The Civic Engagement Academy (CEA) is a training program that provides community members with the tools needed to create lasting positive change. The trainings are meant to support local problem-solving that is driven by community members themselves. The “CEA Takeaways” series features testimonials from attendees.

Colleen Duran has devoted her life to service, participating in both Literacy AmeriCorps and Peace Corps, in addition to working in the nonprofit sector her entire professional career. Currently, she is the Volunteer Coordinator at the Gift of Life Donor Program, where she manages a volunteer program of over 500 participants. This is the largest group of volunteers she has ever managed, which ultimately led her to attend the Civic Engagement Academy (CEA) Learning Series on Timelines and Benchmarking.

Colleen said that she was very impressed after attending the CEA in a Day training in March, sharing a piece of wisdom from her grandmother: “If you get one good recipe out of a cookbook, then it’s worth it.” Colleen added that even though her grandmother was a professional cook for 50 years, she was always eager to learn more and grow her skills. Taking after her grandmother, although Colleen already has a lot of experience engaging volunteers and organizing, she knows that there is always more to learn.

In her current position, Colleen works with people and communities to help them reach the goals they have for spreading the word about organ and tissue donation. The volunteers at Gift of Life consist of organ donor family members and recipients of an organ or tissue donation. Studies show that the vast majority of people support organ donation, but that only about 50 percent of people are actually registered donors. Colleen voiced that it’s important to get the word out through sharing the stories of folks that have been directly impacted by donations in order to encourage others to register.

In April, Colleen managed over 200 volunteers at the 24th Annual Donor Dash. This event offers an important opportunity to build relationships between those that donate, those that have received organs and advocates for the Gift of Life mission. Colleen also manages an average of 50 community outreach events a month and is always eager to learn about how she can manage them better.

In reflecting on how this training on Timelines and Benchmarking will impact her work, she said that her “recipe” from the CEA is The Rule of Seven. The Rule of Seven is the idea that potential volunteers have to see volunteer opportunities over and over again in different formats—up to seven times—in order to actually take action. To implement The Rule of Seven, Colleen plans to work with her community engagement team to brainstorm what those seven diverse touches will look like.