VP of Development John Boots
You’ve served as a PCON Board member longer than any active member, what accomplishments are you most proud of over the last few years?
Wow, thanks for sharing a fact I hadn’t heard before! It’s a mix of both personal growth, team achievement, and PCON advancement. First was weathering the storm of 2020 and, in conjunction with our Development team, taking PCON to its highest dollar impact number in history to that point (over $200k when pairing VP and CD). To do that despite the insanity of 2020 ignited a fire that led our VP team last year, again in conjunction with Development, to grow that impact number for a second consecutive year. Finally last year I was thrilled that every member of the VP team either championed or backup championed a grant – another first as far as I’m aware. To get everyone on the team plugged in to the nuts and bolts of PCON’s VP work was a big achievement. Beyond that being personally able to spend lots of time every week giving back to a community that has given so much to me is deeply fulfilling.
You started your own real estate consulting firm last year, what motivated you to launch Expedition Group?
A few years ago my Dad, when discussing my professional future, casually commented that it had been clear for years to him and my Mom that I’d never be happy with a boss. He was right, and last year was simply the right time to jump out on my own. Expedition Group provides a way to work for myself while embodying the servant leader mentality that I apply in PCON – I help developers and partners get deals done from start to finish. It’s truly fulfilling to help others achieve their come-ups, and I’m hoping that this work will lead to my professional come-up through the process of helping others grow.
In your opinion, how has PCON’s venture philanthropy model advanced both fundraising and corporate development?
If memory serves correctly our fundraising and Corporate Development (now Development) work all came as a result of the desire to magnify VP’s impact. The last two years showed first that strong CD partnerships can help us double our impact, and second that building longer term partnerships can allow us to lever our impact well beyond 2X. In many talks with current VP VP Pat O’Brien last year, we realized that VP is the product that Development can sell, and that if we expand our Development focus beyond companies, we can find more partners and ultimately more dollars to reinvest in the underserved youth of Middle Tennessee. Development now seeks multiple kinds of investment – first coinvestment in our specific VP grants, second in supporting events through sponsorships, third in direct investments to PCON in general to be reinvested in nonprofits at our discretion, and fourth in non-dollar contributions (think equipment, furniture, even monetary assets) so that we can reach a larger audience and grow impact significantly without being just another nonprofit raising funds.
What one word would you use to describe yourself?
Real. I am who I am to everyone in my life. No facades, you get me as I am.
What is something you believed when you were 18 that you wished you still believed now?
Speaking only for myself, I used to believe that there were lots of people out there who would look out for you as you trek through life regardless of whether you ask for help or not as you make your way. My path has shown that you have to ask for what you want, especially professionally, to get anywhere. I am teaching my kids to be assertive, self-assured, and ready to take action to get where they want to go in life. Funny because I’m still learning that for myself.