By Jessica Thiel
Working for a nonprofit organization takes a special kind of passion and care. For many working in that profession, that can mean trading a larger paycheck for more fulfilling work, but Christina Singh, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sheboygan County, says that shouldn’t have to be the case.
“I think for a long time, there’s been this notion that we have to suffer in order to deliver on our mission and we don’t properly value ourselves,” she says.
One year into her tenure leading the Sheboygan nonprofit, Singh has made taking care of her staff a priority. Nonprofit professionals deserve access to career development opportunities, strong benefits and a living wage, she says. To begin to address that, Singh quickly set about establishing increased baseline hourly wages.
In addition to the organization’s leadership team, the nonprofit employs many part-time workers who work directly with children. A few years ago, the average earning for those workers was $8 an hour.
“We’re entrusting these people to care for our most precious resource, our children. We should be compensating them better than that,” Singh says.
Singh’s efforts caught the attention of her friend and former colleague, Marcy Keuler, who nominated Singh for Insight’s Women of Influence Awards in the Young Influencer category. She says Singh is working to elevate the way nonprofits value themselves and demonstrate that value to the community.
“Christina has put the organization on a path of growth and energized its mission. This is evidenced by the launch of two new sites, a focus on safety, increased collaborations and the creation of an impressive leadership team,” Keuler says.
Singh, who grew up in Chicago and started her career working for a nonprofit home health care agency, made her way to Sheboygan and worked for Kohler Co. for five years before returning to the nonprofit world. During her time at Kohler, she served on the Boys & Girls Clubs board. She says the experience prepared her well for taking on the leadership role when it became open.
“Coming into the organization, I had this bird’s eye view as a board member, and my goal was to really dig in and kind of triage to say, ‘What are some of the things we need to focus on and work on that can take us to the next level of service to our kids?’” she says.
In addition to reworking the organization’s pay structure, Singh has focused on the importance of child safety, putting in place new programs and trainings that emphasize that. She’s also restructured the leadership team and oversaw the Boys & Girls Clubs recent move from its 21-year home to two new sites that better position the nonprofit for growth.
Moving forward, Singh says she wants to continue to help the community see the value nonprofit organizations deliver and help people feel good about investing in the professionals who deliver that work.
“My people deliver life-changing services to kids,” she says.
Click here to watch Christina Singh’s acceptance speech.