DER Member Spotlight – Ryan Hazelton, Executive Director, Mariposa Kids

As the Executive Director at Mariposa Kids, Ryan Hazelton oversees all of the administrative and development functions of the organization from HR to board management and organizational strategy to fundraising. Mariposa Kids is an out-of-school time program providing children ages 5-11 with after-school programming and summer camps in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Ryan first moved to San Francisco in 2007 to start a career in digital advertising, managing digital ad campaigns and carrying out business development with digital publishers. He soon found that those marketing skills were transferable to fund development.  Ryan recounts, “After an acquisition, I was laid off, which led me to some free time where I volunteered during the holidays with a development team at a nearby nonprofit that worked in early childhood education. One thing led to another and I was suddenly applying my advertising account management and business development skills in the nonprofit development field, which allowed me to combine both passion and skills. As time passed, I fell in love with and continue to be in love with fundraising for causes that serve children and families in the Bay Area.” He is most proud of releasing a 2023 Learning Report by Mariposa Kids that shows the positive influence the organization has had on childhood development.

Considering the future of the nonprofit fundraising field, Ryan anticipates donor engagement and event fundraising to change the most. He explains, “Finding new ways to engage donors while also raising money through activities that go beyond a traditional seated gala dinner seems to be at the top of conversations among many of my development colleagues. What I hope to see change moving forward is more widespread trust-based philanthropy so that nonprofits can focus more time on doing the good work we do and less time filling out overly complicated forms and reports to foundations and corporate social responsibility teams.”

Not only does Ryan have 12 years of experience in fundraising, but he also has completed coursework in trauma informed services through the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Ryan reflects, “It wasn’t until the collective trauma of the pandemic on our community that I was able to fully recognize the power of trauma informed services and how to fully implement it on a regular basis and throughout areas of work, internal and external facing. My work in education also had me working in person before many other sectors did, so showing up meant providing support for parents just trying to get their family through the week, motivating staff to keep doing what they were doing to show up for kids, and taking a step back to realize that no one knew what to expect because this was new for everyone. Now that our community’s activities are back in full swing, it is important and helpful to continue approaching work with the high level of patience, empathy, and compassion to be most effective in all aspects of work.”

Ryan has been a member of DER for five years and is currently participating in his third Executive Director Masterminds Series, where he has built connections and a supportive community with other executive directors. He finds that colleagues in the nonprofit sector deserve to take moments of rest and celebration. He concludes, “The work we do in the nonprofit world is hard and can be especially challenging when we see friends and colleagues in the private sector with financial means that reach beyond us or snacks in their breakroom we could only dream of. I find it helpful to regularly take moments to take in and celebrate what success looks like to me as a reminder of why I chose this line of work – to make sure every child in the city of San Francisco has the opportunity and the access to a healthy and happy childhood. I hope every member of DER and everyone working in the nonprofit sector remembers to take a moment, however brief it may be, to throw humility out the window to really celebrate and be proud of the good work we are doing. We deserve it, and we should feel we have permission to sit in that feeling so that we can recharge and do it another day.”