How to Support a Leader

Mar 21, 2022

Mary Hsu is a retired legislative aide and executive assistant who has worked in local and state government, including for former King County Executive Ron Sims and Washington Governor Gary Locke. She’s always been engaged in her community, so volunteering comes naturally to her. 

Mary’s current Companis placement is at the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) assisting the President and CEO, LaNesha DeBardelaben. “The museum gains my skills and experience but in return it’s extremely rewarding for me because I am learning so much about Black culture and arts and also about the museum and its role and mission in the community.” Having worked for a lot of political figures, Mary sees her role at NAAM as helping to make the CEO’s life a little easier. “I can help with the administrative details so LeNesha can focus on the big picture.” 

When it comes to offering advice to others who have retired and are thinking about volunteering, Mary says, “I really think that a transition like that benefits from the kind of support and role Companis plays.” She also says to be successful as a volunteer, one needs to be open to having a learning curve. “For me, it was tech stuff. I was spoiled because I had an IT staff. Now, I have to figure out more things for myself but, then again, why not? The key is to be flexible.”  

Mary believes in staying curious and she credits Companis for understanding what makes a good match for nonprofits and volunteers. “Being at NAAM has been stimulating and a great learning experience. The work has made a lot of things relevant to me.”