The Next Stage team is filled with respect and gratitude for the hard work of every person in this community who is striving to build impact through their companies, nonprofits and neighborhood organizations. The work that you do truly does make the world a better place. We feel honored that we get to do this work alongside so many of you. Thank you for trusting us to support your organizations well.

One of our team’s holiday traditions is pausing at Thanksgiving to reflect on the year and what we feel gratitude for, both personally and professionally. This year we asked the team two questions:

1. What is something about your career and the work that you do that you’re grateful for?
2. What are you grateful for personally?

Josh Jacobson, CEO
With each passing year, I am continually grateful for the chance to work with such a talented group of people. Next Stage was just me for a number of years at the beginning, and I used that as a chance to learn how to be a consultant and how to run a company. But that is a lonely road, and as we added teammates, I came to understand how much more meaningful this work can be when it is accomplished with others. We are now a team of seven full-time professionals (!!) and I look forward to every day I get to partner with them to advance social causes in the communities we serve.

Personally, I am so thankful for the health of my family – for having my parents and in-laws living close by so we can see them for dinners and special occasions. I am thankful to spend time with our pets, our boy Finley and our aging girl Miyagi, who is struggling with her health but remains our special friend. But I most thankful, as I am each year, for the love of my life, my wife Adara – my best friend and life partner who makes every day worth living. Our Sunday 5-mile walks are my favorite time of every week.

Susan Arrington, Digital Content & Community Manager
I’m grateful that my work keeps me connected to so many passionate people and organizations who strive to make Charlotte more equitable, more informed, more inclusive and more kind. The big picture of issues we’re facing as a society can feel overwhelming, but when I’m able to zoom in and see how lives are being transformed for the better through these local organizations, I remember change is possible.

Knowing that there are people in our world who currently live in environments of war, fear and scarcity, I’m thankful for the gift of an ordinary life.

Haley Rafferty, Team Success Manager
I’m really grateful that my career has been so filled with purpose and has also kept me curious, engaged and challenged. There are several opportunities where people took a chance on me and I am forever indebted to them! My career has also led me to find some of my very best friends that have since become family.

On a personal level, I am so grateful for all of the people in my life. I am amazed that during challenging times it is still possible to feel so loved and supported.

Candice Rawls, Marketing Manager
I’m grateful to work at a company that cares about striving to make the world a more equitable place I’m also so grateful to be able to work with such an amazing, talented, fun and good-hearted group of people. I’m so glad that I work at a place where I feel a true sense of belonging, that my ideas, voice and authenticity matters.

I’m personally thankful for life itself and for the life I get to build with my wonderful husband. Also thankful for the health and well-being of my family and friends. Finally I’m grateful to be in alignment and walking in a knowing each day that I am on the right path, enjoying each step of the journey.

Christine Eubanks, Chief Experience Officer
I am grateful to be a Next Stager! While my role centers around creating a great experience for our team, clients and members of our Cultivate Impact platform, the Next Stage team is actually what makes my experience meaningful each and every day! They constantly amaze me with their passion, insights, teamwork and dedication to our work, and I feel so blessed to learn from them and work beside each one of them all year long.

Learning to embrace change and seeing it as an opportunity to learn, grow and lean into new experiences makes everyday life a true adventure. I am grateful for the new adventures of the past year and especially my two daughters, special friends and devoted family who add so much love and joy to my life.

Janet Ervin, Chief Marketing Officer
I feel so fortunate to work with a team I love, doing work that I love. I’m grateful for the purpose-driven, visionary clients that allow us to be part of their impact – and that I get to work every day alongside people who are so committed to making the world a better, more equitable place for us all.

Outside of work – my husband and boys are my whole heart and their imaginations and sense of humor keep me laughing every day. After a couple of really tough years, I believe more than ever in the power of the ‘small things’ that keep us grounded. I’m grateful for my garden and the new life it brings every day, for long walks with the dog, for books that take me to new places and for Sunday afternoons in the kitchen.

Helen Hope Kimbrough, Director of Community Engagement
As Director of Community Engagement, I am grateful that I get the opportunity to deepen and strengthen our community voice work, making certain that diverse voices are heard and represented in our discovery and strategic planning process. In speaking with a wide-range of stakeholders and focus group participants as well as grasstops and grassroots leaders, I learn so much from their wisdom, perspective, and lived experiences. What an honor it is to listen, gather, and build relationships with so many to collaborate accordingly and move initiatives forward together to impact change.

Personally, I am grateful for transitions which can be somewhat difficult to embrace. However, that’s where the growth is. My husband and I are new to empty nesting which is a major lifestyle change for us. We’ve been parenting our sons through various stages of their lives, and now it’s time to shift and watch them test their wings and fly. Although it still feels awkward not being in the throes of everything with them, it’s now time for us to take the advice from those who have walked this journey before us — to celebrate and enjoy this next phase! We plan to do just that.