Spotlight on Inspiration - Katie Pfeifer, Sr. Director of Programs, Volunteer New York!


Editor's Note: I am so happy to call most of the people highlighted in these profiles friends and colleagues, but I am also learning new things about them as I prepare these for publication. I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am! Please let me know your thoughts or feel free to recommend someone to be profiled by sending an email to me at -- Risa Hoag

Katie Pfeifer
Senior Director of Programs
Volunteer New York!

How did you get to be in the job you have now?

I've been with Volunteer New York! for 10 years, in a few different roles, and in my current role for 2 years. We are a small nonprofit, so I am fortunate that there were opportunities for me to grow at VNY!. When I first applied for an outreach job, they went with another candidate. One of the people who interviewed me offered to meet for coffee to talk about my job search, and then when the person they hired left a few months later, she called me.

What career did you think you would have when you were in high school?

When I was in high school I wasn't sure what career I wanted and it changed each year. I thought about being a teacher and working for a company in some unknown capacity.

What was the best advice you ever received?

Don't overuse “sorry.” Early in my career, I said "sorry to bother you" a lot, sometimes in email and when calling a colleague. We should not apologize for doing our job, which at times involves rating and communicating with others. In the beginning, I had to actively work to not say it and over time, it got easier.

What piece of advice would you give to college seniors?

Think about a past job/internship. What did you enjoy doing? What didn't you enjoy doing? As you look for your next job, try to find one that has more of what you enjoy. Every job will have tasks that you don't like as much as others, but if you continue to move into roles where you like more and more of what you do, you'll be more satisfied at work.

Do you have a particular charity you support? And why?

The Nyack Center is one of my favorite organizations that I support because they are meeting a community need for quality youth programming, supporting learning with their breakfast program, and helping young people learn and grow. They are awesome!

Do you have a personal goal for 2023?

My personal goal for 2023 is to run a half marathon. I love running. It's energizing for my mental health and I enjoy it. I just haven't been prioritizing it since I became a parent and my morning running buddies moved away.

Do you feel you have a good work/life balance? If so, why or how did you achieve that?

Most of the time I feel I have a good work/life balance. One of the best things I did was turn off push notifications for my work email on my phone. Now I have to go into the app and refresh to see new emails, which means I decide if/when I look at them after hours.

When you feel stuck, how do you recharge yourself or get inspired?

When I feel stuck, I pause and try to spend a little time outside. That could be a walk around the parking lot at my office, going for a run, hiking or playing in the backyard with my child.

Do you have a hobby? If so, what is it and how did you get into it? (If not, what hobby would you like to take up?)

I love to read and have since I can remember. I've always been a re-reader because it's like visiting with a friend or re-watching a movie; it's comforting. I think I was lucky that I found my genre early. I had to read The Fellowship of the Ring in 6th grade and then read the rest of the trilogy because I enjoyed it so much. I have re-read them many times. Finding a book that pulls you in is key.

Do you have a habit you wish you could break?

Sometimes I start a conversation with my husband or child when they are in another room, and then I get annoyed when we aren't on the same page. Most of the time, they didn't hear me.

If money wasn’t a concern, what would you be doing right now?

I would travel around the world.

Name one or two of your favorite movies.

A League of Their Own

Name one or two of your favorite books? And why.

Lord of the Rings and Pride & Prejudice are my all-time favorite books. Tolkien sets the standard for fantasy and he inspired many other authors. Jane Austen was ahead of her time.

What do you want your legacy to be? Or how do you want to be remembered?

I want to be remembered as someone who lifted up others. Someone who put kindness into the world and brought people joy.

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