Ceceily Brickley is originally from South Bend, Indiana. Ceceily moved to Indianapolis shortly after graduating from Indiana University in Bloomington to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Marion County Commission on Youth. She is currently a Program Officer with United Way of Central Indiana, specifically working on the Great Families 2020 initiative and just recently graduated from the IU School of Public and Environmental affairs with a Master’s in Public Affairs.
In her prior role, Ceceily was a Program Officer with Serve Indiana, the Indiana Commission for Community Service and Volunteerism, where she also managed funding through the Corporation for National and Community Service as well as TANF funding through the Family and Social Services Administration.
Service is an integral part of who Ceceily is. She has stayed heavily involved with AmeriCorps programming and national service since serving as a VISTA, is a member of The Exchange, the Indianapolis Urban League’s Young Professionals auxiliary, vice president of the Neal Marshall Alumni Club and volunteers regularly at Holy Family Shelter teaching life skills.
How long have you lived in Indy?
I have officially lived in Indianapolis exactly 4 years and 7 days! I was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana.
Why have you focused on using your skills in the nonprofit sector?
I am naturally drawn to the nonprofit sector. I have worked in the private sector, the public sector and the nonprofit sector. Professionally I am most interested in the intersection between sectors. The nonprofit sector is critical to our society and just like all other sectors needs diversity of thought and experience to be successful.
I have learned I enjoy being in a convener role and that is what best fits my skill set. This type of role allows me to draw on all of my experience in each of the sectors and contribute that back to the non-profit I work in as well as the organizations I work with.
How did you find your current position?
Prior to being at United Way, I was a program officer with Serve Indiana. Serve Indiana is the Commission on Community Service and Volunteerism for Indiana. I loved being at Serve Indiana because it was a sweet spot where the public sector and non-profit sector intersect. While at Serve Indiana, I managed AmeriCorps funding through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
Late last year I heard some buzzing that United Way of Central Indiana had received one of the largest Social Innovation Fund grants through CNCS in the country and intended to make a 20 million dollar overall investment into the Indianapolis community. A friend and colleague encouraged me to apply and the rest is history. I knew as soon as I learned about the 2-generational approach United Way was taking on and the communities they planned to invest in here in Indianapolis, I needed to be a part of this work.
I wanted to work with CNCS from the time I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA, so when this opportunity presented itself it seemed like a perfect way to shift gears a little professionally and still 1) remain in the national service realm 2) add new professional skills and experiences 3) remain in that intersection between the public sector, private sector and voluntary sector 4) allow me to get back into community level work but still at a more macro level.
What would you say to another young professional considering a nonprofit job?
Your name is your brand. My first professional job out of college after serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA was at a local community center here in Indianapolis. To make a long story short, this community center had some challenges and with this being my first professional position outside of college I felt the burden of these challenges. I eventually left my position at the community center to take a community oriented position at IUPUI.
I have said all of this to say, in the midst of my experience at this community center, I remained gracious when speaking about leadership and empathetic to how difficult it is to be in the trenches day in and day out. Almost two years after leaving the community center I remember being asked about my experience at that center by a much older, more seasoned colleague and her complimenting me on my ability to speak graciously about that experience and grow from it. She has served as a key professional reference for me ever since.
I would also say, remain in your truth and advocate for yourself. Although in a service oriented field, never feel guilty for bringing up compensation or for making a lateral move and take advantage of any end every professional development opportunity!
If you could learn a brand new skill, what would it be?
If I could learn a brand-new skill? Hmm... I would learn how to build websites and mobile applications. It’s not a super glamorous skill but I have always wanted to learn coding and be more tech-savvy in that way but haven’t had the time to commit to learning. (Learning to play the guitar would be a close second!)
If you were an inanimate object, what would you be and why?
If I were an inanimate object I would be land somewhere cool (still haven’t quite decided where or what kind of land). I am fascinated by history and can’t even imagine the things land has seen. Land has been so significant historically and has been passed down through generations. Even though we are taught much about history, having been/being land would be telling I’m sure. Land is something common across the world and doesn’t move (relatively speaking). If I were land I would’ve been able to observe the past, be in the present and observe the future.
What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
I hope to start a business. This is one thing I have always wanted to do but haven’t quite gotten around to it yet or quite found my niche area. I am in the process of starting a small business right now doing something I enjoy and hope that this will become a platform for future endeavors.
Share a little-known treasure of Indianapolis with us.
Hmm… I don’t know if I have lived here long enough to have experienced all of Indy’s little-known treasures. I know there are many. One thing I have been excited about is the Indianapolis Book Share on Monument Circle. I remember a friend a mine who lives in Boston telling me about their book share downtown and how people come grab books, bring books etc. I had never seen anything like a book share.
One thing I love about Indianapolis is our ability to stay up with the times as far as being a big city but make the city feel smaller by creating different experiences depending on where about in the city you are.
On another note if you haven’t tried Black Diamond BBQ here in Indianapolis (which most people I ask haven’t - and it’s local!) you’re missing out! Black Diamond BBQ is definitely a little-known treasure.
Most important question: Brunching is a serious sport. Where’s your favorite place to get your brunch workouts in?
YOLK hands down! Have you tried their chicken and bacon waffle?! I almost always need a nap afterwards but it’s worth every minute of me breaking the diet I am never actually on (and I’m pretty sure chewing burns calories). Open Society is a close second!
Want to support Ceceily's work?
Ceceily is currently looking to hire five AmeriCorps VISTAs to play a critical role in the success of United Way’s Great Families 2020 initiative. Anyone interested should apply here. Feel free to reach out to Ceceily with questions about the opportunities.