A Candid Conversation with Aaron Stanton on MAI’s Past, Present, and Future

by | Executive Director, Field Notes

We had the privilege of delving into the thoughts and experiences of Aaron Stanton, our new Executive Director, whose commitment to the success of Mt. Adams Institute (MAI) has been unwavering over the past decade. This conversation is not just a glimpse into his professional experience, but a deeper understanding of his values, and the principles that drive Aaron’s vision for the organization’s future. Without further ado, let’s hear from Aaron Stanton, our new Executive Director!

  • Which of your characteristics are you most proud of and why?
    • I guess I would start with commitment. When it comes to the people that I love and in this case an organization that I believe in, I go all in.  I will always do whatever it takes.  I’ve been with MAI from its beginnings and my commitment to its success has not wavered over the past decade.  Taking on the ED role is what I can do now to ensure MAI continues to grow and thrive.
    • I think I connect with people on a very genuine level.  To me, that is a critical element of the relationships we depend on as a small non-profit.  Our partners and supporters need to trust us, and open, genuine communication is key.  Ultimately, we’re all working towards similar goals, but even if we’re not, I’m as interested in your success as I am in our own.  I would like to think that my motivations are clear and honest in all that I do.
  • How do you take care of yourself in moments of self-doubt or adversity?
    • When things are tough, I often think about something our founder, Brendan Norman, said to me years ago.  He said if you can finish the day knowing you did the best that you could do, you can rest easy and pick up where you left off tomorrow.  Sometimes, I can’t make things happen the way I want them to, but if I do my best I don’t have to hang my head.  Also, I go kayaking.  That helps a LOT!
  • Can you share a few of the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your time at MAI?
    • One thing that I learned from a mentor years ago, but that has been an integral part of my life with MAI, is that relationships matter.  The programs we offer are amazing; our outcomes are remarkable; but the only way we got there and the underlying catalyst for all of that success are the relationships we build.  Relationships within our staff, our Board, our program members, partners, and supporters.  We have always emphasized relationships above all else.  That doesn’t mean that we haven’t made missteps or failed to connect at times, but we have always genuinely done the best we could to nurture our connections.
  • What’s your vision for MAI in the next 90 days?
    • Stabilization. We have been through a lot in the past three years; pivoting to remote work due to COVID; transitioning to a hybrid workplace; two ED hires and other staff transitions following Brendan’s departure.  We need to fill our staff positions and focus on rebuilding our relationships and settling into our new roles.  We have strong systems and programs that sustain us as we do that.  We also have a committed staff and Board.  We just need the space and support to get there and then look to MAI’s next phase.
  • What does success in your role as Executive Director look like to you?
    • Staff feel supported and successful.  Partners continue to value our programs and expand our partnerships.  Building and re-establishing programs that expand opportunities to achieve our mission and that also connect us more closely to our local community.