CPEP: Tracie Cloutier
Through innovative out-of-school programs, CPEP serves as a catalyst to significantly change under-represented students’ knowledge, attitude, and behaviors relating to the pursuit of STEM careers.
ENCORE TALENT: Passion for youth and transferable skills
Tracie Cloutier worked for more than two decades in the insurance industry, while she “raised up two boys, now grown and out the door.” In her encore career, she wanted something completely different: She longed to work with young people – “I was missing that kind of interaction with youth,” she said – and on projects that she felt passionate about.
She found her way to CPEP, the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program, which helps students improve foundational math and workforce-readiness skills and exposes them to careers – and academic paths – in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and medicine). She serves as a CPEP Project Director.
“When I started to think about what kind of encore I was looking for, I definitely wanted a youth-serving organization. I wanted to pursue something close to my heart,” Tracie says.
Despite some initial apprehension on her part, the transition was smooth and the organization, welcoming. “I was pleasantly surprised that so much of my corporate experience – my project management and communication skills – was actually transferable” to the nonprofit space, Tracie said. “They were very receptive to bringing in a fresh perspective.”
“When you bring together people who are passionate from a variety of areas and ages, there’s a lot of magic that can happen,” Tracie says. “That’s one of my favorite parts about making the transition to working in a nonprofit. There’s nothing more satisfying than having your work be something you’re passionate about and that improves the community.”
CPEP may be a world apart from the insurance business – but her work insures a brighter future for young people.
NONPROFIT BENEFITS: Passion, experience, humility, compassion
CPEP CEO Bruce Dixon can spot encore talent a mile away. His own journey from the insurance business to STEM education gives him a sharp eye for relevant skills and passion in candidates with for-profit experience. When he met Tracie Cloutier, who had 23 years of financial services experience, Bruce saw a new resource for his team.
“In considering experienced talent from another sector, first and foremost we look for people passionate about our mission, who wholeheartedly embrace the work. Second, we look to individuals over 50 who want to leverage their experiences while understanding that the nonprofit sector is drastically different than the for-profit sector. There’s a steep learning curve; humility and compassion are two words that would sum it up for us!”
Bruce’s advice for hiring managers considering 50+ talent and/or people from the corporate sector:
- Confirm that the mission is an absolute passion for the individual.
- In recruiting, paint a clear picture that demonstrates the “day in the life” of a nonprofit employee. Many people who have worked in for-profit corporations are accustomed to having more functional resources available to them. In many nonprofits, one must roll up their sleeves to do whatever needs to be done to further the organization’s mission.
- Create site visits for the individual to see first-hand the organization’s work and allow them to interact with participants/clients.
- Where possible, create an internship opportunity for the individual to assess organizational fit and interest.