After working in the juvenile justice field and the United Way, Dara Munson became President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit in 2007. Munson is passionate about the mentoring organization that opens doors for Detroit youth and helps them to achieve greatness.
Michigan Nightlight: What does being a leader mean to you?
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit President & CEO Dara Munson:
Being a leader means opening doors for others that you may never have to walk through without expectation of reward or recognition. Being a leader means opening doors for others that you may never have to walk through without expectation of reward or recognition.
For example, there are times when a person may need some lift — and as a leader one should be willing to provide that lift. Being in a position of leadership means having a big picture view of the world, or at least your corner of it, and its many moving pieces and being willing to support others in their goals by providing them with opportunities that they may not otherwise be exposed to.
What is your dream for kids?
My dreams for kids are many! But most importantly, that they are able to grow up in an environment that supports their every need so much so that they thrive, achieve their greatness and never stop dreaming. To me, this will take shape when all of the systems in place to support children and families actually work for those individuals. It is a time when children have the ability, support, resources and roadmaps to achieve their greatness within the systems that are in place, not in spite of those systems. It is my dream that we as a community will have an agenda that allows us to speak in one voice focused on high quality educational and life experiences within which our children will grow up and thrive.
What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for social sector work in Michigan?
More unrestricted dollars and capacity building funding for high-performing nonprofits. Perhaps a pool of competitive, unrestricted dollars created by local foundations for nonprofit agencies to apply for on an annual basis based on high performance indicators, leadership in their field, strength of agency leadership and a history of successful collaboration. With this award should come the opportunity for a significant professional development opportunity for the CEO.
How do you know you’re making progress?
I know I’m making progress when the visions that I have begin to come to fruition. They can be as simple as a small-scale internal project or as big as a large-scale fully funded collaborative initiative designed to support the hopes and dreams of thousands of young people. I know that our community is making progress when we speak in one voice for one purpose – our children – and when we hold ourselves and each other accountable for their success.
I know that our community is making progress when we speak in one voice for one purpose – our children – and when we hold ourselves and each other accountable for their success.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of being named President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit when I was only 33 years old AND the dynamic team we have assembled making great things happen for thousands of Detroit area young people.
What originally drew you to your current profession after working in the criminal justice field?
I was keenly interested in the funding community, having been a funder of
programs, and the undeniable outcomes the agency was able to achieve. I was refreshed and drawn to their ability to make change immediately and for the long-term in the lives of their Littles (mentees). It represented a strong brand, mission and movement that were very progressive and measureable.