point I don’t think I can say it’s come full circle yet. There’s still so much more room for me to be an influencing individual as a board member, and I have yet to truly make the most of this position. Once I’ve spent some more time with the board and discern how I can add to the mission, I think I’ll have better perspective on this. As far as being asked to join the board, it has truly been an honor. JMF has always been something I’ve wanted to stay involved with during my career, and though I’m not in the working world just yet, I am happy to be involved at this stage so that in the future I will be able to contribute in ways I just can’t while I’m in school. Serving on the board will lay a strong foundation for involvement and direction going forward.

What goals, hopes, and aspirations do you have in this role?

I want to be able to contribute to the future and expansion of JMF with my involvement on the board. Not only do I hope to learn more about the administrative side of running a foundation, but I want to take advantage of the opportunity to hear the perspectives of other board members and how these perspectives influence their decisions both with regards to JMF and their daily lives. I’ve spent much of my life under the direction of various boards and groups, but haven’t really cooperated with one to be that decision maker. If, as a board, we can bring just one new thing to JMF to grow it even more, I will be happy. It’s a small goal, but for me it’s where I’d like to start.

What challenges do you expect to face? How do you expect to overcome them?

As I was just explaining, I’ve never really worked in this type of leadership role before. I have worked for and with many groups, but I have never been in such a role where there is this much potential for influence. I think my biggest challenge will be not refraining from sharing my opinion if I have one, understanding that I may not always agree with others. It will be these times of disagreement where I will be challenged the most to actually speak up. However, I expect this to get easier with time as I not only become more familiar with the operations of JMF as an organization but also with the board members themselves.

How has your involvement in JMF impacted your academic/professional life, if at all?

JMF has only had a positive impact on my academic life, as people I come across are always interested in hearing what it’s about and how I’m involved in it. What I will say is that inversely, my academic life is what impacts my involvement with JMF. Medical school keeps me very busy, and it is hard to be as involved as a volunteer or financially contributing member as much as I would like to. This is why I’m eager to carry JMF forward with me into my career, when these roadblocks won’t be quite so obstructive.

What’s your favorite JMF story?

When the Junior Board first started their service day at Camp Riley at Bradford Woods, I don’t think the camp staff were expecting us to bring the number of people or amount of effort that we did. I remember completing more projects than they had planned for us to finish, and that at times they were even looking to come up with more work for us to do. I was not only impressed with the efforts that we had been able to put forth, but also happy that the camp staff genuinely appreciated the service that we were doing. We were happy, the staff were happy, and the groups of campers we happened to cross paths with were also happy. It was great to be a part of something that made others happy, especially knowing that we weren’t doing it for anything in return.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Nothing other than that I am looking forward to my new involvement with JMF as a board member, and excited to see where JMF is headed!

Interviewed by Gino Maley

Loyola Chicago University

Joseph Maley Foundation Board of Directors