Name: Rachel Miner
Role: Executive Director
Location: New York, USA
When asked how she wound up as our Executive Director, Rachel Miner answered with her signature positivity, “Plain beautiful luck, and serendipity.”
Naturally, there is much more to it than that. Rachel, who has been our Executive Director since 2017 is among many things, a self described charity geek. For most of her life, she has studied philanthropy, loving to dig into the details of how to make the lives around her a little brighter.
“This area has always been deeply important to me, of trying to figure out how to do as much good in the world.” she says. “It’s literally when I’d wish on an eyelash…since I was a little girl, it was always about hoping I could do as much good in the world as possible. Create the best, most beautiful effects I could with my life.”
Like most of us venturing into a new endeavor, she was not 100% confident she was up for the challenge of leading the Random Acts team – at first. Board Member Michelle Henning and Co-Founder Misha Collins, both of whom knew of her studies and temperament, encouraged her to follow her dream. And indeed, under her direction, Random Acts has flourished and grown. It is a safe space for all employees, a place where she fosters the ideal that “We can be allies to each other”.
Rachel’s leadership strength is her ability to understand the emotional needs of the staff and help facilitate the best outcome for them and the organization. “What I lean on a lot of the time is whatever emotional intelligence I have,” she explains. “Certainly as an actress that’s something I spend a lot of time doing. So what will truly make a group flourish is really about knowing emotionally what all of the people in that group need and what would make you feel empowered, and good, and able to do your job. So I try to be confident in that logic, above having to show that I know what I’m doing or that I have power, etc.”
When she began her tenure, she had a pretty important goal: to galvanize the organization and adjust the culture. “One of the things I knew from the get-go in terms of what my leadership would be, was that I do not feel that we can go out and do a good job in the world of spreading kindness and sharing compassion with people if we don’t start internally. So… I try really hard with our policies to constantly work towards being a really abnormally compassionate, supportive kind group. That is a constant work in progress.”
This is an area in which we at Random Acts are consistently improving. As we have grown, we have added positions with HR, Outreach, and most recently DEI (Diversity, Equality, Inclusion) to make sure that as an organization, we are always trying internally to create the best work place possible.
If it sounds like Random Acts staff are treated more like employees than volunteers, that is by design. The staff attends meetings, have a virtual workspace, and put in many voluntary hours a week to keep our organization running. While you may assume many hands make light work, the truth is that many minds lead to many more kindness ideas. The overall feeling at Random Acts is cooperation; never competitive, ego driven, or credit seeking amongst the staff. That sort of ethos starts from the top with Rachel and is encouraged through the directors, managers, and all of the staff.
She accomplishes this by making it a point to have a one-on-one meeting with each staff member as they come on board. In any other sort of organization, it would be unheard of for an executive director to take on such a task. But for Rachel, it is important that she truly knows the goals and hopes of everyone that works for Random Acts. And for the staff, it helps foster the connection and sense of community.
“I think the strength in Random Acts is in the fact that I’ve done my best to empower every single staff member to share their unique view of the world. And their passions as to how we do good in the world… I’m never going to be able to see everything that’s going on and where people are needing help. But as an organization, especially the bigger we become, our strength is that we have eyes in so many communities all over the world.”
In our team profiles, we always like to ask our staff what projects they would like to see us take on in the future. Rest assured that Random Acts has a few tricks up our sleeves for 2021 and beyond. But for now, Rachel shared what her overall vision for the future of the organization will be, no matter what we take on.
“Random Acts will be continuing our focus on how to find projects where people are falling through the cracks. Our strength is in our storytelling as well. It’s not only funding these projects but bringing peoples attention to systems that can either help or aren’t really working for people.”
“To me, the projects that I love always involve people in multiple ways,” she says. “So that anyone knows they can be a part of making this world better for each other, and being a part of this grand game, with whatever means they have. With whatever we have to give of ourselves.
“What is really important to all of our projects… is that there be a plethora of ways that people can get involved and feel a part of making that project flourish.”