Linking community service to professional development

Summary: 

The RTP chapter event entitled “Linking Community Service to Professional Development” opened with a rush of members and guests who clamored to the tables bringing professional suits, accessories and more for Dress for Success, a non-profit organization aimed at helping women access appropriate wardrobes for interviewing.

The RTP chapter event entitled “Linking Community Service to Professional Development” opened with a rush of members and guests who clamored to the tables bringing professional suits, accessories and more for Dress for Success, a non-profit organization aimed at helping women access appropriate wardrobes for interviewing. The excitement generated by the organization and many generous donations was a great segue into the evening’s program.

Christy Shaffer, who was raised in Tennessee and earned her PhD in pharmacology from the University of Tennessee. She still bleeds Tarheel blue, though, as she completed part of her post-doc training at UNC-Chapel Hill. Christy was one of the youngest project leaders in cardiopulmonary clinical research at Burroughs Wellcome Co., and became INSPIRE Pharmaceuticals’ first full time employee in 1995. She has been described as an entrepreneur, and a natural born leader who rose to the top to become CEO at INSPIRE Pharmaceuticals, holding that position for 10 years. She also has 2 dogs, a husband, and two college-aged daughters.

Christy shared with attendees her experience balancing multiple roles in her life – wife, mother, CEO, and board member of several locally and nationally recognized non-profit organizations including, Habitat for Humanity, Morehead Planetarium, NC School of Science and Math, and the NC Museum of Art Foundation. She then provided her perspective on the importance of an organization or manager making an employee feel valued by contributing to or supporting their involvement in a charity or non-profit organization. She noted that volunteering allows people to broaden their professional network while also gaining valuable new skills: “You never know how a chance meeting in an unrelated venue can lead to wonderful and unexpected opportunities.”

At the conclusion of the program, there was an opportunity for attendee participation. Many attendees discussed corporate volunteerism and community service they enjoyed including, matching gift programs and day-off programs provided by employers for volunteer work. They also reflected on the impact volunteering has had on their life and professional career, and discussed how much they appreciated their organization’s support in their decision to get involved in their community.

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