Anna Mullen

The Situation

Anna Mullen, the communications director of the National Farm to School Network, always felt like she was flying by the seat of her pants. “I wanted to carve out time to be strategic, forward-thinking, and realistic about how communications work can best serve the mission, vision, and priorities of my organization,” says Anna. “But I perpetually felt like a very busy and not CALM communications director.”

The Solution

The Communications Director Mentoring Program gave Anna the space to do that thinking, the resources to guide her through it, and the “thought partnership” to push her towards new ideas and approaches. “The month-to-month curriculum format of the Mentoring Program, with a ‘choose your own adventure’ approach to topics, was especially helpful. It gave me a structure to think about all of the essential aspects of my communications department and approaches,” says Anna.

Over the six-month program, Anna realized just how little time she had previously dedicated to thinking about her big-picture communications strategy and taking a long-picture view of the purpose and goals of communications work within her organization. “These things are just as important as the day-in and day-out project and content management I do, and yet this strategy time was always the first to go when things got busy,” says Anna.

She also enjoyed working with other communications directors in the Mentoring Program. “I greatly appreciated the peer networking that was facilitated through the program. We worked across many different nonprofit sectors, on different staff sizes, with different budgets and backgrounds.”

The Results

Anna is more confident than ever in her skills as a communications director after participating in the Mentoring Program. “Through the program, I was able to see what a great foundation I have under me, as well as ways that I can continue to strategically build on it. The access to resources, tools, templates, and trainings throughout the Mentoring Program were a major asset in helping me sharpen my skills and hone new ones,” says Anna. “I feel better equipped to tackle comms and marketing challenges head-on when I encounter them now.”

The Mentoring Program empowered Anna to trust her professional marketing knowledge and communications expertise and to lead from this place of confidence. “I’m looking forward to saying ‘Yes’ to more of the things that I know work and setting boundaries by saying ‘No’ to the things that overextend my capacity or exceed the scope of our goals,” says Anna.  “The Mentoring Program brought me back to understanding how putting in strategy time on the frontend helps mitigate those feelings of stress, busyness, and unorganized activity on the backend.”