Volunteer Spotlight: Ian Farrell

Every volunteer at Zeno who devotes even a few hours of time to Zeno contributes to Zeno’s success. We profile volunteers who not only bring themselves and their skill sets to the table but who whole-heartedly believe in Zeno’s cause and show their dedication with their time and effort year after year.

Ian FarrellOver the past 5 years, Ian Farrell has been that kind of volunteer. At his day job, he is the manager of a downtown Seattle branch of Key Bank. At Zeno, he volunteers in the finance and fund development committees to help assess Zeno’s financial health and set fiscal goals.

Both his roles revolve around Ian’s love for math, which started in second grade. Ian loved solving logic puzzles and enjoyed math challenges. During his college years at the University of Kansas, he met Megan Wildenradt. Ian’s passion for math led him to number crunching careers leading up to his present role of branch manager. He kept in touch with his college friend Megan, who went on to become Zeno’s Director of Development and Communications.

One Mathfest in 2008, Megan invited Ian to help. He was tasked with the registration booth duties. That event turned out to be a huge success, both for Zeno and for Ian. It gave Ian immense gratification to see so many kids engage meaningfully in math, and solving logic problems with relish. After that, there was no looking back.

Since that first Mathfest in 2008, Ian has attended 6 out of 7 Mathfests, be it in Seattle or on the Eastside. He has helped Zeno in a variety of roles. Ian has enjoyed working at the various tables at Mathfest. At one memorable Mathfest, Ian was tasked with the River Crossing booth. For those not familiar with this logic puzzle, the kids had to figure out the least number of crossings required to take a set number of animals across the river. He could have verbally explained the problem or drawn it out or used actions; instead, Ian figured, to understand and solve the puzzle, you had to be a part of it. His team of volunteers created a makeshift river on the gym floor and physically acted out the river crossing. For the kids, solving the puzzle was now personal. They were no longer looking at the puzzle from outside, but were actually in it!  It was a very cool experience for Ian to watch their enthusiasm and involvement.

Ian is now in Zeno’s finance and fund development committees, where he is helping Zeno pave a path for the future. In his meetings and conference calls with the board, he is learning the path that Zeno has taken in past years, so he could couple it with a disciplined plan for the future. He brings to the table his 13 years of banking experience with focus on sales and management, and the invaluable lessons of communication and discipline from the corporate world, and a sincere commitment to keep Zeno moving in the right direction.

Ian says he keeps coming back to math, for a simple reason. “Math is fun, bottom line.” He wants to spread his love and passion to help other kids at the elementary age understand math so it rewards them with healthy returns in career and personal life. To him, moving between the two worlds of corporate and non-profit is seamless, because both Zeno and his employer are in the business of helping people. Both thrive on interpersonal relationships. Zeno’s mission is to develop relationships within the Seattle community for donations, grants, and school programs. In Ian’s words, it is “the wonderful people working for Zeno and the human element they bring to their approach to math” that sets this non-profit apart and will help Zeno fulfill its mission.

This week’s volunteer post is from Anusha Rao, Advisor for Volunteer Communications and Social Media. Anusha has been dabbling in the blog world for several years, she reviews children’s literature for Saffron Tree and writes about parenting joys at Talking Cranes.

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