Member Highlight: Maggie Afriyie (Program Associate, PATH Foundation)
Nearly every aspect of how foundations work and operate has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – managing interns is no exception to this rule.
At the PATH Foundation in Warrenton, Virginia, the challenge was amplified even more: the foundation’s internship program brought in not one intern, or two, but 14. The task of overseeing such a large group fell to one of the foundation’s newest staff members, Program Associate Maggie Afriyie.
PATH Foundation’s internship program is made up of two components: weekly group work and leadership development activities at the Foundation, plus an outside placement with local government or nonprofit organization that serves the community. Intern placements are focused on the foundation’s four priority areas: mental health, access to health, childhood wellness, and senior services.
Maggie said the process for taking the internship program online required plenty of coordination – with partner organizations, fellow staff members and, of course, the interns themselves.
“Initially, we reached out to our partners to ensure that they would still be able to host an intern in the new virtual format. Once we squared that away, we spoke with some of our staff on how we would educate the interns on PATH,” she said. “We were fortunate to have senior program officers at PATH that were able to present on our four focus areas to ensure proper education for the interns.”
While videoconferencing definitely played a big role, many interns still needed to do in-person work – emphasizing the challenges facing many community nonprofits operating in a pandemic.
“We utilized Zoom to host informational sessions where interns would learn more about the amazing partners we have and how those nonprofits help strengthen our community,” Maggie said. “Some interns were able to work in person but were required to use proper [personal protective equipment] at all times.”
Maggie herself was a PATH Foundation intern not long ago, in Fall 2019, and only joined the staff full-time in February, only weeks before the pandemic reached the United States. The timing allowed her to see up-close how philanthropy operates in a time of crisis.
“I’ve seen the extent that nonprofits, as well as family, community, and global foundations put into furthering their missions,” she said. “I was able to sit in on calls with local funders sharing information and ideas on how they could help the community and what needs are arising.”
Her experiences as both an intern and staff member, particularly seeing the energy foundation President/CEO Christy Connolly and other staff bring to their work, now have Maggie considering a long career in philanthropy.
“Once I realized how much passion Christy and everyone else at the foundation had for their job and the great work they were doing in the community It made me want to be a part of that!” Maggie said. “I feel fortunate to begin my career in this field and I hope to stay in it as long as possible.”