In this episode, Dr. Hackie Reitman speaks with Casey Seidman.
Casey is the Assistant Director of Graduate Recruitment for Nova Southeastern University’s H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business. He previously served as a Campaign Associate with the United Way of Broward County, and before that as a policy analyst on the state relations team at Arizona State University. He is active in the South Florida non-profit community as a member of the Florida Association of Non-Profits and Leadership Broward (Emerge Broward). Casey discusses the importance of volunteering, the need nonprofits serve communities, and how his ADHD actually helps him excel. (13 minutes)
For more about Casey: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caseyseidman/
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HACKIE REITMAN, M.D. (HR): Hello there, I’m Dr. Hackie Reitman; welcome to another episode of Exploring Different Brains, and today we have with us Casey Seidman of Nova Southeastern University who’s going to tell us all about non-profits, philanthropy, and all that good stuff, and he’s going to tell us also what he does over there at Nova Southeastern University. Casey, welcome.
CASEY SEIDMAN (CS): Thank you, Dr. Reitman.
HR: Very nice for you to be here at differentbrains.org, we appreciate it, why don’t you introduce yourself properly to our audience?
CS: Sure, sure, sure, so I’m Casey Seidman and I currently work at Nova Southeastern University as an admissions representative and part of my job there is to recruit graduates into the MPA, MSRED, MBA, and Master of Accounting Program, so primarily I work inside either on the phones, but I also go out to networking events and try to build relationships within the community to recruit students, and I’m just happy to be here today.
HR: Now you have a lot to do with non-profits; tell us about that.
CS: So, I received my Master of Public Administration about 7 years ago, and from there, I knew I really wanted a career in nonprofits, so my first job in nonprofits was over at the United Way of Broward County, where I was a campaign associate, and as a campaign associate, I was responsible for fundraising in the community, going out and building new accounts, and trying to raise money for the annual fund. From there, I learned what is the value of really not just working for nonprofits but also volunteering to be on the board, so since then, I’ve joined a couple of nonprofit boards, I serve as the Chair of the Marketing Communications Committee for the Southeastern Conference of Public Administration, I also serve on the Davie Cooper City Chamber of Commerce on their Education Committee, in addition to that, I also do a little bit of work with Emerge Broward, and I also participate in the Government Affairs group for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, and in Rising Leaders as well.
HR: I guess you don’t have much spare time.
CS: Not really, not really, not whatsoever, it’s just minute-to-minute, minute-to-minute, we never stop.
HR: Good for you! Why do you think it’s so important to incentivize involvement in nonprofits?
CS: Well, it goes back to the core belief that nonprofits really are the cornerstone of our community ‘cause think about it for a second: In our community, we have businesses, we have people living there, but there’s really not that third group, and nonprofits really are that third group, and they really galvanize us around the issues we care about. For example, if you care about arts organizations, you might want to volunteer or give back to an illustrious arts organization. If you care about neurodiversity, such as, such as your organization. you might want to volunteer time or say, do an interview or help raise money for an issue, so what it does, it really galvanizes the community around common bonds and common issues, and that’s why I encourage everybody to get involved; it’s your civic duty to get involved in nonprofits.
HR: What got you interested in all of this?
CS: Well, actually about 10 years ago, a little more than 10 years ago, I volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club, actually at your unit at the Boys & Girls Club, and from there, I was inspired by Vern Dooling to really get involved in nonprofits and to really, really try to help the community, and through my volunteer experience there, I realized that all of our nonprofits had a valuable place in the community, and it was right then and there, it clicked to me that I want to do something with nonprofits. I wasn’t quite sure of the path yet, but I knew I wanted to do it, and then, that was the year I was also graduating from my undergraduate program, and from there I decided to get my MPA, which would give me the nonprofit skills that I need in order to move into that field.
HR: Well, we’re a non-profit, differentbrains.org, we’re a 501C3, and we are trying to advocate for all of those of us whose brains are a little bit different. Now, your brain was a little bit different, didn’t seem to hold you back. You want to tell our audience about your brain a little bit?
CS: Sure, sure, so back when I was 5 years old I diagnosed with ADHD. Now ADHD prevents you from, doesn’t necessarily prevent you from learning, but it makes you learning delayed and it also gives you a little bit of hyperactivity, so when I was first diagnosed with that, I do remember the reading specialist, I clearly remember this, the reading specialist telling my mother that I would never read and I would never write, and it was thanks to a young teacher at the time who took her time with me and taught me how to read and write, and by the time I got out of the third grade, not only was I reading at a third grade level, I was actually reading at a sixth grade level and writing at a sixth grade level, so I was actually three grades ahead, but what I’ve known in my experience with ADHD and…
HR: Dyslexia, I guess you had too, if you couldn’t read.
CS: Yea, dyslexia was also brutal. Dyslexia has not impacted me as badly, but what I’ve learned with ADHD is it’s not so much a disadvantage; it actually could be an advantage. Because of ADHD, you learn how to focus on everything and you focus at almost a hyperactive level, so instead of it being something that really disadvantages you and causes you to not be able to do what you want to do, you can use it to really harness and focus on what you’re good at and get even better at what you’re good at because my philosophy in life is life throws you lobsters, but you have to make lobster bisque out of it, and that’s what I want to do with my ADHD. I want to turn it into something that can truly help me, so I use it to focus in and really get the job done.
