Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Shatila D. Sago-Hart! We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
My journey into the nonprofit sector and my passion for education have always been intertwined with my commitment to community development. It all began during my college years at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) when I started working as a tutor. This initial step ignited a profound love for education and community engagement that has guided my path ever since. As a college student, I was actively involved in the Black Student Union and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, where my dedication to community organizing deepened. This experience exposed me to the power of collective action and the transformative impact it can have on individuals and communities.
However, it was during my time studying in Kenya for a year that my passion for education and community development took on a global perspective. While there, I had the privilege of teaching and working with children at the Vision and Passion Orphanage and Fellowship Home. This experience opened my eyes to the universal importance of education as a catalyst for change and empowerment. Upon returning to the United States, I was confronted with the harsh reality that many nonprofits face: the perpetual challenge of securing adequate funding to sustain their vital work. This realization led me to embark on a quest to understand the business side of community development. This determination drove me to explore the intricate world of financial management, grants management, and business strategy, ultimately merging my passion for education with a keen understanding of the business aspects that underpin community development. My journey has been shaped by a commitment to education, community development, and the belief that education is not only a fundamental right but also a powerful force for positive change in our world.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career?
My inspiration to pursue my career was twofold: my peers and a deep understanding of the challenges that afflicted my community. First and foremost, my peers played a pivotal role in inspiring me. I was fortunate to be surrounded by individuals who were equally passionate about creating positive change in our community. Their dedication to various causes, their unwavering commitment, and their tireless efforts to uplift others ignited a fire within me. Witnessing their impact and the difference they were making in the lives of those around us motivated me to join them in this noble pursuit.
Secondly, my pursuit of this career was driven by a profound understanding of the issues and obstacles that plagued my community. I recognized the disparities in access to quality education and the profound impact it had on individuals and families. This awareness led me to believe that education was not just a personal passion but a powerful means to address systemic challenges and drive meaningful change.
In essence, it was the combination of witnessing the dedication of my peers and a deep-rooted understanding of the pressing issues in my community that served as the catalyst for my career path. These influences continue to fuel my commitment to education, community development, and the nonprofit sector to this day.
What is one thing you are proud of achieving in your life and career?
One of the proudest achievements in my life is creating a nurturing and inspirational environment for my children. Each of my children possesses their own distinct personalities and dreams, and I have dedicated myself to fostering an environment where they can fully explore and achieve their potential. It brings me immense pride and joy to see them grow, learn, and pursue their passions. Being able to provide them with the support, encouragement, and opportunities they need to follow their dreams is a source of deep fulfillment. Watching them develop into unique individuals and witnessing their journeys toward realizing their aspirations is a testament to the values I hold dear. Above all, the ability to create a loving and empowering space for my children to flourish is an accomplishment I cherish and hold dear in my life. Their growth and happiness are a constant source of inspiration and motivation for me.
What keeps you motivated? What maintains your passion for and commitment to the work you are doing?
What keeps me motivated is the belief that I can create a lasting impact on my community, one that extends beyond my own lifetime. The idea that the work I do today can positively influence the lives of others for generations to come is a powerful source of motivation. I am inherently a lifelong learner, constantly seeking to acquire new knowledge and insights. This drive for continuous personal and professional growth fuels my passion for the work I do. It allows me to adapt to changing circumstances, explore innovative solutions, and remain committed to making a meaningful difference. Moreover, my dedication is deeply rooted in my desire to be a better person for my family. I am driven by the aspiration to provide them with a brighter future, filled with opportunities and possibilities. Knowing that my efforts can contribute to their well-being and happiness serves as a constant reminder of why I remain committed to the work I am doing.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my downtime, I’ve got a bunch of things I enjoy doing. First off, I’m a space geek, so I’m all about watching documentaries on astronomy and the cosmos. But I’ve got a softer side too – romantic comedies are my guilty pleasure. Traveling with my family is a big deal for me; we love exploring new places and soaking up different cultures. When I want to stay informed, I tune in to NPR for the latest news and intriguing stories. And to chill out, there’s nothing like hopping on my boat with my hubby – it’s our little escape from the daily grind.
Tell about an amazing trip you took. Where did you go and what did you enjoy most?
One of the most incredible trips I’ve ever embarked on was my journey to India. I had the privilege of spending three awe-inspiring weeks on the subcontinent, exploring a diverse range of destinations. From the bustling streets of Mumbai to the serene beaches of Goa, each place had its own unique charm and experiences to offer. One of the absolute highlights of my trip was witnessing the breathtaking beauty of the Taj Mahal, a true architectural marvel that left me in awe. I also had the opportunity to explore the historic Pink City of Jaipur and its magnificent Agra Fort, both of which were steeped in rich cultural heritage. What made this trip truly memorable, though, was the time I spent with friends, creating cherished memories and having an absolute blast along the way. India’s vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality made it an unforgettable adventure that I hold dear.
Is there something exciting you are working on now? What is it and why did you choose to start it?
Currently, I’m diving into an exciting new business venture alongside a group of colleagues. Our focus is on providing professional development and professional coaching services to a wide spectrum of individuals, for-profit companies, and nonprofit organizations. The reason behind this venture is rooted in my desire to step out of my comfort zone and share my skills in a broader capacity. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for me to explore the world of for-profit endeavors, bringing a fresh perspective to my career journey.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? What is it and why did it resonate with you? emulate your success?
One book that had a profound impact on me is “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching” by Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on mindfulness, compassion, and understanding struck a deep chord. The book not only introduced me to the core teachings of Buddhism but also offered guidance on how to incorporate mindfulness and compassion into daily life. Thich Nhat Hanh’s emphasis on living in the present moment, cultivating inner peace, and extending kindness to all beings left a lasting impression on me. The message of interconnectedness and the idea that our actions have a ripple effect on the world resonated deeply. It encouraged me to be more mindful of my actions and their potential impact on others and the environment.
Why did you choose to be a Board Member of Educate. Radiate. Elevate.?
I chose to become a Board Member of Educate. Radiate. Elevate. (E.R.E.) because of my personal experiences in seeking tutors for my own children and my deep appreciation for the organization’s commitment to addressing education disparities. E.R.E.’s dedication to providing educational support with care and compassion deeply resonated with me. Having navigated the challenges of finding quality educational resources for my children, I understand the importance of organizations like E.R.E. in bridging the educational gap and ensuring that every student has access to the support they need to succeed. E.R.E.’s mission aligns closely with my own values and commitment to educational equity. By joining the board of E.R.E., I aim to contribute to the organization’s fiscal viability and overall sustainability. I firmly believe that their services are not only valuable but essential in our community. My goal is to leverage my expertise and experiences to support E.R.E.’s mission and help ensure that their vital work continues to make a meaningful impact on students’ lives.
What about Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values speak most to you, and why?
What resonates most with me about Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values is their unwavering commitment to educational equity and their holistic approach to addressing the diverse needs of students. The organization’s purpose of closing the educational gap and promoting success for all students is deeply meaningful to me. I firmly believe that education is a powerful equalizer, and ensuring that every student has the opportunity to thrive aligns with my own values and aspirations.