Inside 16th & L is our blog series showcasing the Independent Sector team here at the corner of 16th and L Streets in Washington, DC. Find out who we are, where we’re from, what we do, and what drives us. This week, Inside 16th & L introduces Katie Jones, our director, sector advancement and convenings.
Katie’s role in a nutshell…
My specialty is taking conceptual projects and putting structure around them to bring it to fruition. In the past, my projects have included the NGen program, our body of work around the grantee-funder power dynamic. Now I am working on Upswell and our new sector narrative body of work.
Katie is a…
• Bravo TV aficionado
Hometown and alma mater
My hometown is Sparta, New Jersey, which is in the uppermost part of New Jersey, basically where New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania come together. For alma maters, I went to James Madison University for my undergrad (go Dukes), and University of Pennsylvania for my masters.
How did you end up in your current role at IS? What were you doing before?
I am a boomerang to Independent Sector. I previously worked at IS from 2009 to 2013, IS was actually my first job out of graduate school. I left to become chief of staff of operations at a foundation, and then IS recruited me back in 2016.
What do you like about the sector you work in?
I like that the solutions are not prescribed. In between when I finished undergrad and before I went to grad school, I worked across different sectors and at different scales – I worked on political campaigns, for small businesses, for publicly traded companies. And I always felt in those places the solutions were very prescribed. When you ran a campaign, it was always, “Okay, we’re going to do mail on these three issues, and we’re going to go to these three town halls.” Or when I worked in for-profit: “We’re going to position this company for acquisition by doing X or for growth by doing Y.” All the options were already charted, and I didn’t find it very interesting. So, in the nonprofit sector—the social change sector—it seems like all options are on the table, which makes solutions far more interesting.
If talent and resources were irrelevant, and there were no risks, what alternative occupation would you pursue?
I would be a fashion designer. I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer since I was little. I’m still incredibly fascinated by the ability to create. [Fashion is] “art that you wear, its art that you live in,” as they say in The Devil Wears Prada.
What’s your favorite place in the world? When is the last time you were there?
My favorite place in the world is actually Bethany Beach, Delaware. [My family] has gone for about five years. We generally go to the same location around the same time every year and I love it because I remember what my children were like exactly at that time the previous year. And I can really compare their growth year over year, to be like, “Wow, my daughter didn’t even like the sand last year, and now she’s obsessed with it.” It’s a way that I can very concretely see their growth, which I love.
What are your favorite places in DC?
I got engaged at the Tidal Basin and my favorite dates with my husband have been around that area with the cherry blossoms, so that’s my favorite.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Bravo. I am perennially in a mental space where I should be doing something else. You know: I should be sleeping. I should be making lunches. I should be doing something else…so the fact that I am sitting, focused on a Bravo show—it triggers guilt, but I can’t mind that much because I still tune in every week!
If you, like Katie, consider yourself a Bravo aficionado, check out her entertaining post for the Upswell blog tracing parallels between Vanderpump Rules and effective nonprofit leadership!