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Liza Dyer: Service Done Responsibly

When I first started thinking about Connecting the Cause, I wondered about the best way to communicate its significance to the world. I wanted something substantial and impactful. Then it occurred to me, how about I do what I love? Get a couple of people together and talk about volunteerism and what it takes to be effective at giving back…duh.

So I thought about some brilliant service-centered mavens, and Liza Dyer came right to mind.

I don’t really remember when I officially “met” Liza, because number one, we’ve never seen each other in person, and number two, our interactions have been super organic and I don’t really remember a beginning. You know that feeling… when you are connected with someone, and you just start talking and realize they are really cool and so you both just stay in each other’s circle, comment on awesomeness, share resources, and cheer each other on when opportunities come around or congrats are in order? That’s Liza for me.


Liza and I share the circle and passion of volunteerism. She’s been working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector for 15+ years and is currently a Program Coordinator in Volunteer Services at Multnomah County Library.

Aside from serving as Program Coordinator and assisting over 2,000 community members connect to volunteer opportunities, I also found out she was an AmeriCorps Alum and I said, yeah, it’s official, she’s bomb. So knowing her insight, her experience, and bravery in championing this sector, I had to ask her what it means to serve responsibly. She gave 3 major keys of what that responsibility looks like:

1)    It means finding roles that speak to personal values.

2)    It means knowing my capacity and motivations so I can find the roles that best match my needs with those of the organization.

3)    Lastly, it involves doing research to find organizations that have well-run volunteer programs along with effective overall operations.

As a volunteer, this is the perfect formula for when deciding if an opportunity is a good fit. It is equally important for volunteer managers to be aware of these steps and travel alongside the volunteer as they discover their own answers in order to fully understand an individual and their effectiveness in the role. 

Volunteers must conduct their own research around finding good fit, while organizations must also do their due diligence with being transparent about roles, what they expect out of the volunteer, and the benefits and rewards that come with it.

Connecting the Cause was created to prepare organizations with the necessary tools to effectively engage their volunteers, so that individuals are deeply connected to a cause and are integrated into a lifestyle of transformative volunteerism.

Liza is the perfect example of service integration gone right.

“Throughout my life, I’ve focused my energies on different causes depending on current events and personal interests. However, I developed a deep love for ocean conservation from a young age and that continues to this day. One of my role models, oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, said: “You have to love it before you are moved to save it.” Through volunteer and paid experiences with museums and science centers, I’ve been able to transform my love of the ocean into action through citizen science, public education, and advocacy.”

This friends, is what that transformation looks like. It’s a journey about discovering one’s gifts and making space for yourself so you are able to get in tune with what you care about, and then putting it into action. Transformative service is about renewing your mind so that you develop increased empathy and serve as a catalyst for self and community change. Liza is really about that life, and is not throwing in the towel anytime soon.

Outside of the day job she loves, Liza also delivers training to volunteer-involving organizations like nonprofits, libraries, and social service agencies. Check her out here, oh and she’s a tweeter too! 

Thank you Liza for sharing your insight, and your enthusiasm for responsible service.


Breauna Dorelus is the Chief Cause Consultant at Connecting the Cause, where she is dedicated to building effective volunteer programs for nonprofits through transformative volunteering strategies. As a service-driven millennial, she is dedicated to igniting others to serve through the power of volunteerism, and passionate about connecting people to their purpose.