We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Aids and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ryan, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
In the business of the nonprofit business it’s imperative that you make supporters believe in your organization, your mission, and you. If I were to follow this often used “advice” I would most likely never have the chance to deliver at all. I subscribe to deliver on what you promise and to make and retain believers, those promises must be substantial.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career really started in 2015 when I began working for The Greenway Foundation. Prior to that I didn’t know what it felt like to have a job that you were passionate about, that made you feel good at the end of the day, like you made a difference. The work of The Greenway Foundation impacts countless lives, many not even knowing that we exist, and that’s ok. Whether is the field trips and summer camps for elementary aged children, or the employment and volunteer opportunities for high schoolers, those that attend one of the many community events along the river, or the businesses and developments that are more desirable because the river is better. Being a part of an organization that can make those kinds of impacts is humbling. I guess what sets me apart from others is that I am lucky enough to work somewhere that makes me feel this way every day. I know many aren’t that lucky. When you’re able to go to work somewhere that you’re passionate about you can’t fail. Sure, you’ll make mistakes, decisions you may have done differently given the chance, but you can’t fail. Wen I stepped into the role of Development Coordinator in 2015 I was doing something I had never done. It was daunting. I was committed to learning as much as I could and continue that commitment to this day. I’ve learned many lessons but the biggest takeaway is go….do…make a difference. TGF’s Executive Director created a saying that we live by, MSH (Make Shit Happen) and that’s what we strive to do.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Only a week? That’s not nearly enough time! We’d have to go to Red Rocks. Hopefully we’d be lucky enough to catch a show but even if it’s just to show them that place. There’s nothing like it. The first restaurant I always take visitors to is City Grille, especially if they’ve never had green chile. City Grille has the best, try to change my mind. We would take a day to visit some of the many breweries in town. My favorites being Baere Brewing, Crooked Stave, and Our Mutual Friend (where we could grab some Owlbear Barbecue as well!) I would make sure to take them to Union Station and have a cocktail at the Cooper Lounge. The hardest part would be deciding which restaurant to eat at, there are so many great options in LoDo. We’d probably hop over to Dairy Block so we could all get what we want! Without a doubt, we would make time to visit Confluence Park, the birthplace of Denver. This place has become sort of sacred to me and I never miss an opportunity to share it. After that, we’re going to My Brother’s Bar, if you know you know, if you don’t, you should!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would not be where I am today in my life or my career without Jeff Shoemaker’s mentorship and belief in me. The first time I met Jeff was when I was interviewing for the Development Coordinator position at The Greenway Foundation. At the time, I had been working for Verizon Wireless for the previous 9 years and had zero nonprofit experience. Whatever happened in that interview, Jeff took a chance on me. From day one, Jeff has entrusted me to be a member of the team that represents the foundation his father founded over 45 years ago. Jeff has always encouraged me to “do no small things” and he lives that motto every day. He is always teaching but allows you to go out and do while always having your back. I must also dedicate this shout out to my wife, Faith. Her support in everything I do is unwavering. She encourages me to be myself but to never settle for less than my best. She is my partner, my rock, and my best friend.