David Pfeifer brought decades of experience running small and mid-size businesses to Futures and Options last year when he joined the team as an Encore Fellow — a seasoned professional paid a stipend to work at a nonprofit for 3 to 12 months. 

When his fellowship ended in September, he accepted a full-time job there. “We hired him because he is the best person for the job,” says Patty Machir, executive director. “David’s prior experience in the for-profit world as a COO, CFO and CEO has been immensely helpful and, because of his efforts and contributions, we are a much better-managed nonprofit.” 

She adds, “His ability to communicate effectively with our team, his respectfulness, his integrity and his terrific sense of humor are all much appreciated. And he will roll up his sleeves to tackle any project — he just gets it done.” 

Learn more about Pfeifer’s fellowship experience, and why he wasn’t ready to leave, in his own words below. 

Even if there was no Covid-19 and I could travel freely, I would want to be doing this — working to support a nonprofit that provides career development and paid, mentored internships to underserved high school students in New York City.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of every business I’ve been associated with. But to be helping high school students who maybe haven’t had the same advantages that my son had? That feels really good, especially with all the social justice issues being surfaced right now. To be contributing, in my own small way, to something that’s making a difference to the things that I believe in.

I started out at Futures and Options as the operations manager with three direct reports and now I’m the director of finance and administration, and I’m part of the management team. I thought my skills could help the organization, but I way underestimated how much I was going to learn. The whole idea of profit maximization is completely thrown out the window. You still have to pay super close attention to revenue, expenses and cash, but it’s just with a different mindset — you’re measuring service impact, efficiency of use and that kind of thing. It’s been fascinating.

My department supports all the other staff that drive the mission of the business. We help onboard hundreds of interns per year and manage all the HR issues of our staff.  We make sure to invoice for the work we do, and provide financial reporting and analysis to the management team and the board. It is our job to make sure our computers work and there is paper for the copiers, and to see that our vendors get paid. It’s a broad range of tasks.

Our goal is to ensure that the people working with the funders, business partners and students don’t have any issues with the gears behind the operation. But we aren’t an accounting firm. We’re a finding-students-internships firm. That’s what’s exciting.

During the pandemic we’ve shifted our career preparedness classes online and a lot of businesses were able to transition to remote work for the interns. Everyone is finding ways to be creative and we’re ramping up for a pretty busy summer.

Earlier in my career, as I started working my way up the management chain, I found that the rooms got smaller, older and less diverse. At Futures and Options, there’s a lot of diversity and many of the people I work with are much younger than me. If there’s anything I can teach them, great. But if I can support them as they develop in their careers, well, that’s awesome.

I’d never worked in the nonprofit sector before. But I believe right now, if I had to leave this role for some reason, I would stay on this career path. I would look for another nonprofit and find a similar role. I would have never done that, if not for the Encore Fellowship program. I’m very grateful.

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Learn more about hosting or becoming an Encore Fellow here.

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