Inside 16th & L is our bi-weekly 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 Carolyn Mollen, our chief financial officer.
Carolyn’s role in a nutshell
My role is more jack of all trades than Chief Financial Officer. I oversee HR, IT, operations, and the building we work in and own, which helped me learn a whole bunch about property management that I never knew before. I have also been spending a lot of time this year, and last year, working on our organizational design and trying to help lead a movement to change our culture.
Carolyn is a…
• Yoga lover
• Star Wars and board game enthusiast
Hometown and alma maters
I was actually born in the District of Columbia, but my hometown is Annandale, VA in the suburbs. For alma maters, I like to say I’ve done the tour of Virginia schools: I got my undergrad degree from William and Mary, my certificate in accounting from University of Virginia, and my Master’s in public administration from George Mason.
What’s one thing about you that would surprise people?
Most people—being that I’m a CPA—would not guess that my major in college was theatre. I did not take an accounting class until I was working at a nonprofit regional theatre in DC and a job opened up in the accounts payable department. They offered it to me, and I took it and started taking accounting classes at night. I ended up switching careers when I realized that I had a talent for accounting. I felt that it was simply a way to serve the arts, though different than I had anticipated when I was at William and Mary.
What’s your most memorable experience from your time at IS?
My most memorable experience was from, gosh, I think 2013? I’ve been here for a while! I went to my first IS conference in New York, and it was an amazing experience. What was an especially enjoyable experience was the train ride back, where 75% of the IS staff were in the same train car. I’ve never had so much fun, nor felt like a train ride had gone by so quickly, than when I was celebrating and relaxing and enjoying the company of all of my colleagues after a very successful conference.
If talent and resources were irrelevant and there were no risks, would you pursue an alternative occupation?
I have always had a fantasy—and still do—of living somewhere tropical and opening a gift shop/pancake house/bar. I love pancakes probably more than any food in the world and firmly believe they are suitable for any meal of the day (and they pair well with a good drink!). I’ve also always really loved the idea of curating really cool things that don’t often go together, so that combination has always seemed like it would be awesome.
What’s your favorite animal?
If you had asked me many years ago, I would’ve told you my favorite animal is the manatee. In second grade I wrote a report on them, which I still have. I also had a really great experience in Florida some years ago where I got to swim near a manatee. But now, foxes are my favorite. I have foxes that live near my house, and my daughter Penny at one point decided that the fox was our family mascot, so we have all sorts of fox stuff. Since Penny and I have kind of bonded over foxes and fox things, that’s my new favorite animal.
What is your favorite place in DC?
My very favorite—and I’ve lived here my whole life and still nothing compares to it—is walking around the monuments at night. I don’t have a favorite monument in particular, but I really love walking from the Lincoln through the WWII and up to the Washington Monument, plus all the smaller monuments that are on the sides as you pass. That whole area of the National Mall is my favorite part of the city.