Justin Barss

Director of Staff Development

Start with an overachieving gregarious kid from Virginia. Send him to urban Wilmington, buff out some privilege and pride, and he starts learning. Over ten years, I built a tenacious work ethic by diving head first into a wide array of community issues, requests, & needs. I applied my career work to mission agencies in one city to form my own growth curve. I compounded my growth by working, living and serving in one community – including roles in social services, accounts receivable, customer service, community development, and urban lumberjacking.

My first nonprofit initiated my learning through a service oriented environment. I learned from parents, families, and kids in front of me first and unpacked those lessons with diverse coworkers at home. We then made sense of our mission & goals in response to what we saw. These lessons ranged from the mundane to the comical:
-learning to sweep / shovel my walk as a city resident
-following the model of teenage counselors exercising their wisdom as local leaders to camp childen
-applying the praxis of nonprofit management (and inner change) while learning to box from a Franciscan monk

My first ten years transformed and challenged my view of the world. I see nonprofits, systems, and faith with different eyes.

Salesforce became the Swiss army knife that you “could” use to fix anything at an organization. As I designed and submitted solutions, I learned there are some problems that didn’t fit well. People, systems, context, history, policy – so many variables must be balanced to lead a client to success.
I invested my prior experience in these clients and began a career in consulting. Now IT Matters offered me a position in 2013 and I jumped at the opportunity to continue learning. Consulting became more art than machine for me – with the focus adjusting to the person, not the system. During this time, the person became the center of my consulting focus. It’s more fulfilling to coach the client, to support their growth, and to challenge / guide them into success.
Teaching people to develop their own teams and leaders becomes the most effective way to grow their long term impact. Projects and implementations are the method, developing people and their growth should be the outcome.

“People first, Mission second.”

The “Next steps” include balancing the tension between developing people to use a tool and designing tools to better support people’s innate skills. With the leadership capital, innovation, and resources available to clients and our internal team at Now IT Matters, I’ll be shaping infrastructures to develop brilliant staff and launch them forward into their mission.