We had the good fortune of connecting with Erin Arnheim and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erin, what principle do you value most?
Integrity matters most to me. When I think of the word Integrity, I think of someone who strives to be honest in all they do and sticks to their moral principles even if that comes with a personal cost. Although being honest can be uncomfortable, it is crucial. And although sticking to our guiding moral principles can cost us personal or professional relationships with people who may not agree, for example regarding our stance on racial justice, I stand firmly that these principles matter deeply.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
• For over 20 years, I worked in the financial services industry. However, I have been deeply embedded in the nonprofit world since childhood through volunteer opportunities, serving abroad, giving financially, serving on Boards, and leading community engagement initiatives in the workplace. I hit a crossroads in 2016 when I was not chosen for an internal corporate social responsibility role. Not knowing what to do next, I remained in my current role, feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. A second crossroads came in 2019 when I was laid off. I decided to look for positions not just in financial services but also for roles in community engagement and the nonprofit sector because I wanted to take a leap to fulfill a dream. In 2020, I was hired as the COO of Legacy Collective, a giving circle community that funds nonprofits working to solve systemic issues with sustainable solutions. After only a few months, I was promoted to CEO of Legacy Collective. This role perfectly combines my financial services experience and my passion for helping nonprofits. We are a community of givers granting funds to nonprofits domestically and abroad. We have recently launched Corporate Giving Circles for corporate philanthropy. We are launching City Giving Circles as a way for convention and conference attendees to give back to host cities. I’d always wished that I had more to give to make a greater impact, and leading Legacy Collective as part of the larger collective giving movement is a dream come true! I get to see and hear the stories of impact that nonprofits are making as they address systemic issues! • I have learned 3 key lessons. 1) When you feel unsettled, it is for a reason. Keep fighting to figure out that reason within yourself because once you solve the puzzle, the level of personal satisfaction is unbelievable. 2) Never stay in a role due to the “golden handcuffs”. I was terrified to leave my role in financial services because I knew I would have to take a significant pay cut. However, I have learned to live on less and somehow have more. Job satisfaction and personal fulfillment are worth more than a big paycheck or bonus ever were. 3) Fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. I worked in a white male-dominated industry for years. I faced many challenges being female including some instances of sexual harassment. Now I have the chance to stand in the gap for others without fear of losing my job. This is a privilege, and I take it seriously. I use my platform to stand up for those who need others to jump in and fight alongside them and for them.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
• It would be with my best friend Jesse from Chicago – we travel the world together! We would stay at Hotel San Jose on South Congress. I have admired it for years when we would stop in for cocktails and have always wanted to stay there. Their bungalows are adorable! • First up would be breakfast at the original Kerby Lane Café on Kerby Lane. For those of us who have lived in Austin since it was a small town, this is what true original Austin is all about. A mimosa, Kerby queso, and their killer pancakes. The restaurant is in a house with art from local artists on the walls.
• Then, we would walk around Town Lake (which is now called Lady Bird Lake, but as a long-time Austinite, I won’t call it anything else) and possibly rent a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. I haven’t had this adventure yet, and Jesse is the perfect person to share it with!
• We would do one dinner at our favorite sushi spot Uchiko. We love sitting there for hours and letting the waitstaff surprise us with the next course! The other dinner would be at the Saltlick. It is this amazing BBQ spot on the outskirts of Austin in a ranch setting with a winery. You can spend hours there eating delicious food and drinking great wine at huge picnic tables and sometimes listen to live music, as well.
• And we would not end the weekend without spending time walking, shopping, and eating our way around South Congress with a stop in front of the famous “I Love You So Much” sign!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
• Jen Hatmaker, Legacy’s Co-Founder, is incredibly worthy of this shoutout! She has used her influence to connect me to women that I can learn from; she has stood up for me in uncomfortable situations unlike anyone I have ever worked with; and she has made sure that I feel supported, loved, and appreciated for not only my work but for who I am as a person. • I’d also like to give a shoutout to a group of fellow female nonprofit Executive Directors and CEOs. We banded together in early 2021 to help one another navigate leading our nonprofits, leading in a pandemic, and supporting one another as challenges arose. We are each other’s cheerleaders and support system in life and in our careers, as well! It has become a beautiful story of women coming together to encourage and support one another personally and professionally.