For a long time, I’ve been a person who least enjoyed classroom group projects. Personalities clash, no one wants to be first to “be themselves”, and everyone tends to share the same lets-just-get-this-over-with mentality. I’m glad to report, however, that the Philanthropy and Grant Making course has forever changed my perception of group projects! Thank you, fate, for matching me with the BEST GROUP EVER for the Students4Giving project! From day one, I knew I’d made the right decision in joining the Board and Staff Development board, and though some days it has been tough, my team mates never fail to encourage me to press on, keep smiling, and to trust the process. Excuse me while I brag on them. . .

Korio Masumoto: Our faithful board chair and fearless leader. He has not skipped a beat in ensuring that our group maintains a high level of organization, preparedness, professionalism, and a fun, yet focused family dynamic.  His knowledge of the CBO world, love for the Fresno community, and networking skills are something to be admired.

Evelyn Gonzalez: She brings a bubbliness to our group but makes sure to keep us in check during important meeting discussions. She’s not afraid to think outside of the box and has done a lot to help me maintain a positive attitude during this process.

Daniel Gonzalez (not related to Evelyn): So much wisdom and experience in such a young person! He has a knack for insight and is great at pointing out details the team sometimes miss. His previous involvement with Humanics and understanding of CBOs have been invaluable!

Peter Newel: Of our group members, Peter is the best at playing “devil’s advocate”. He always knows just the right questions to ask to get the group thinking from a different perspective when we’ve hit a roadblock in times of brainstorming or decision-making. He also has the most hearty and genuine laughs I’ve ever heard.

Nick Carbajal: I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who can so calmly yet effectively get their point across in a room of people competing for a voice, but Nick does this effortlessly! I appreciate his knowledge of the Fresno community and his dedication to learning with the intent to give back.

Patti Cortez: Patti is our businesswoman! If she says she’s going to do something, you’re guaranteed to have the task completed in excellence and in a timely manner. She has one of the warmest personalities but you better believe she’ll whip out the no-nonsense in a flash.

Nicandro Gutierrez: Nicandro has a solid understanding of the value of bringing people closer through a tasty batch of tacos (YUM!). When I think of generosity, I think of Nicandro. He has consistently offered his time and resources to ensure our group has what it needs and some.

Christian Farley: Christian is a never-drying fountain of ideas and suggestions! He’s big on fairness and ensuring that each member has an opportunity to offer input. I admire his community involvement and efforts to connect with key influencers despite having a busy schedule.

I believe we’ve had the ideal board. We’re a diverse team ethnically, academically and experientially, and represent a wide range of ages. Our unique combination of attributes has thankfully allowed us to work seamlessly together. We’ve enjoyed art together, shared yummy meals, participated intense and productive board debates, and have taken several opportunities to share our personal lives with each other. Our growth individually and as a board is undeniable. I can only hope to one day work with other boards and teams of this caliber. What we’ve had is something special, and I look forward to partnering with them in the future.

Thank you to Dr. Simmons for making all this possible!