MassSTAR 2017 is coming up and we couldn’t be more excited. This week, get to know one of our OUTSTANDING Conference Co-Directors, Erica Cabag!
Who are you and how did you become involved with MYL?
Hi everyone! I’m Erica Cabag and I’m an MYL Foundation volunteer. I joined the Board of Directors as Secretary and was in that role from Fall 2013 to Fall 2016. In January of this year I took on the role as Director of the 2017 MassSTAR Conference alongside MYL Foundation powerhouse Colleen Myers ’01. I became involved with MYL Foundation initially as a donor thanks to learning about the organization from friend/former colleague, Jen Coliflores ’00, long-time volunteer and current Vice President of the board.
What are you up to now?
I’m the Development Officer at Gann Academy, a private Jewish high school in Waltham, Massachusetts. I’m in the middle of the Diversity Fellows Program with the MA chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). It’s a professional development program that allows me to grow as a fundraising professional, learn best practices, and network with others in the field. Volunteering for MYL Foundation is a big priority right now but I’m looking for new organizations to work with as a volunteer. I used to dance a lot when I was younger (tap, jazz, ballet, modern, etc.) and am trying to get back into classes. I’m also a notorious TV show binge-watcher. It’s terrible but sometimes I just get caught up in it all. TV is GREAT these days. I’m also trying to travel more, especially abroad. Last year I went to Israel and this spring I will go to the Netherlands. My hope is to travel internationally at least once a year.
What would your fantasy superpower be and why?
I would really love to be able to manipulate time – be it freeze time, travel in time, have Hermione’s time turner necklace from Professor Dumbledore, you name it. While it’s a huge responsibility – think Marty McFly in “Back To The Future” (I know I’m totally dating myself) – the power can’t be beat. Time is both a finite and infinite thing. While we only have so many hours in a day, years in a life, etc., what we do now could exist or live beyond our own lifetimes. In that way we already have that superpower. But to be able to go back with knowledge you have now to possibly change the course of history, or just to not wear denim on denim, the possibilities are endless.
What’s your favorite point of the STAR and why?
My favorite point of the star is Intentionality. It’s easy to get bogged down in daily tasks and often I say “yes” to things without really thinking about it. Focusing on intentionality helps to ground me so that I spend time on the things I find the most valuable as opposed to just keeping busy.
What emoji(s) best represents you?
When they tilted the cry/laugh guy, it was a game changer for me. I use it all the time!
My first conference was 2014 and I arrived on Friday evening after the conference was well underway. While I prepared by reading as much as I could about the program and the staff, nothing can prepare you for the reaction you get from people when you use the “e-word” without preparation. I was standing with other board members and they asked me what I thought. I told them that I loved the energy and was just “enthusiastic to be here” and suddenly I had what felt like 25 people cheering loudly in my face, “To be enthusiastic you must act enthusiastic! To act enthusiastic you must be enthusiastic! Oh, boy, are we ENTHUSIASTIC!!!!!” I’ll be honest, it was somewhat traumatizing, but I loved it. It captures the entire conference experience for me. I used the e-word about 4 more times by accident before I finally got into the habit of saying “e-word.” And when ever I use it “in real life” I chuckle and recite the cheer in my head.
What does “being a good citizen” mean to you?
My answer to that has changed over time. Right now I’m focusing on empathy and action/participation. We can’t let life move around us, we have to look at what is happening and find where we can have positive impact on the world and act on it. At the same time, what we think is “right” isn’t the same for everyone, so you have to try your best to understand where other people are coming from, especially those who seemingly disagree with you. It’s a tough thing to do and sometimes it even feels painful, but we don’t live in a vacuum. Our lives are intertwined with others whether we like it or not.
And finally, do you have any advice for recent (or not so recent) MYL Alumni?
Don’t let your age dictate what you can and cannot do. This goes for both old and young. We are never at a wrong age to move mountains. No matter where you are in the course of your life you can always participate and make a difference. I believe those are some of the most inspirational stories in life.