Donor Spotlight: Debra Miersma, PMI Fellow


01 February 2017

Published inPM Philanthropist (archived)

Debra Miersma

When you ask Debra Miersma about project management skills, she overflows with excitement and passion;

“I believe that project management is fundamental for children, youth, and adults to be successful in life. Absolutely fundamental. The ability to problem think through every aspect of a makes a huge difference.”

Debra first became involved with PMI through her local chapter, volunteering to start project management student clubs. As she observed the impact more effective project management had on her own work, Debra offered more and more of her time to PMI. She was elected to the PMI Board of Directors, and served as secretary/treasurer during her term.

Back then, the PMI Educational Foundation (PMIEF) primarily focused on providing college scholarships to students pursuing a career in project management. Debra joined the PMIEF board to assist in the transition to the expanded mission to create PM Ready Kids, PM Ready Non Profits, and
a PM Ready Workforce. The expanded mission benefits both commercial businesses and nonprofit organizations, as well as youth, who are introduced to PM as a fundamental life skill.

Debra shared her commitment for this vision, saying,

“We see a huge gap in project management abilities and talent throughout the workforce as Baby Boomers are retiring. We must inspire, encourage, and train young people to come in and fill project management's essential to drive business success in the future.”

Today, Debra is focusing on consulting and project management in the nonprofit world, so she keeps connected to PMIEF:

“Project managers help make nonprofits successful. The leaders of nonprofits are focused on delivering their mission, but are usually not skilled in managing strategic projects.. With the addition of project management capabilities, nonprofits are able to serve their constituents even better...and make their community an even better place to live and work.”

Her current volunteer service includes a soup kitchen and food pantry in Ohio. Several years ago, the kitchen needed to renovate a building in order to move out of a rented space into a commercial kitchen and expand their capabilities to serve more people. In a previous renovation project, the kitchen didn’t use a project manager. For seven years, volunteers came and went, before the work was completed. During that time, the organization continued to pay double rent, siphoning money away from feeding the hungry.

The kitchens realized they needed a project manager. Debra - and her project manager husband - heard about the situation and jumped in as the project manager for the project. Debra coordinated contractors, recruited and coordinated volunteers, contacted donors for needed materials, and set achievable goals. Within seven months, the renovation was complete and the organization moved into their new facility!
“That's one of the joys of project management—and PMIEF,” Debra continues. “We offer valuable skills to those serving our community – especially the disadvantaged.”

Thanks to friends like Debra who serve and who give, PMIEF is growing rapidly, using project management skills to impact our world for social good. Thank you for partnering with us today and as we look to the future!