CTN’s marketing and communications director, Lauren Cotter, has extensive experience in the marketing world — including television, film, and video production; branding; sales and sponsorship; digital and social marketing; and public relations. Nine years ago, Lauren’s life took an unexpected turn when a brain tumor brought on epilepsy and seizures. Unable to look at a screen or participate at the pace she once had, Lauren took time off to focus on her health. Thankfully, a new medication helped Lauren return to some sort of normal in late 2019.
Eager to continue her social participation, Lauren began looking for jobs in the social impact sphere. As she left the corporate world, Lauren wanted to bring her 50 years of volunteering, advocating, and work experience to a nonprofit organization that usually wouldn’t be able to hire an executive-level marketer. Eventually, she discovered CTN through the Encore Fellows program. This unique opportunity matches highly skilled professionals approaching retirement with social sector organizations in need of capacity building. It was a perfect fit for Lauren, and she began her fellowship with CTN in March of 2020.
No one could have predicted that just days after Lauren’s start date, the COVID-19 pandemic would prompt a citywide shelter-in-place order in San Francisco. As a result, CTN’s business-as-usual operations came to a halt. Lauren was impressed with how quickly CTN’s executive director Kami Griffiths pivoted our programming to accommodate a remote-only world. She was excited to jump right in and help seniors get online during a critical time. “In the pandemic, it is our seniors that are most at risk,” she reflects. “I felt like I was in a race to get people safe — to get the word out to get funding and volunteers.”
At 66, Lauren understands the importance of the internet for older populations. At the same time, she realizes there are a number of barriers to getting online. Without sufficient digital skills or affordable broadband access, many seniors are left unable to benefit from online resources. “I’m able to work independently because I have internet skills,” says Lauren. “If I didn’t, what would I be doing? I want to be independent, I want to stay independent, I want others to be able to have that autonomy.”
Over the past year and a half, Lauren has taken on the role of marketing and communications director. Her behind-the-scenes work adds tremendous value to CTN — from spreading the word about CTN’s services to organizing fundraising campaigns to recruiting volunteers. In return, Lauren gains new perspectives about the communities we serve. “Giving people the tools to be able to talk to their family, connect with their doctors, and feel less isolated is so rewarding,” says Lauren. “Before working with CTN, I didn’t know the extent of the digital divide. Learning more about it motivates me to communicate our mission to others and spread digital literacy.”