Stepping down, but not walking away
By: Jess Murphy
After nearly nine years of working to develop, launch, and grow the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, I will be departing my position as President and Executive Director of the organization on October 2. It is heartbreaking to me to step away from this job, which has been the honor of my life. But as I begin a school year in which my older children are attending all-virtual classes, and as my four-month-old’s childcare has been put on hold due to Covid-19 policies, it is clear that my most important job right now is to support my family’s needs. I owe it to my kids to be as supportive to them possible during this very challenging time in their lives, and I owe it to the Lake Hopatcong Foundation to step aside so the group can have a leader whose attention will be focused on the operations and mission of the organization.
I am so grateful to have been a part of the founding and fledgling years of what I hope will be a very long history for the Lake Hopatcong Foundation. Since early 2012, when Béla Szigethy, Marty Kane, Tom Flinn, Lauren Rossi, and I kicked off the Foundation, I’ve spent years learning and growing with the organization, and I’m so thankful for all that this job has given me over that time—helping students learn about the lake at our field trips; seeing the community come together at the annual Block Party; watching the Lake Hopatcong Train Station transform into the community and office space that it is today; bringing together coalitions to help protect the lake environment; and so much more. Most of all, I value the friendships of those with whom I have been fortunate enough to work, whether staff members, board members, volunteers, or donors. During these years at the helm, I have tried to cultivate a feeling a warmth and friendliness at the LHF, and am so proud that today it is such a thriving organization that brings joy and a sense of collective purpose to so many.
This is not a farewell! I plan to enthusiastically volunteer, attend fundraising events, and help in any way needed at the Foundation in the months and years ahead. So although this particular chapter is closing, it will not be the end of my time working and sweating and hustling for the lake and community for which I care so deeply.
For now, though, you will find me quizzing my oldest daughter in fifth-grade math, practicing spelling words with my second-grader son, begging my toddler daughter to eat something other than goldfish crackers, and encouraging my baby boy to crawl (but not too fast!). And, of course, savoring the occasional quiet moment with my husband, and escaping the home-confined chaos by taking our dog on extra-long walks. Although I will miss the day-to-day joy of working with my LHF team, I’m very proud of the brood I lead at home, and I know my situation is shared by many who are also grappling with managing a young family through these very uncertain times.
I have so much confidence in the LHF’s incredible staff, who work diligently and passionately every day on behalf of the lake: Donna, Holly, Roberta, Caitlin, and Melanie are total rockstars, and the lake is so lucky to have each of them dedicating their professional lives to its cause. I will miss being with them, and with all of you, but the LHF will never be far from my heart. Thank you for the amazing opportunity to meet so many of you and learn from you over years, and for all the happiness this job has given me. I hope to see you all again soon; for now, stay safe and enjoy the lake!