Part 1: 20 Years of Shared Memories and Experiences

Celebrating SIF’s 20th Anniversary


After 20 years, we have made so many amazing memories together in the SIF network. To celebrate our 20th anniversary, our communications team asked each staff and board member, along with some of our longtime consultants, to share their favorite memory of SIF. Read along to reminisce with us on these wonderful memories from across our 20 years. This is part one of a two part blog series. 

1. Katie’s first time at Showcase

The 2023 Showcase is my favorite memory. I had just joined the organization a few months prior to the event, and was still getting familiar with SIF’s work and operations. The event allowed me to see our work and understand how meaningful it is; the evening went on in such a lively, upbeat, fun way where all of us on the team had a chance to meet the Innovators. I loved seeing the passion of the Innovators up on stage during the presentations along with the lively music performance. The night ended with me, Melissa, and Malathi enduring the humorous challenge of fitting all of the balloons into my car to transport back to the office. - Katie Murphy, SIF’s Executive Assistant

2. Jenna with the team at SIF’s 20th birthday party

One of my favorite SIF memories is a recent one -- SIF’s 20 year birthday party. The SIF team took a cake out to Post Office Square where we each lit a candle and made a wish for SIF’s birthday. After blowing out the candles, we shared the cake and had a picnic together, where we got to chat and hang out with each other. - Jenna Nackel, SIF’s Director of Network Engagement

3. Melissa remembers the move from Congress to Oliver Street.

When SIF moved from 1 Congress Street to 2 Oliver Street, the move did not go as originally planned. We came in over a weekend to work on the move, when suddenly the fire alarm went off in the middle of the process. We sat in the lobby waiting for the fire department to come, when Susan pulled out cards for a game of Go Fish. We played go fish together while we waited for the fire department, and turned a stressful wrench in our plans into a bonding moment. This would have to be one of my favorite memories, as it was such a nice unexpected bonding moment. - Melissa Duggan, SIF’s Chief Operating Officer 

4. Sae at the last CORE Session

My favorite memories of SIF were being able to build great relationships with so many community leaders around the country through the CORE program. We were able to cultivate connection (even through Zoom!), celebrate our accomplishments together, and learn ways to be even more innovative and intentional in our work. Being able to write a paper on our collective learnings and expertise is a feat I could not have achieved without the CORE cohort! - Saejin Yoo (formerly SIF’s Senior Special Projects Coordinator) 

5. Lauren with the team at goodbye lunch for Summer Interns

My favorite SIF memory was the goodbye lunch for the 2023 summer interns. The team ordered food together and took it out to Post Office Square to have a picnic together and celebrate the interns’ last day. The weather was absolutely perfect and a musician was playing a harp in the background while we sat together. Team members brought cookies and ice cream sandwiches for everyone to share. After the picnic ended, the interns, us co-ops, and the coordinators stayed at the park and had  our meeting with each other outside since it was such a beautiful day. - Lauren Elkins, SIF’s Communications & Events Co-op

6. Kassandra remembers the 2022 Warm Winter Welcome 

My favorite memory at SIF is the 2022 Warm Winter Welcome. It was the second big in person event after COVID-19 and it was just nice to come back in person to see many familiar faces. We changed a lot of things for this event -- an earlier start time (9am), breakfast catered from the Food Hall, an all-purple branding theme, a super short speaking program (5-7 mins), and a new venue, High Street Place. For a morning event, it was a nice sized crowd with lots of energy. I remember Susan coming up to me a few times that morning and saying “This is great. We need to come back here!” And we are! It will be great to host at this venue again to welcome our 2024 Social Innovators! - Kassandra Sidney, SIF’s Communications & Brand Manager 

7. Sarah’s memory of a team bonding activity

Sae had organized a team bonding activity in which the SIF team got lunch together, and then headed over to an escape room. We broke into 2 teams and did the escape room challenges. It was a really fun activity where we got to bond and problem solve together in a different way than we do at work. Sarah Dingee, SIF’s Senior Program Manager 

Note: This is also one of Aditi’s favorite memories. 

8. Wendy’s connections to Innovators 

I love it when the SIF Innovators I work with get integrated into my other worlds of teaching at BU, with my company, Creative Re/Frame and in my personal life. This is just what happens when you love what you do and you lead with passion. I have a few examples and these individuals come top of mind for me: Sarah Roxburgh from Veterans Legal Services for co-leading a workshop with me for BU’s IDEA CON Innovation conference on Nonprofit Funding. Christopher Hope from The Loop Lab for Guest lecturing in each others classes at Tufts and Boston University. Finally, Marquis Victor from Elevated Thought for being a guest star in my BU classes, leading fabulous workshops for IDEA CON and being a host site to prototype a class for Creative Re/Frame. - Wendy Swart Grossman, SIF’s Consultant 

9. Aditi’s experience at in-person site visits 

During the selection process for the 2023 cohort, in-person site visits for the finalists resumed after being virtual for a couple years due to the pandemic. These in-person site visits are one of my favorite SIF memories. The visits were a great opportunity for learning, and a wonderful way to build relationships with both track partners and finalist organizations. A goal of Funder Education is to think critically about how to conduct site visits in an equitable way that isn’t burdensome to nonprofit organizations. We want the site visit experience to be generative for both the visitors and the hosts! I look back fondly on this memory, and all the learning and connection that happened as a result. - Aditi Dholakia, SIF’s Funder Education Program Manager

10. Rafeya’s time at the Innovator dinner 

My best SIF memory was one of my first ones, attending an Innovator dinner hosted by the program team. The dinner was in early July 2023, just after I started my co-op at SIF, and was an event to give the 2023 Innovators a space to socialize and network with each other and the SIF team. The event was a really engaging and fun way for me to get to know the team and meet some of the Innovators that SIF’s work centers around. I even began chatting with one of the Innovators and made a great connection. The Innovator introduced me to one of their own interns, and invited me to an upcoming event they were hosting. - Rafeya Hashmi, SIF’s Network Engagement Co-op

11. Malathi’s first time at Showcase 

My favorite memory at SIF was during the 2023 Showcase. A woman who sat next to me in the audience turned to me after a few of the presentations and said, “You must be so proud”, and I realized yes, I was proud and began tearing up. It was an inspiring experience for me as I watched all of the fruits of their labor being realized after working so hard over several months, after many rounds of feedback and editing. The audience was energetic and engaged and the fact that the Innovators’ words truly resonated with the audience made me appreciate all of their hard work that much more. I felt grateful to have been a part of the team that supported them and their success. - Malathi Reddy, SIF’s Program Coordinator 

Read Part 2 to hear from more from the SIF staff and the Board of Directors