Action ignites Inspiration: Meet Katie Weitz
SG: What do you want the SG Tribe to know about you?
Katie Weitz: My name is Katie Weitz, and I was raised in Omaha, Nebraska. I started my social justice career boycotting Nestle and writing letters to President Reagan to stop nuclear armament at age six. 40 years later, while my understanding of social justice has matured, my advocacy efforts are just as passionate. I love to problem solve with big ideas and can foresee unintended consequences as well as question assumptions. I am a small CoG, Champion of Good, in the big wheel of my community. I got my fundraising sea legs by working for Susie Buffet’s Foundation. In addition to helping non-profits solve the problems encountered while fundraising in a digital age via Advokatie.org, I am the Executive Director for the Weitz Family Foundation, which seeks to break the cycle of poverty in Omaha, NE by empowering individuals, agencies, and organizations to create a more equitable and peaceful society. We believe in empowering servant leaders to address issues of equity and justice in Omaha, Nebraska. Since inception in 2000, over $50 million in awards have been granted to housing, arts, education and health organizations in Omaha, Nebraska.
Sarah Gibbons: What does it mean to live your legacy every day?
KW: Living my legacy every day means helping other people make their dreams a reality. I am fortunate to have worked in large Omaha Foundations and, with deep family roots in the community, I have a broad network of powerful change agents. I feel like a radio transmitter, pulling in information and tuning the channels to sending the messaging out where it is needed. While my professional ability to see both the macro and micro allow me to successfully point out flaws, challenge assumptions, and warn of unintended consequences, my efforts don’t always imediately land as helpful. However, when paired with passionate doers, willing to keep pushing to find the answers, I find that almost anyone’s dream can be achieved. Further, my desire to share power with those most affected by policy or program implementation forces me to confront the challenges of operating in an “old boys” town and, regularly, navigating both implicit and — at times — unambiguous racism, classism, and conservatism that prevents a thriving community for all. Omaha is a great place where everything is possible, big enough to have demand and resources and, yet, small enough to be two degrees from anything you need, empowering me to live my legacy of helping others accomplish what they have set their minds to.
SG: What do you find most challenging about living your legacy each day?
KW: What’s most challenging for me in living my legacy every day is to consciously focus on celebrating not just the macro-wins, the final outcomes, but also the micro-wins that are the building blocks towards completion. It is easy to fall prey to those feelings of never doing enough, never being enough, never giving enough. It can be a real challenge to recognize the myriad of micro-milestones and focus on the successful facets of each event. For example, when my job is to point out inefficiencies or when my teams have gone wrong, it’s easy to label the work as lost; effort that I didn’t guide correctly. Instead, however, I have to remind myself and teams that we’re not retreating; we’re advancing in another direction, we’re course-correcting because we learned which direction to not go in.
SG: What’s the new belief or habit that has changed your quality of life?
KW: The new belief in my life is that I now have an awareness of and practice around being intentional about how and where I focus my energy, identifying wins and acknowledging success, all while honoring myself. My work with Sarah has been incredibly meaningful in leading me to identify and transact with beliefs I think I always had but was unable to properly connect with. My work with Sarah has helped me identify all of my professional (and personal!) wins, identifying a graceful path, and prioritizing filling my own cup. My work with Sarah has provided me a daily practice to reinforce my daily legacy, helping me see that I’m reliable to accomplish big things, which alone is a gift that has changed my life.