What do you do when you realize you want to contribute more to your community in ways that are fulfilling and personally challenging? What do

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Matt Theodores (Psi Class) – Maine Boys to Men

posted on December 12th, 2016

matt-theodoresWhat do you do when you realize you want to contribute more to your community in ways that are fulfilling and personally challenging? What do you do when you know you need a change, but you don’t know how or where to start? For Lift360’s Leadership Intensive alum Matt Theodores, the answer was simple: start volunteering.

Having spent the better part of three decades working for large multinational corporations, Matt relished the occasional opportunities he had to participate in smaller community-oriented projects. Over time, he realized how much he craved that sense of connection and purpose in his daily life, so he began volunteering in the Portland area in his spare time. He specifically sought out organizations that focused on universal topics that are not comfortable or easily discussed. That’s how he ended up volunteering for Maine Boys to Men, an organization dedicated to reducing male violence through accountability and a greater understanding of socialized gender norms. After serving as a board member for Maine Boys to Men for a few years, Matt became the organization’s Executive Director in September 2014.

It was through his volunteering and community involvement that Matt first heard about Lift360. Shortly after taking the reins as the Executive Director, Matt brought one of Maine Boys to Men’s most pressing questions before a Springboard panel: How could they scale their school-based Reducing Sexism and Violence Program into a much larger and more visible program? He was pleasantly surprised by the Springboard process and the effective suggestions he received: “That process put a lot of really good ideas on the table in a short amount of time. Just bringing a group of diverse people together and being open to the input and having it be very well-facilitated by Carol, a lot of really good ideas surfaced. A lot of those validated things I had been thinking about, some of them [were] new ideas, but it reinforced for me that we weren’t going to do this alone.”

After the Springboard panel, Matt started to explore Lift360’s other offerings. He became a member of the Leadership Intensive’s Psi Class of 2015 and got to learn about collaborative leadership through direct experience: “How do you bring the right people together to tackle the right problems and take the complexity out of them so that you can make some short-term progress and ultimately drive toward a bigger vision? [The Leadership Intensive] was really well-structured to do that.” As a result of this program, Matt was able to develop a broader vision for Maine Boys to Men, a vision that includes developing stronger partnerships with other organizations, better leveraging program alumni, and thinking more deliberately about Maine’s most vulnerable and at-risk youth. By focusing on this broader vision, Maine Boys to Men has been able to increase its school outreach from just a few high schools per year in 2014 to more than 30 high schools and 25 middle schools by the end of the 2016-17 school year. Additional students from more than 80 schools have been reached through workshops at conferences. What amazing growth in under 3 years!

In addition to this tremendous outward growth, Matt has experienced an inward growth in the organization, too. Dealing with a fairly new board, he has relied upon the collaborative leadership skills he learned from Lift360: “A lot of the things that we covered in the Leadership Intensive were about relationships. [It is] really helpful in thinking about how you bring individuals together in a way that makes the whole team stronger.” He also credits the Leadership Intensive for much of his own growth with Maine Boys to Men over the past few years: “I think I probably moved faster because of the [Leadership Intensive] than I would have without it and probably made some better decisions.”

Ultimately, Matt recommends Lift360’s programs for everyone “involved with or interested in tackling seemingly impossible issues in the community,” since the programs unite people from all sectors and backgrounds to effect positive change. For more information on programs like Springboard and the Leadership Intensive, please visit Lift360’s website or call ­­­­­207.699.4490. And if you’re interested in supporting boys’ development and addressing issues of sexism, please contact Maine Boys to Men through their website or by calling 207.774.9994. Matt welcomes your support and assistance!

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