RDF’s Communications Team Invests in Growth

RDF’s Communications Team Invests in Growth

The Raza Development Fund invests in its staff and is committed to our individual growth and success across the organization. A couple weeks ago, our Communications team enjoyed an in-person team building retreat to learn about our individual and collective strengths and how to use them for growth.

It was a time to take a step back and invest in our team, and in doing so, strengthen the overall organization. As we walked into our meeting space, we were met with the welcoming aromas of coffee and fruit set up with care so we could dive in and enjoy time connecting with each other.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is a success.” – Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Co.

Earlier this year, we came together. Our team doubled in size from two to four with the addition of Anne Medina-Doak, PR-Marketing-Digital Manager in February and myself (Rachel Jimenez, Social Media Specialist) in March.

With our inspiring team leaders, Monica Ballesteros, Communications Department Director, and Elvira Espinoza, Chief Communications Officer, we jumped right in to work together through project deadlines and creative brainstorms.

We already work great together, and for many companies this would be the extent of onboarding new employees and strengthening a growing team. However, it says a lot about our leadership and company to want to take it to the next level.

Growing Our Garden

Anne Medina-Doak, PR-Marketing-Digital Manager, works on her Clifton Strengths

Our retreat facilitators Armando Ruiz and Anastacia Europa from Espiritu Community Development Corporation helped remind us that in order to grow a garden, or a great team, we need proper conditions. We need to nurture our innate talents.

Prior to the retreat, we had read Discover Your Clifton Strengths – Strengths Finder 2.0 From Gallup. For over 40 years, Clifton’s research has helped many discover and develop their innate talents by focusing on natural traits instead of trying to fix areas of weakness. We each took an assessment to learn about our own unique top five strengths to get a better understanding of ourselves.

The next step though is to learn about each other.

While together, we dove into each of our strengths and learned how they can show up in our work as well as how they may be perceived by others both positively and negatively. They provide insight into how a person might communicate, or the types of projects and tasks he or she will excel in.

Each strength falls into one of four domains: strategic thinking, relationship building, influencing and executing.

Strategic Thinking: Individuals who are dominant in this area absorb and analyze information that can inform better decisions. They help teams consider what could be.

Relationship Building: Individuals who have the ability to build strong relationships and hold a team together.

Influencing: These individuals know how to take charge, speak up and make sure the team is heard.

Executing: Individuals who are dominant in this area know how to make things happen.

By gaining a fuller grasp of not only where we fell in these domains as individuals, but also as a collective team, we can better support each other as we move forward in future projects.

Extended Familia

But we didn’t stop there. Our Communications department has an extended support team of contractors, most who have worked with RDF for many years contributing their talents to make a positive difference in the communities we serve.

Gabriela Penrod, RDF’s Translator Consultant

Each member of our extended team joined us at the end of our strengths activity to share RDF projects they had worked on for the last year. It was a wonderful display of how we all had a piece or interaction with each other to create amazing communications pieces. Every video we do is produced and edited by Carla Salazar, with Spanish translation from Gabriela Penrod, the RDF logo created by Adriana Martinez-Toscano and may include additional photos from Phil Soto or design work from Jorge Palomares.

“I really enjoyed getting to meet all the new team members in person and brainstorming,” says Adriana Martinez-Toscano, RDF’s contract graphic designer for the last seven years. “I love working for an organization that provides so much well-being for the community that needs it most, it has the values that were instilled in my family since I was a child.”

Though we all often communicate regularly while working remotely, it has been some time since the team was in the same room together. And for myself, still fairly new to RDF, it was great to meet them all in-person for the first time.

It was a day to celebrate and acknowledge the value of our entire team’s talents and strengths. As the retreat ended, we all walked away with energy and motivation to continue with our future projects, overall growth journey and our commitment to the RDF mission.

It’s our passion for the work we do and our appreciation of each other that truly makes this a great team, and a great company to work with.

Rachel Jimenez

Rachel Jimenez serves in the RDF’s Communications Department as Social Media Specialist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Mass Communications from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Rachel has extensive experience supporting content marketing efforts for national and state non-profits, as well as small businesses.

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