Beth Rubins is the grant writer for Vegas PBS with more than 13 years in nonprofit fundraising. Prior to her role at Vegas PBS, she was the director of grants and program support for Communities in Schools of Nevada. A long-time resident of Las Vegas, Beth believes her social work background is critical toward her work in the sector. In her free time, she lifts weights (Olympic style!) and teaches at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Here’s a short Q&A with Beth, who will be joining us for Upswell this November.
Q: In a few sentences, tell us who you are – what drives you, what you’re working on, and why you’re inspired to make the world a better place.
BR: I’ve been in the nonprofit field my entire career—primarily focused on grant writing, program management, and organizational development. I have a master’s in social work and an undergraduate degree in cognitive sciences, and in my early career was engaged in direct social service work. I’ve worked for organizations of all sizes in a variety of roles, ranging from full-time, to operating a consulting business, to teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level. In the last few years, I’ve become involved in a variety of broad community-wide initiatives in my region, served on several boards, and sought out ways to lead from within the changemaking sector. I derive great personal inspiration from opportunities to work cross-organizationally and cross-functionally, whether that is in the form of a local convening or on a broader scale. I believe that the most mutually beneficial relationships in our sector (and our sector is primarily driven by relationships!) are those that are developed out of respect, transparency, and a spirit of partnership.
Q: What’s your favorite way to relax?
BR: Olympic Weightlifting! A few years ago I lost a significant amount of weight through changing my lifestyle and diet, so I began strength training with a powerlifting program at a wonderful small gym. After a few months, I saw my gym buddies having a lot of fun doing Olympic Weightlifting (snatch and clean & jerk are the two movements in Oly), and I decided to give it a shot! I had never been an athlete or in any way motivated to be physical, so it came as an enormous surprise that I fell in love with a sport (in my thirties, no less!). I’ve been doing it for almost two years, and I can’t imagine life without it now. It’s very stress relieving for me, as the sport is incredibly mental and requires total focus—my brain cannot do anything else while I’m doing Oly, so it’s effective at helping redirect my mental energy after a long day!
Q: What drew you to a career in the social sector?
BR: I’d been exposed to social service work my entire life—my father is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and my mother is both an Episcopal priest and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, so a career in the social services felt like a great fit for my personality and the impact I wanted to have on the world. I’m the only one of my parents’ three children to follow in their footsteps, my younger brother has a technology startup working in the AI and Big Data field, and my older sister happens to be a NASA Astronaut. I suppose that each of us is helping the world in our own way, but I’m certainly the only one of the three of us to be directly involved in the social sector!
Q: Upswell is about breaking the mold. What’s one thing you’d like to see in the conversation that doesn’t get enough national attention?
BR: I’d very much like to see more movement toward diversity, equity, and inclusion on the broader scale, particularly within established institutions with complex operations and organizational cultures (i.e. those that are likely the slowest to adapt to change due to organizational inertia, as well as their complexity). I’d also very much like to see that conversation extended to the relationships between philanthropic organizations and the nonprofits and communities they serve—I’d like to see more organizations adopt trust-based grantmaking and actively work to reduce power imbalances and disrupt the status quo of funding relationships.