February VISTA Spotlight

February 20, 2020

I had the pleasure of interviewing ex-VISTA LaNae Edwards. LaNae used to be a VISTA at Illinois Joining Forces, an organization that provides many types of care, support, and resources to veterans and their families when they need it. I had the opportunity to catch up with her and get to know what she is up to nowadays, professionally. 

As a VISTA, LaNae worked as the organization’s community outreach liaison. While in that role, she worked with the senior director of development and she set up meetings for potential partnerships, helped with social media engagement, assisted with community outreach initiatives such as helping plan a backyard bbq for local veterans, and she also worked with the veterans program to help bring awareness to women veteran’s issues. 

While she did enjoy some parts of her service, there were some things that she felt could’ve improved her service. Due to the organization being small, LaNae often had to wear “many hats” in addition to carrying a heavy workload as a VISTA. The organization was also in a state of development. “It was a lot. It was also an all hands on deck type of environment,” she said. LaNae also wishes that her service would have stayed close to her VAD. Despite her hardships as a VISTA at her host site, LaNae was proud of the accomplishments she made during her VISTA experience. She successfully helped put together a retreat for her organization’s board members, learned how to write grants, assisted in helping to establish Women’s Day, a day that celebrates women veterans, and she applied to law school.

Nowadays, LaNae still works for Illinois Joining Forces but she is in a full-time position as their business operations analyst. Within her role, LaNae does capacity building, helps to establish standard permit procedures within the organization and assists with state audits. So far, she likes her new role and it further allows her to see the importance of non-profits. “Learning how tasks work behind the scenes has really opened my eyes to just how much work non-profits do. Seeing how my site developed social media strategies and learning how grants are written and proposed was a very valuable experience. Knowing those things helps me perform my current role well.”

We at Campus Compact Illinois wish LaNae the very best in her future endeavors!