Welcome to our our Team Member Spotlights! Our team has been changing and growing this past year, which is why we wanted to re-introduce our team members to you, and give you a closer look at who's behind the wheel here at YFFR. We hope you enjoy this monthly blog series.
Title: Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Interim Chief Development Officer (CDO), Fire Service Advisor, Merchandise Manager, Sponsorship & Partnership Director
For starters, that means a lot of work and a lot of plates to keep spinning at one time. Let’s break each down a bit further.
As the Chief Financial Officer, it is my job to ensure the stability and sustainability of the organization financially. This includes categorizing every penny that comes into and flows out of the organization, tracking grants to make sure that we are within appropriate spending guidelines, filing paperwork with different states to insure proper financial compliance, receiving and paying invoices for our teachers, building and maintaining monthly reports so the organization knows where it stands. The main organizational goal that we are striving to achieve is financial independence and sustainability. As an organization, we don’t want to have to charge for our services, but truly be able to give away our expertise and knowledge to first responders around the world while moving from a grassroots organization to one with a vibrant, responsive infrastructure.
Chief Development Officer (Interim), this position oversees the growth and development of the organization. Within the Development vertical of YFFR there are several subcommittees:
Research Development - We have a dedicated team of researchers from around the world that are putting together studies based specifically on the YFFR protocol.
Curriculum Development - The organization is always refining its curriculum to be more job specific and culturally informed. YFFR currently has curriculum for Instructor School, In-Service Training, Police Academy, Fire Academy, Jail-based Law Enforcement and more. As you can imagine this takes a great deal of expertise and time to develop and refine.
Digital Platforms - A big accomplishment was achieved within this committee this year as we launched Cyber Academy and are already working on our next major digital release!
Strategic Partnerships - This group oversees financial partnerships/sponsorships to continue striving toward that financial goal as well as knowledge or material based partnerships and professional partnerships.
Fire Service Advisor is a critical role to make sure that YFFR is in alignment with the fire service today. With over 13 years of experience it is my responsibility to make sure the YFFR voice translates to firefighters. Just the other night I had one of our instructors tell me that they could relate to me well as they too were a firefighter and I could make the correlation of different postures and breathing techniques to what we do on the fire ground.
Merchandise Manager is a fun creative position. It is within this capacity that I get to flex my creative muscle for the merchandise and swag that you get to purchase via our online store and other ventures. Although merchandise is not a major source of revenue, each purchase does support the previously stated financial goal of financial independence and brings brand awareness to your community when you rep the brand!
Lastly - which, if you’ve stuck with me this far, good for you! - is Sponsorship and Partnership Director. This position helps bring YFFR street cred. There are so many amazing organizations that serve first responders in different capacities, it is our goal to partner with them and spread our mission further. One of our biggest partnerships todate is our partnership with Cordico, which is a wellness application used by many of the largest agencies across the country! Another aspect of this position is the financial partnerships, as we are working toward financial independence it is of utmost importance to find companies and individuals whose mission overlaps with ours and solidify that fiscal partnership.
I grew up in a fire service house.
My mother was a school teacher and my dad retired as a Battalion Chief after 30+ years in the fire service. As such, having dinners at the station started when I was a kid. I volunteered as a firefighter when I was going through college, graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in Political Science. I realized that may have been a mistake when I didn’t want to be a teacher or a lawyer, so I continued the family tradition and became a firefighter for West Des Moines, Iowa. While serving there, I obtained my Master’s of Public Administration from the University of North Dakota, worked my way into leadership positions within IAFF L3586 and the Iowa Professional Firefighters, and ran for State Representative. Although I lost the election, I earned enough respect from my peers and those in the Capitol to then lobby on behalf of the firefighters in Iowa and was promoted to Lieutenant (company officer) before taking a career change and moving into technology. I now sell software full-time to the fire service and obviously spend most extra waking moments fulfilling the duties and responsibilities outlined above.
My main sidekick is my fiancee, Olivia, both of us working from home full-time. You'd think we’d get sick of each other, but we find that we cherish the opportunity to be partners and tackle the hurdles of personal and professional life together. When it’s time to work, it’s just like any other office. We go to our separate work spaces and meet around the water-cooler for a break, it just so happens that our water-cooler is our kitchen and typically has a fully stocked fridge. The others that you’ll find roaming around our house are Woody and Abby, which, if you read Olivia’s spotlight she gave you the 4-1-1 on those two already!
Do you consider yourself a "Yogi"?
This is an interesting question, what is a Yogi? I do practice yoga regularly, so therefore would traditionally be called a yogi. As those who are familiar with YFFR, our Protocol goes past much of the Western branding of yoga and dives deeper into the traditional roots of yoga, which pushes into my why...
The physical practice of yoga is just a vehicle to obtain mastery over the mind and the entire psycho-physiological system.
Having studied ancient philosophies such as Stoicism and religions, these core tenets are important to me to train and be resilient. When I was introduced to yoga and the concepts of yoga, it became clear to me that yoga was not a religion, but it was a practical tool that could train first responders to be resilient, allow them to not just survive after stress, but thrive and allow them to enhance their job performance through better decision-making under stress and making their bodies more able to perform the strenuous tasks required of them.
There are plenty of reactive measures, but this was the first proactive measure I had come across.
18-Minute Frog Jump Drills for Enhanced Focus and Endurance, the reason this is a favorite for me is that it introduces the frog jump drills which when you practice them you may understand why they are part of the law enforcement academy curriculum. The drill also builds quick heat and you must stay focused in the moment to progress correctly. When coordinated with the breath this is a great way to process stress and let the world drop away for a few minutes.
Something Unique About Me:
I have transitioned my passion for photography into becoming the director and videographer of the Cyber Academy videos, pushing and enhancing this creative skill set has allowed me to tap into part of myself that, until recently, I had not discovered.
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:
I’m a big fan of chocolate ice cream with peanut butter in it and for something a bit more classic it is butter pecan.
We were definitely a bit behind the times as we don’t watch television during the week, but the season we most recently finished was Disney’s Mandalorian. The behind the scenes, making of, is also worth a watch to see the amazing technology used to create the show.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Eric. Next up: Sara Mills! Stay tuned for our next Team Member Spotlight in August.
- The YFFR Team