Notable Nonprofit Leader of the Month: Paula Belemjian!
Paula is the Executive Director of The Margaret Home and is scaling the organization swiftly, leading to remarkable transformation in the lives of those served while developing a sustainable model to be replicated across the country. She is one of our clients and a delightful colleague. We hope you enjoy this interview with Paula!
1. How long have you been with your nonprofit and in what capacity?
"I’ve been with The Margaret Home from the very beginning. In 2015, an inaugural group of us came together to explore whether to start this nonprofit. We sought a way to not only meet the needs of pregnant women who were affected by poverty, homelessness, or trauma, but to address the root causes of their struggles and help heal their wounds.
We incorporated the nonprofit in 2016, purchased the actual home in 2017, completely renovated it in 2018, and welcomed our first mother into the home in 2019. At that time, I was the Board Chair, and have since transitioned into the role of volunteer Executive Director.
The Margaret Home is a residential empowerment program that revives hope for mothers who maintain a limited or broken support network and who struggle with the often-invisible wounds of trauma. We provide healing and unconditional love in a comfortable home and caring communal environment that nurtures an empowered spirit and a healthy lifestyle. For each of our mothers, we create a self-directed action plan along with the structure and resources to enable the achievement of personal, educational, and professional goals that can lead to independence for a woman and her family. We serve women through all stages of pregnancy and early motherhood."
2. What is the biggest fundraising challenge your nonprofit has faced, and how did you deal with it?
"Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to pay our staff a fair wage. We wanted them to know they are important and cared for, but it just about tripled our budget! We hired fundraising consultants to help us scale – essentially, spending money to make money. The model works if you do it wisely!"
3. What are you most proud of professionally? How about personally?
"I have twelve children. Prior to leading The Margaret Home, I was a scientist, math teacher, and homeschooling mom. Raising a family of both biological and adopted children, managing complex schedules, and teaching curriculum for all different ages and developmental stages was monumentally challenging. My husband and I have raised our children in a faithful home and provided them with a classical education, which is something I am proud of having accomplished.
Professionally, juggling motherhood while starting a nonprofit was demanding, but I surround myself with people whom I trust and can offer sound advice at every step along the way."
4. What is a fun fact most people don’t know about you?
"I’ll give you two fun facts - I play the violin and I love to box and lift weights! I was a classically trained violinist then about a year ago I took up boxing. I just train, I don’t spar. I believe that anybody working in a service field or extending themselves for so many hours in a day needs a physical outlet! The parts of our body are interconnected and as we exhaust ourselves emotionally and mentally, it’s so important to attend to the rest of our body through good nutrition, exercise, and prayer."
5. What advice do you have for other nonprofit leaders who may be facing fundraising challenges?
"Be humble and willing to accept advice outside yourself. Don’t turn ideas away because they are new and innovative. Be open to suggestions and ideas and creativity that might come from outside of you. Competition is a mindset of scarcity, but in the nonprofit world, we need others, and the community needs to own what we do. Collaboration will get you a lot farther than competition!"
If you’d like to read more about The Margaret Home, please click here!
We help nonprofits become financially successful and sustainable.