At Neighborhood, we are fortunate to have some of the most talented, hard-working employees of any organization around. What you may not know are the intricacies of your fellow employees’ jobs or the wide array of talents, hobbies and interests outside of their day jobs that make each employee truly unique. That’s why the Human Resources department in collaboration with the Corporate Communications team created this special series in 2021. We want you to get to know the amazing people you work with! To achieve this, we use a Q&A format paired with photos to spotlight employees.
Our latest Spotlight features Elizabeth “Liz” Swan, Organizational Learning Specialist, Learning and Development department. Enjoy “meeting” Liz!
How long have you worked at Neighborhood? What is your position and what part of your job do you most enjoy?
I celebrated my fifth year at Neighborhood on February 6 of this year. I am an Organizational Learning Specialist on the Learning and Development team, which is part of Human Resources. There are so many things I love about my job that it’s hard to narrow down what I enjoy the most. If I had to pick one aspect, it would be the interactions I experience during trainings. The learning space is a magical place. Within it, people from all backgrounds come together for one common purpose, and through that process, everyone walks away with new and helpful information – myself included. If facilitated properly, adults feel safe in sharing and making mistakes. It’s all part of the learning process and it is beautiful to witness the transformation as well as celebrate success in the end. I think it’s fair to say that most adults don’t learn by being talked at or lectured to, they learn by experience and through trial and error.
What did you do prior to working at Neighborhood?
Before joining Neighborhood, I worked for six years for the YMCA of Greater Boston at their branch called Training, Inc. My role entailed designing, developing, and facilitating a healthcare administration learning program to support participants who had either recently immigrated to the United States or whose incomes were very low. I set up internships at Boston-area hospitals and health centers for the participants, helped them with resumes and interviewing, and referred them for jobs. I also worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, where I started off in the call center and eventually transitioned to their training department.
Of all the projects and committees you have worked on at Neighborhood, do any stand out as being especially meaningful?
Yes! Last year I was given the opportunity to become a member of Neighborhood’s Diversity Council and volunteered to lead a cohort of members to develop a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion learning strategy for the organization. It’s been an honor to work with this group on such an important initiative – I’m excited for everyone at Neighborhood to learn about the educational strategy we developed.
Tell us a little bit about the years you spent growing up – sharing what helped shaped your future.
I am originally from Dorchester, Massachusetts, which is part of Boston. Regardless of where I land, Dorchester will always be home to me. That said, I also spent a lot of time at my maternal Grandmother’s house in Cambridge. She was my role model and helped shape me into the person I have become today. I loved how peaceful it was at her house and that there was structure there with a plan for every day. I learned so much from her including the importance of respecting everyone from all walks of life.
I am the youngest of four so growing up was exciting, to say the least. I was the first sibling to graduate college, so that was pretty exciting. I earned a B.A. in Psychology from Suffolk University. I was very close with both of my parents and was fortunate to be with each of them at the time of their passing, as I was their primary caregiver. My Mum passed in 2012 and my Dad in 2015. I was and still am very close to my siblings. I don’t have children of my own but am very close to my nine nieces and nephews who have lovingly nicknamed me “Baboo”.
Did anyone or anything inspire you to pursue a specific career path?
I first discovered that I wanted to enter the learning space 20 years ago. In particular, it was my experience as a new hire that pointed me in this direction. The experience was a poor one. The classroom training and subsequent shadowing program just wasn’t what it needed to be to truly help a new employee. About a year after I started, a position opened up in the training department. I decided I wanted to be one of the first people that new hires encountered as they joined the organization. I knew that I could bring the energy, enthusiasm, and care that would prove helpful to them.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love to travel and just returned from a trip with my boyfriend and his children to the Azores. We have a lot of fun together and there is never a dull moment. I also love hanging out with my feline fur-baby named Koji. He is so sweet and loving.
Share a “Fun Fact” with us. Something about you that others might find surprising or intriguing.
I am a huge fan of classic movies. As a child, I spent a lot of time around my Grandmother as well as with my parents who were on the older side when they had me, so I was raised on the classics and developed an affinity for them. They bring back happy memories. A few of my all-time favorites are Mildred Pierce with Joan Crawford and Casablanca with Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. I also can’t help but look at these films through a historical, sociological and political lens. They can provide great insight about what was happening at different periods in early to mid-20th century America.
What advice or motto would you share with someone interested in your field or career?
One of my favorite sayings is, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind”. It’s critical, in the learning space, to always show kindness. Everyone is coming from a different place and has a different learning style. The one thing that can connect everyone is being kind.