20 Questions

Taylor Matson

  1. How would you describe yourself in 3 words? Empathetic, determined, and creative
  2. What draws you to nonprofit work? I am drawn to nonprofit work by my desire to help and support others and to give back to my community. I feel compelled to use my privilege and skill set to improve the lives of people who are less fortunate than myself. I believe nonprofits are essential to a compassionate and successful society. People first, profit second.
  3. What was the last piece of art (book, music, movie, etc) that moved you, and why? The book Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh. I discovered this book while on a personal retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs. I do not follow any strict philosophical code, but I lean towards Buddhism more than anything. This book reflects Zen Buddhist philosophy, and describes how to adapt it for many of the modern pressures of American life. I found that book at exactly the moment I needed to, when I was enjoying some much-needed time alone and reflecting on my life. It made such a deep impression that it brought me to tears.
  4. What was your first job, and what lesson did you take from it that you still use today? My first real job was working for a short time as a library assistant. I don’t remember much about that job, but one of my other first jobs was working as a deckhand on a small charter boat in Alaska. It was just me and the captain – we would take small groups of 2-4 out of Seward into Resurrection Bay for three days at a time to explore. It was exhausting, but it also taught me a lot, like to appreciate my childhood and the incredibly beautiful and unique environment I grew up in. I also learned how capable I am and that a good work ethic goes a long way.
  5. To be successful, what’s the most important skill a professional should develop? It’s hard to choose just one, but I would say communication skills. I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that communication is a key factor in basically everything we do in our day-to-day lives. We cannot be successful as human beings without it. And I think you can make up for other deficiencies or mistakes by simply communicating with the right people in the right ways at the right time. It’s not always easy, but it is always helpful and worthwhile.
  6. Who makes you laugh the hardest? My lifelong friends Molly and Maya who I grew up with in Alaska. We have known each other since we were about 4 years old and they have always been a primary source of fun and amusement in my life. They are exuberant and hilarious, while also very intelligent and talented women.
  7. What was the worst purchase you’ve ever made? None that I can think of.
  8. Dogs or cats? 100% dogs! They are one of the biggest sources of joy in my life. My pup Lily is a gorgeous and buff Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever mix, and she is the best dog ever! (Yes, I know everyone says that, but this time it’s true.)
  9. Beatles or Elvis? Beatles
  10. Who do you call first with good news? My partner, Jay. We have been friends for 8 years, since the moment we first met at WSU, and together for just over 2. He’s the one I share everything with!
  11. Who has most impacted your professional life? There have been so many wonderful individuals who have impacted my professional life. My long-time family friend and mentor Natasha Ala connected me with my first grant writing experience in Hawaii and guided me through it. My coworkers at the Val Ogden Center (Caitlin Weingarz, Sarah Bowens, Lance Carter, and Phil Heins) were my team at what I consider the real start to my professional life. They supported me in good times and bad at a job I was totally new at and often struggled with. They challenged and accepted me. They empowered me to take control of the direction of my life and showed me how wonderful it is to be myself. Finally, my team here at Westby has already profoundly impacted my professional life in the short time I have worked here. I would not be where I am or who I am today without all these incredible people who have guided my path and supported me. I am so grateful to you all!
  12. What was your first record, CD, or cassette you bought? Probably Maroon 5 – I had a long Maroon 5 phase when I was younger.
  13. Who do you wish you could meet again for the first time? Harry Potter (I know he’s fictional, but my ultimate dream would be to read the Harry Potter series again for the first time!)
  14. Favorite Holiday? Right now, I would say New Year’s Eve. I really like the idea of new beginnings which NYE represents for me.
  15. What travel experience has most influenced your life? I studied abroad in Scotland for a semester while I was going for my bachelor’s degree at WSU. Studying abroad was something I had really wanted to do since high school. It was a challenging, yet incredibly rewarding opportunity that I am so thankful to have experienced.
  16. What inspires you to do your best work? Knowing that the nonprofit organizations we work with and the projects I am working on are making communities and lives better inspires me. My compassionate, supportive, and talented team here at Westby also inspires me every day to do my best.
  17. How do you restore your energy when you’re feeling worn down or burnt out? This is a fairly common feeling for me as an introvert who is always busy. To restore my energy, I need lazy weekends to sleep in and not be constantly on a schedule. I like to take my dog for walks or to the park. Immersing myself in nature, (hiking, camping, swimming) helps restore my soul. I love to do yoga and read. And connecting with my friends (who are my soul family) helps as well.
  18. Is there a humanitarian that has left an impression on you? The Dalai Lama. He advocates for peace, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, and harmony amongst other things which really speaks to me and my goals in life.
  19. If a movie was made of your life, what actor or actress would you want to play you? Emma Watson. Not only is she a great actress, but she’s a feminist, activist, and humanitarian as well. I really admire how she uses her power and position to stand up for others and try to make the world better.
  20. Favorite movie quote? I can’t think of a favorite movie quote but this one from Rick and Morty — one of my favorite animated shows — came to mind: “Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.”

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