Sheila has blended her “pulling people together” expertise into creating several entities. Martin founded Network Denver in 2002 to host events that would introduce non-profit organizations to the business community. Non-profits can reach new resources: donors, board members, volunteers, event attendees and gain more awareness for their cause. Business professionals learn about non-profits and the different ways they can support them.
Through her other “brainchild” – Board Magic, Sheila customizes services for each client to include: board development and managing their technology, members, and meetings by offering effective event management, association management, and how to use all the technical tools available to them.
Growing up as a “navy brat,” Martin faced several difficult experiences in her childhood, but she bravely moved forward and has accepted that the adversity and challenges she had to face were all part of her meaningful journey. As a teenager, Sheila went to work on seeking her purpose in life. She began doing volunteer work with Youth Against Cancer (with the American Cancer Society) and worked as a candy striper at the Sacred Heart Hospital in their Operating Room.
Sheila moved to Colorado and worked in corporate sales. Although she had a successful career (which allowed her to travel to many different places), she realized she wasn’t “making a difference within her community” as she had hoped. Among other kind deeds, Sheila began volunteering with non-profits such as Big Brothers / Big Sisters, Hudson Gardens and American Red Cross. She’s also been involved with non-profit business organizations like Toastmasters, eWN, WBE and various Chambers of Commerce. After the events of 9-11, Sheila did some soul-searching on how she can become even more involved with non-profits, and hence Network Denver was born.
From all of her experiences, Sheila says: “I’ve gained an understanding, insight, compassion and strength that I might not otherwise have. I knew I had to overcome struggles to re-establish my own sense of self worth, boundaries and identity.” Reaching out to help others attain that same sense of well-being is something Sheila Martin now does every day of her life. One of the most meaningful statements Sheila has made: “I want to help people realize how much they matter, because I grew up thinking that I didn’t matter” has been the basis for the many purposeful goals Sheila has sought to accomplish in her life. Sheila has become so committed to helping non-profits and people succeed, that she often dives into her projects saying: “Even if that means still being up working at 4 a.m.”
Sheila now also understands how important it is to have a balanced life. She has found true happiness with a wonderful man and is engaged to be married in the near future. Sheila Martin is so worthy of a rewarding, well-lived life. To know Sheila Martin is to love her - What a good woman!
What do you see on the horizon for non-profits and what can they do to stay connected to their donors and supporters?
The challenges non-profits face in order to accomplish their purpose are significant, and I think we'll see even more creativity in communication, fundraising, and operations. To reach beyond the core of supporters who've already been touched by their cause, I believe it's vital to address the motivation of donors and volunteers. Those who reassess their community presence, website, and social media, streamline operations, utilize technology, and attract new talent will fare best.
Tell us about your upcoming plans for Network Denver and/or Board Magic – or have you come up with another innovative way to connect non-profits and businesses?
We're asking the non-profit community to weigh in on upcoming plans. A few years ago we sent a survey with the Jerry McGuire theme "Help Me Help You!" - and it's time to do so again. We'll post a survey link on www.boardmagic.com with questions that address their current challenges, needs, and successes. We may resume the monthly networking socials and non-profit showcases, perhaps adding workshops or specific topics. Hearing from them directly will enable us to determine how to help them succeed.
Is there a special “aha moment” in your life when you knew “I get it now!”?
I always had a picture in my head of a "philanthropist" and I believed that someday, perhaps in my retirement, I'd "become" one. I remember when the Network Denver idea knocked me on the head. I KNEW without question that this was exactly what I was supposed to do and I could make a difference NOW, not decades from now.
What is your proudest achievement?
A few years ago the Jaycees honored me with the Outstanding Young Coloradoan award and the Denver Business Journal recognized me as one of Denver’s Forty Under 40. Both awards were for founding Network Denver which connects the business community with our non-profit community allowing the non-profits to reach new resources while the business professionals are introduced to opportunities to make a difference. I was proud to be in the great company of the other award winners and have my "aha moment" validated. More than 200 non-profits have been showcased and networked with nearly 2000 business professionals since 2002.
If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title of it be?
"The Little Firecracker That Could". My friends have always called me a firecracker and a survivor.
You and Tom are traveling quite a bit these days, what is your idea of a perfect vacation – and have you already been there?
