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Meet David Higbee of Bridge Lacrosse

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Higbee.

David, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I moved to Dallas about nine years ago, after graduating from the University of Oklahoma. Unfortunately, 2008 was not a great year to graduate and start a career, and I bounced around jobs for a little while. However, one particular positive in that time was finding the nonprofit, Bridge Lacrosse. Knowing very little of the city and what to do, I found myself immediately hooked into the organization and spending my free time helping where I could. I started as a volunteer coach, and over the next few years I became more and more involved, eventually being asked to join the board of directors. In 2011, the role of executive director opened up and I couldn’t resist the chance to switch my careers. At the time, I was working for an environmental firm in a project management role, but decided that this opportunity was worth pursuing. Since that time, it’s been a roller coaster experience having to learn how to run a nonprofit on the fly. I took on the role with next to nothing in terms of related professional and academic background, but I’ve enjoyed the intense learning process and the relationships along the way. My first few years were pretty rocky and the learning curve remained pretty steep. But, in these last two years, I’ve begun to find my stride and the organization has never been stronger or more focused.

Has it been a smooth road?
When I took on the role of executive director, the first group of people I reached out to weren’t other nonprofit executives, but rather entrepreneurs and start-up founders. I quickly realized that this job was going to be unlike any of my previous jobs and that a 9-5 job mentality wasn’t going to work. I met with as many entrepreneurs and founders as I could, knowing that my passion to build was similar to their own. I learned a lot in those meetings, from simple best practices, culture, operations and strategic planning, each of them approached their pursuits with relentlessness and I loved mentality they had. But, while I was willing and passionate to work odd hours and toil away into the night, it was clear that I simply just didn’t know how to operate a nonprofit. Now, I often tell people that this job has been my version of a MBA, and that those first couple years I had to immerse myself into accounting, marketing, branding, community relations, sales and communications. Despite the willingness to learn these things, it simply took time to do so and this on the job training wasn’t always easy. It would be several years before I really got the hang of the job and the role, and those early mistakes often came at the expense of my time and resources. I’ve learned the value of failing fast and coming into a role with very little knowledge up front was a significant challenge.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We, Bridge Lacrosse, are a sports-based youth development nonprofit serving the urban communities of North Texas. Our mission is to use lacrosse to broaden the horizons of our community’s youth. We provide hours of high-quality lacrosse instruction, with the help of high school volunteers and coaches, as well as provide new experiences and opportunities for personal growth. Our greater purpose is to use this unique and nontraditional sport to help close the opportunity gap that exists in many areas of North Texas. We believe that sports can be an integral part of a child’s development. For us, it’s not just about sports but what sports can provide to the social and emotional development of kids. We are incredibly proud of the culture we’ve built over the last several years around family. For us, family includes our student-athletes from a wide array of backgrounds, our donors who believe in our mission, our parents who make the big and small sacrifices for their kids, and our volunteers who share a passion for sports and youth. For us, it’s our culture that sets us apart and we believe strongly that everyone involved with Bridge, is family.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
For a nonprofit, Dallas is a great place to be. We are extremely fortunate to be in a city that is both charitable and compassionate. Dallas is one of the most charitable and giving cities in the country and we are so appreciative of the amazing people that help sustain and grow so many phenomenal organizations in the city.

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