20 Questions in 60 Seconds is our blog series in which we interview Communities In Schools staff members. This week's guest is Megan Walker Grimaldi, Director of Research at the Communities In Schools National office.
1. What three traits define you?
Hard-working, determined (polite for "stubborn") and compassionate.
2. What is your personal philosophy?
Everything looks better after a nap.
3. What would you like to be your greatest accomplishment?
Achieving peace and balance in my life and passing this on to my son.
4. What's one thing you couldn't live without?
Water. I'm constantly thirsty. If I don't have a water bottle with me, it's a minor crisis.
5. What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your life thus far?
Accepting and embracing the present moment. It is a day-to-day challenge.
6. What is the one thing you cannot resist? (food/dessert/candy/etc.)
Buckeyes. Get those things away from me.
7. What is your favorite thing to do?
Wake up, put my son in his jogging stroller, go for a run with our family and have a pastry and coffee at the little Italian grocer in our neighborhood after.
8. Where is the best place you've traveled to and why?
I love Ireland. I've been there one, with my husband, for our first anniversary. I have a mixed background - Irish, Scottish, German, Dutch - but for some reason my family has always connected with the Irish side most. When I went to Ireland it reminded me so much of Michigan that I felt like I was home. The rolling green hills, the friendly cows, the vast blue water...I'd move there if I could. And let's face it - they pour the best Guinness you'll ever have.
9. What's the weirdest job you've ever had?
It's not weird, but unique. I used to work as a nurses' aide in a nursing home. As such, I took elderly folks to lunch, helped them get ready for their day, made their beds and helped them to bathe or shower. I learned so much at that job; even at the end of life, we can approach every day with appreciation and joy.
10. Who is your biggest inspiration?
Though my husband, son and father are clearly the most important people in my life, I have two women I need to mention, because they exemplify the kind of female I want to be. The first woman passed away right after she helped me get into music school at her alma mater. She was my band director and she was the brightest, most positive, giving, caring and wonderful woman I ever knew. Second is my grandmother, who, at age 88, had to be told to stop climbing the ladder to paint the ban. She's 90 now and I doubt she's stopped.
11. What does true leadership mean to you?
Always being open to the concept that you might be wrong. If you think that you know all you need to know, you're closing yourself off from growth opportunities. That, to me, is tantamount to decay.
12. What's the coolest (or most important) trend you see today?
People are traveling more and being more respectful of the people in the places they visit. We are starting to see that we have more in common with people living in different cultures, thousands of miles away, than we initially thought. Humans of New York has been great at delivering this message.
13. What has been the most important innovation you have witnessed in your lifetime?
Smart phones. My 90 year-old grandmother pointed out that she can see photos of her great-grandson, my son, on a thing no bigger than a pack of cards. It has certainly made me feel better about being far away from family and friends.
14. You're hosting a dinner party. Who are the 3 people, living or dead, who you would invite and why?
Jesus, because I think he had some pretty great ideas. Peter Jackson, because I love LOTR. And Bill, my husband, because he is good at carrying on conversation when I'm tired and need to go to bed.
15. What advice do you have for kids who are struggling at school?
Find a mentor. There are so many people who want to mentor young people...Oftentimes, grown-ups feel more happy and fulfilled than you can possibly imagine, just because they get to work with someone like you. You are very special and there's an adult out there just waiting to tell you that.
16. What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
The people that cause pain and drama in your life aren't worth getting worked up over. Breathe through the situations that frustrate you; then let them go. It's what I'd tell myself now, too. ;-)
17. How do you define success?
When you're successful, you're not trying to prove that you're the most important person in the room. Instead, you're so happy with who you are that you just try to help everyone around you shine.
18. What is the best book you have ever read?
World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. It is a book that is organized by themes (things like Truth, Goodness and Love, Atonement and Forgiveness of Sins, Good and Evil) and within each theme the authors list passages from a wide variety of different faiths and teachings. When you read it, you realize that even though we have different words, people have been thinking basically the same beautiful thoughts since we could think. It inspires and comforts me more than any other book I've ever read.
19. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I've always wanted to become a Renaissance woman and write a book about how I did it. I want to spend my time writing, playing my flute, baking, cooking, gardening, reading, doing yoga and running. Once I figure out how to make a living out of it, I'd teach other people how to do it.
20. What is your favorite thing about working at Communities In Schools?
The people. People here are friendly and they care. When Dan Cardinali comes by my desk and talks to me about The Hobbit, I feel like I'm valued as an individual with unique interests and perspectives.
Have questions for Megan? Comment them below and she'll answer.