HR: What tips do you have for someone, like someone in our Different Brains audience who might have Dyslexia or ADHD, or family members, what’s the biggest tip you might be able to give them?
CS: Be very patient. Be very, very patient because when you’re younger and you have ADHD or some kind of learning disability, things tend to come at first slowly, so you might learn something you might teach a child or teach a nephew or teach a niece something and they may not get it right away, but it might click in two weeks, so my advice is to be patient, and if you’re that person with ADHD or a learning disability, be patient with yourself. It will come to you. Not only will it come to you, you’ll learn how to take it and use it as an advantage because a learning disability, or a different brain as they would say, is not a disadvantage. On the contrary, it’s something of an advantage. You have to think of it like Bruce Lee: Bruce Lee used to say, “Be like water.” Well, that lets you be like water, and that lets you take a look at whatever your disadvantages and turn that around to your advantage, and that’s my philosophy and that’s my advice to everybody.
HR: That makes sense to me, and so many of the people I’ve had the honor of meeting and interviewing, Professor Matthew Schneps, the astrophysicist, is dyslexic, Elizabeth Wilkinson, the dyslexia consultant over in England, and Tiffany Sunday, who became a great writer and everything, and then it’s a matter of recognizing what our friend Temple Grandin says, “Different, not less. Different, not less.” At Nova Southeastern University, with what you do there, what would you say is the, makes Nova Southeastern different as a University?
CS: So what makes Nova Southeastern different as a University is were truly focused on, we’re truly focused on giving students a practical education. For example, in the business college, all of our professors come from the corporate world. We have professors who have started businesses, we have professors who served as VPs of marketing, directors of HR, we have those who served as marketing directors, so when you come to the business college, or you go to the medical college, all of your professors have worked in the fields, so yes they have the theoretical knowledge, but when they’re training you, they’re training you on, they’re training you from their pragmatic experience, so they’re giving you the ideal skills you need in order to be successful not just in their classrooms but in the real world.
HR: That’s very well said. With the changes in leadership over the past years from our friend Abraham Fishler, who was there forever, and then now George Hanbury who’s been there a few years – I was lucky enough to be inducted with George into the Broward Leadership some years ago; he has a rather holistic vision for the University – they are bringing in everything now; they’ve just started a allopathic medical school in addition to the osteopathic medical school, they put a hospital on campus, so they’re really moving over there. How do people learn more about you? How can they find out more about you, some of our audience?
CS: Sure, if you want, you can go to my, you can go to my LinkedIn page, you just look in LinkedIn, you type in Casey Seidman, I should be right there, and I’d be definitely glad to chat with anybody, if anybody wants to connect with me, or you could send me an email to my personal email firstname.lastname@example.org
HR: Now, you’re a graduate of Magna Cum Laude of Arizona State University. My Uncle Moe out in Las Vegas, he used to say when someone said they graduated at Magna Cum Laude he goes, “Yeah, I graduated high school ‘Johnny Come Lately.’” You liked it out there in Arizona.
CS: I did, I did, you know to me, Arizona’s always going to have a special place in my heart because it was a place where I got my Bachelor’s, I got my Master’s, and I started my career out there, and the person to help me start my career out there, he gave me a job when I had no experience, and he gave me a job at a pretty high level, I worked in the lobby staff, I never worked as a legislative aide, I never had been an elected official, and he gave me a job, and it really kick-started my career and I’m forever indebted to ASU and those over there.
HR: Now, if someone wants to go into the same field, first of all, how would you describe your field, and how does someone know what kind of pathway would you recommend they take?
CS: So, for what I currently do over at Nova Southeastern?
HR: Well for your whole gestalt because, you know, your day job is like what I tell our wonderful interns here, “Don’t give up your day job, whatever your day job is,” and there’s 24 hours in a day and don’t buy society’s big lie that things are mutually exclusive, so you’ve got a very important, and I’m sure it keeps you running, full-time, day job with Nova Southeastern, but you’re on about 46 boards and you’re doing a lot of other things and you’ve been very active in the nonprofit community, so I consider you more than just as somebody who’s, you know, working at the university as really somebody into philanthropy, somebody’s who’s into helping develop non-profits, and there might be, you might have just a touched a cord with some of our audience that way, so how would you advise them in your footsteps?
CS: My advice to anybody is simply do this: Get involved; if you’re passionate about something, there’s usually a nonprofit in your community that it’s going to cover. Whether it be the arts, whether it be neurodiversity, whether it be transportation, whether it be politics, there’s always an organization to get involved in, and feeding back on your point that things are not mutually exclusive, you’re right. A lot of us who work one place sit on, either sit on boards, or part of nonprofits with other people in the community, so it serves as a great opportunity to not only get involved but get to really know people in the community because the world is a very small place, and this is your chance to really not only meet people but truly make a difference, so my advice? Get involved, don’t worry about it, don’t sweat it, everyone’ll get to know you, they’ll see how wonderful you truly are and they will see past whatever issue you think you have because it’s not a disadvantage; it’s an advantage.
HR: Well, on that note, I want to thank you for being here today, Casey Seidman.
CS: Thank you.
HR: Keep up your great work at Nova Southeastern University and all the nonprofit boards are on, and we hope to see you again soon. Thanks so much for being here.
CS: Thank you, Dr. Reitman.