Friday, July 30 marked Sarah O’Brien’s last day as the Director of Communications and Development at The Open Door after working with the organization for more than five years. She was chosen to be the next Executive Director of the Hamline Midway Coalition in St. Paul, a nonprofit that focuses on serving community needs.
Sarah first began working with The Open Door as a Development Associate at the beginning of 2017, and over the years she has continued to flourish in her various roles with the organization. She said she decided to continue her work with the organization because she truly believes in the focus on healthy food and the ways in which The Open Door provides direct service in Dakota County to people who need it.
One of Sarah’s favorite memories of her time here was the level of innovation and drive that allowed The Open Door to stay open and feed more people than ever during the year 2020.
“We throw around the word ‘innovation’ a lot, but when the pandemic hit, I have never been prouder of an organization because we actually lived that innovation,” Sarah said. “We talked the talk and walked the walk. We never hesitated to remain open. Within that year was so much work, but it didn’t feel like work. It just felt like a community coming together to solve a crisis.”
She also wants people to know that in order to be successful, you must also be willing to try new things and that it’s okay to fail because in that failure you can learn and grow. Sarah hopes that the next staff member in her position will embrace the creative environment at The Open Door and remain unafraid of pursuing new projects and ideas as long as they further the mission of the organization.
Sarah’s drive and determination has allowed The Open Door to grow immensely over the last three years. While she would never take the credit for herself, her work with the Communications Committee and Development Committee was instrumental in the organization’s success throughout the pandemic when many people relied on social media and digital content to get the information they needed.
“All that hard work prior to the pandemic really paid off because I know people heard about us through word of mouth, and knew we were doing good work, so our reputation was already well-regarded,” Sarah said.
Sarah said she feels ready to take on her new position as Executive Director after everything she has learned from The Open Door. Her collaboration on numerous different committees and work alongside The Open Door’s Executive Director Jason Viana have taught her a variety of skill sets and drawing on these experiences has prepared her for this next step.
“I have shadowed Jason since February of 2017, and he’s been a really good leader, and I’ve absorbed a lot of his leadership skills,” Sarah said.
While we will miss her dearly, we at The Open Door have no doubt that Sarah will be an excellent, inspiring leader and will continue to positively impact everyone around her. Please join us in congratulating her and thanking her for the tremendous amount of service she has given the organization.