February 16, 2023
We are excited to announce that after nearly three years at NIMC, our colleague Debbie Wilber has been promoted to Associate Director. Founder and Center Director Mark Joseph sat down with Debbie to talk about her time at NIMC and her unique style of leadership.
Mark: So Debbie, congrats on your promotion to Associate Director at NIMC. Hard to believe it's already been nearly three years for you at the center. Thinking back to June 2020, what did you find compelling about this position? And how have your expectations played out?
Debbie: Thanks, Mark. It's wild to remember starting a new position in the early days of the pandemic. So many things were compelling about the role. First and foremost, I love what NIMC is about. I'd spent the previous decade at an organization that provides services for families experiencing homelessness and helps them move into stable housing. I wanted to shift my focus to upstream efforts, with the hope of impacting systems so that people don't become homeless. NIMC's work to promote equity and social inclusion in communities aligns with that goal, as well as with my personal value of fostering belonging.
Second, I love that the role is designed so that I can both engage on projects, digging into the work that we do, and guide our internal organizational development, improving systems and processes.
Finally, I was genuinely excited to work with you and the rest of the NIMC team. As our team continues to grow, I am so honored to be part of such a talented, passionate, thoughtful, and hard-working group of people. I have learned so much and am grateful for the culture we've built together and the meaningful work we've done. I am so humbled to be part of an organization that is thinking about how to weave a healing-centered, anti-racist approach into how we live, how we collaborate with each other, and how we do our work.
Mark: That's so great to hear, Debbie, and you've become such a valued leader of our team at NIMC. In addition to your serious side, which helps keep us all on task, I especially appreciate your quirky sense of humor which helps keep things light and joyful. Where do you get your sense of humor and how do you think about the role of humor in organizational excellence and social change? And how about sharing a funny moment from your time at NIMC?
Debbie: Where do I get my sense of humor? Baby, I was born this way (cue Lady Gaga). But seriously, it's who I am and how I move through the world. I think joy and laughter create beautiful moments to connect with people, to bring them in, to create a space of belonging. Our work at NIMC, the world we live in, is intense, and we are witness to a lot of darkness. We spend a lot of time talking about the hard stuff and determining how we will take action. Humor and love are tools we can use to bring light into this critical work. When we as a team care deeply about each other, about our families and hobbies and interests, when we show up for each other in meaningful ways, we bring that connection and grounding to our work.
One NIMC humor highlight was playing games together at our holiday party last year. Your kids did an amazing job organizing some awesome games. I haven't laughed so hard in awhile.
Mark: That was indeed a memorable evening and so great that we could expand the NIMC family to include partners and loved ones. A final question for you, congrats again on this promotion. What are your aspirations for your own next phase of work with NIMC and what does this promotion signify for you personally?
Debbie: I'm excited to continue our internal conversations about how we can advance anti-racist approaches and practices individually, corporately, and in the work that we do with our partners. It is an honor to help shape what NIMC 2.0 will look and feel like as we seek to promote urban equity and inclusion, and to do so alongside our amazingly talented team.
I think a lot in my various roles — as a colleague, a parent, a friend — about what it means to be seen, to be valued, to be enough. There is a lot of woundedness when people don't experience those things. This promotion acknowledges that my efforts are seen and valued on our team, and that means so much to me. I'm really grateful and excited about the journey ahead.