Member Spotlight: g3 President Lilah O'Brien
We interviewed Girls Giving Grants President Lilah O'Brien to understand her philanthropic journey with g3. In the process, we learned Lilah's insights on the upcoming g3 year, what it's like to work during the pandemic, and what she has gained from the g3 experience.
As g3 is actively recruiting new members for the 2021-2022 year, Lilah's feedback may inspire others to join Girls Giving Grants! Please share this blog link with potential g3 members.
How long have you been a member of g3?
I have been active in g3 since eighth grade; I joined because my sister had really enjoyed g3 when she was a member. Now I am a senior in high school at LASA [Liberal Arts and Science Academy in AISD].
What leadership roles have you had in g3?
In 10th grade, I served as an Application Review Committee (ARC) vice chair, which was my first leadership role. I also got to serve with Ava, who would become the g3 president before me, and I really look up to her; she’s been a great influence. Last year, I chaired an ARC and took on more responsibility. My group reviewed plenty of grants together, including the Center for Survivors of Torture’s digital equity project, which ended up receiving g3’s 2021 grant. I also served as the Education Chair that year. I collaborated with board members and advisors and to help organize presentations and meeting material. I really enjoyed this job because it let me work with my creative side in organizing presentations. Because of my experience in past leadership roles and with the impact g3 makes, I wanted to become g3’s next President. I look up to those that have had the job before me, and to those I am serving (in g3 and in the Austin community) this year.
This will be your second g3 year under the global pandemic. How has the experience changed - and improved or suffered - since before COVID?
The organization has changed in many ways since COVID, but most of all, we have learned from it. For example, having online meetings has made things more accessible to people who weren’t able to drive to meetings, and breakout rooms have been efficient for small group collaboration. Yet, it was much more difficult to get everyone’s fully-engaged input when we all had the ability to turn off our cameras and audio. The quality of our meetings has suffered compared to when we’re all together. In the coming year, we are going to try balancing meeting virtually and in-person, hopefully meshing what worked best with both systems. This year, g3 is moving to a new location, the Sadler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy, which will provide us with much more space for productive in-person meetings and be more accessible to our members. [Read more about the partnership with Sadler Means YWLA here.]
What have you enjoyed most about the g3 experience?
I have enjoyed my whole experience with g3, from working with nonprofits to learning about the grant process. I have met some incredible people from whom I have learned a lot that I will carry with me into the future. In working through the grant process, I have been able to draw on my creative strengths; my favorite part of the year is crafting a presentation for our semifinalist grants. I always enjoy designing a slideshow to best highlight the organizations, and helping everyone get involved in presenting.
What skills or insights will stay with you after your g3 service ends?
G3 has taught me a lot about philanthropy and being a good leader. When I first joined, I knew nothing about the grant approval process. Now I understand more than nearly anyone else I know. Because our members are so young, you might think that our review processes are the just a simplified version of a adults philanthropy, but g3 doesn’t dumb anything down for us. I learned how to think critically and how best to aid the community. G3 has also taught me to become a good leader as I define and continue to hone my skills. As part of our leadership meeting, we classify ourselves into groups based on our leadership types. From there, we learn both our strengths as leaders, and areas we can improve. I am a cooperative leader, someone who is generally thoughtful and people-oriented, but sometimes conflict-shy. Through g3, I have learned to recognize both my strengths and my challenges to become a better leader.
Girls Giving Grants welcomes new members in grades 8-12 through September 24, 2021.
Learn more about g3 on our website: https://www.impactaustin.org/girls-giving-grants