Dara Bryan: Building a community

DB-headshot-May-2014Cape Cod Technology Council Board member Dara Bryan moved here four years ago for the summer, and liked it so much she came back the following spring in search of “a real career.” Not only did she find a career, she found a community.

But it wasn’t easy.

She discovered that there are two Cape Cods – the part-time job Cape, and the year round career Cape.

“The community on the Cape is very strong once you get in,” she says, “but it’s hard to find. I was used to looking for jobs online. That’s not the way it was done here.”

In her case, the way it’s done is to volunteer at Cape Cod Young Professionals, where she helped in the office and at events. It is CCYP that ran the Shape the Cape Survey, seeking a solution to the decline in young Barnstable County residents (25-44).

“Going to my first after hours event was so different from the summer waitressing community I had known before,” she explained. “It was a completely different Cape Cod for me. I couldn’t believe how many amazing, interesting people are here. I didn’t even know this existed. It showed me that there is a community, and that there are jobs that are year round and full time. ”

Dara became the second staff member at CCYP and worked there for almost a year. Through their events and the connections she made, Dara found her current job as Program Officer at the Cape Cod Foundation in March of 2013.

Because it made such a huge difference in Dara’s experience she is on the board of CCYP, where she chairs the Career Connect committee. “We work with high schools when we can,” she says of CCYP. “If you ever want to come back, we’re here for you. High school kids are like ‘get me out of here – there’s nothing here for me,’ but there are jobs. You can live here if you want to.”

Dara was also co-chair of CCYP’s Last Gasp Committee, and has ridden in the Last Gasp the last three years. In addition to CCYP, Dara is on the Philanthropy Day planning committee, is a member of the PR & Marketing Committee for the YMCA, and was named one of the “40 Under 40” leaders by Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine in 2014.

“It’s all connected,” she says. “People are trying to do similar things, in a good way. The Cape is a small place, so when you’re at a meeting you see a lot of the same people.”

She connects some of those people and projects through her work at the Cape Cod Foundation, where she manages scholarship programs and the Foundation’s grant programs. She is actively involved with the Foundation’s civic leadership initiatives, including the Cape-wide Youth Action Plan. Working with individuals, families and businesses that establish funds at the Foundation, Dara connects the individuals establishing the funds with people and projects in the community that need the support.

Dara says according to IRS reports there are about a thousand non-profit organizations on Cape Cod. “For our population size, that’s a lot. A lot of people are employed by non-profits and do great work.”

“We do this work for a place that we love,” she says.

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