After 26 years in the insurance business in Hartford, Connecticut, Tracie Cloutier wanted more purpose. She enrolled in a two-month program at Encore!Hartford, a member organization of the Encore Network, and immersed herself in learning about working in the nonprofit sector.
After completing the course and a fellowship at a local nonprofit, Tracie was offered the position of project director at the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program, promoting STEM education for disadvantaged youth. Here’s Tracie’s story, in her own words:
“I absolutely love teenagers. I have people laugh at me when I say that because I think it’s not always a popular thing to say. But I raised two boys that are now up and out of the house and I was missing that kind of interaction with youth. And so, when I thought about what type of an organization I might see myself in, I definitely wanted it to be a youth-serving organization.
The Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program, known as CPEP, is focused on exposing under-represented students to the possibilities, to allow them to potentially enter a STEM career at some point and to strengthen some of the math foundations that are so essential to be workforce ready. I was pleasantly surprised that so much of my experience in corporate was actually transferrable. They were very receptive to me bringing a fresh perspective, my project management skills or communication skills.
I was never going to expect to be earning the same type of salary because I was pursuing something that was more close to the heart versus driven by the wallet. When you really bring together people that are passionate from a variety of areas and age brackets, there’s a lot of magic that can happen.
There’s nothing more satisfying than having your work be something that you’re passionate about and something that just improves the community that you live in. That’s definitely one of my favorite parts of making the transition to nonprofit.”