We had both traveled a lot before we met, but somehow everything is new and much better when I experience it with Tom. So far our favorite vacation was Maui, and we recommend the book "Maui Revealed" if you want to find all the little known hidden waterfalls, trails and secret places! Perfect for us usually includes water and warm weather, with a combination of hiking/activities and total down-time for reading.
How does one hold on to their true self and still become successful?
Ideally, following one's true self is exactly what leads to success. Figuring out your unique talents, no matter what role or job you have, can give you purpose and even joy. Pursue that with enthusiasm. Most important to me is to surround yourself with people you really like, respect and who support your true self. Sounds simple, but...
What are your favorite leisure time activities or hobbies?
There is so much to do in Colorado! Tom and I love to travel, go to Rockies games and outdoor concerts, play games (boggle and bridge addicts), hike, garden, golf, enjoy the mountains and spend quality time with friends.
You are obviously a very capable and talented woman, what other talent do you wish you had been born with?
Being only 5' tall the obvious answer is height :) Truly, one magical talent I'd love to have would be Samantha’s (Bewitched) ability to wiggle her nose and be anywhere, stop time, clean the house, make someone forget the foolish thing I just said...
How can all of us deal with past experiences that haven't been positive or pleasant and learn to move on - so we can go forward and live our best life?
How about let's make millions writing a book?! Seriously, I can't say that I know there must be a reason for everything, but I do like Chin-Ning Chu's thought that "Our negative experiences in life are essential elements for us to fulfill our intended destiny." While the negative experiences can teach us or even fuel our fires, hanging on to blame, anger, guilt, sadness, regret, etc. makes us blind to possibilities of the future. We have to take responsibility for our part of the experiences when appropriate, learn whatever lessons we're clever enough to discern, protect ourselves from future similar situations, then go forward.
What do you have to say to all the young women out there ready to take on the future? Recognize your power. Identify your role models and mentors. Embrace and support women as well as men in your career. No games. Be competent and fair and you will shine.
If you could go back 20 years in your life, what advice would you give yourself?
Invest in Microsoft.
What can someone offer to do for a non-profit if they don’t have a lot of money to contribute at the time?
There is so much opportunity! Most non-profits have very specific in-kind donation requests and volunteer needs, but often a person's talents or interests that fall outside of that list are needed. People may hesitate to get involved because of fear of long term commitment or requests for donations, but non-profits offer a range of opportunities from one-time to ongoing. Find a cause that speaks to you and get involved in a way that you find meaningful, or just attend any of the fund raising events listed on the Black Tie Colorado calendar.
What can always make you laugh?
Witty brains! I love improv, esp. when it comes unintentionally from friends. Also, a dog snoring always gets me.
What can make you cry?
Thinking about the people I've lost touch with that probably don't even realize how they touched my life.
If your life was being made into a movie, which actress would you pick to play you?
Ha! Two that come to mind are Dolly Parton and Sally Field. Both exude genuine warmth and are bright, funny women with depth. Wait, I'm not funny, so that won't work…
You are such an outgoing people-person; do you ever get nervous right before you know you will be speaking to a large group of people?
Absolutely, but it's much easier when the topic is a cause or person I respect. Also, I highly recommend Toastmasters for everyone. Great for getting rid of the ums, ya knows and jitters.
Is there somewhere other than Denver you would like to live? Maybe someday?
I love living in Denver! Being from the Gulf Coast of Florida I need my beach fix periodically, and I really enjoy experiencing other communities in the U.S. and abroad, but for every day living, I definitely choose Colorado.
What’s in the future for Sheila Martin?
Planning our wedding! We're going to include our Celtic heritage, so Tom's wearing a kilt and we’ll have bagpipes, but that's all so far. Also, now that I have time again I'm looking for a new Board Magic project, either as an Executive Director or outsourced services. When I founded ND, I was often awake till the wee hours excitedly planning. I love to feel that enthusiasm and purpose of knowing I'm making a difference.
How do you want to be remembered by future generations?
She genuinely cared and made a difference.
What do you believe is your true life's purpose?
I'm certain that I'm meant to make a difference within our non-profit community, yet I also feel that if I can bring love and friendship into each of my relationships as a daughter, wife, mother, neighbor, and friend, then I’m trying to be the best me I can be.