January 16, 2013

Dear Blackbaud...a letter to my work family

Dear Blackbaud,

You are the company that has employed me for the past seven years, and my husband for nearly fifteen.

You had a rough day yesterday. A hundred and fifty people who had jobs when they woke up yesterday don't have a job today.

And then you lost forever one of your own, a well-loved vice president whose work touched nearly everyone who ever set foot in the product support department.

Dear Blackbaud, people are going to be angry. People are going to be scared and worried about the future.

People will say mean things, angry things, because it's so easy to be mean and angry in times of trouble.

People will talk about the golden times of days past, when life was better and jobs were secure and we had all the fun and all the good times. The days of drunken holiday parties and drunken family picnics, and all the other things that have gone by the wayside as the company has grown and the economy has changed.

And people will talk about the days, five years ago, when our CEO stood before us and compared our company to a ship out to sea, weathering a storm.

"We'll weather it together," was the mantra then.


Now, so many of us will no longer be together. And while that's hard to stomach, here are some things that I'll carry with me.


I started at Blackbaud in 2003 when I was 23 years old. Twenty-three! I was new to town and had no local friends, and from my first days in Support, I had a life again.

"Working here is like instant friends, just add water," I used to say, and it was true.

My team became my family, and when I left to pursue a different goal, they sent me off with well-wishes, and when I wanted to come back they welcomed me with open arms.

Dear Blackbaud, even though I haven't loved every day here, you have given me so much.

You have given me my husband, Charles, and by extension my daughter, Zoe.

You have given me teams that are more like family than colleagues. 

You've given me friends that are more like brothers and sisters.

You've given me a slew of "work-husbands" with whom I spent as much time as I did my real-life one.

You've given my husband "work-wives" too, and I swear: I'm not even jealous!

Together we've all shared real life, too. Real growing up. Real husbands and real wives, real babies, and now: real funerals.

And yet, as big as we've grown, we are still a family. You can see it in the somberness of a company meeting the day after cutbacks. People were concerned, but thoughtful, and together.  You can see it in the way we all furiously "liked" each other's Facebook posts on Tuesday night after news of our colleague's passing spread like wildfire. We weren't "liking" the death or the sadness, but with each like, we said to each other, "Hey. I'm here, and I'm listening."

There were a lot of people listening Tuesday night.

Our CEO was right. We're still weathering these storms together.


Maybe years ago do feel like the golden ages, especially when seen through the haze of rose-colored glasses. Yesterday was indeed a very difficult day for all of us.

But for the people who start working with you today, for those who start next week, remember that these will be their golden ages, and they will remember them well. 

And, dear Blackbaud, while yesterday feels like a day that took much away from many of us (even those still there...they will not forget their fallen friends), we need to remember how much has been given to us through the years.


Anonymous said...

Well said, Leah, and meaningful to those of us who work at other companies that have weathered cuts and heartache. Thank you for reminding me, after a very difficult couple of months, how much I have received from my company.

Shaun Sullivan said...

That was a great read. Pretty much captures the way I will always feel about Blackbaud, except I would not have been able to put it so eloquently.

Shaun Sullivan

Leah said...

Thank you both so much!! Shaun - hope all's well with you!

Jocelyn Rish said...

Lovely. Even though it's been a few years since I was last in the building, I still think of my Blackbaud friends as family, and this put into words many of the things I was feeling yesterday.

KristenM said...

Thank you for this, Leah. You've put into words much of what I and so many others have been feeling over the past 36 hours. I was thinking earlier today about how to describe our microcosm. It's kind of like being in a college dorm for 10-15 yrs. Some people "transfer" in or out, but the core group remains solid. You change majors or roommates once in a while, but you live, laugh, love, and make memories with them and think of them as family. And we are. And to see how our family has responded in times of distress has made me as proud as ever to be a part of it.

Stephen Konig said...

Beautifully said, Leah. Blackbaud -- and the people -- will always hold a uniquely special place in my heart. And when it hurts, we all hurt.

Chad said...

Great post Leah...the whole BB family needs to read this!

Joel Reed said...

Well said Leah. Blackbaud is a family and like a family there times when things do not go as we wish but there is still the caring. I will miss you around the building and the rest that will no longer call Blackbaud their work home, but I know that all of you have left you mark on my life and will always be there by my side. I wish you the best that life gives and look forward to hearing how things progress in your new career.

Heather Johnson said...

Well said girl. Many tears shed this week. I wish you the VERY best of luck in your new adventure. xoxo

Leah said...

Wow! Thank you everyone!!!

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful, thank you for capturing my own thoughts so eloquently.

Anonymous said...

This was great Leah - thank you.

Anonymous said...

What beautiful words to give some comfort during a horrendous week. Thanks for sharing.

Diana Westerman said...

Beautifully written.

Adriana Ryan said...


Heddie said...

This is all so very, very true. Where's The Buzz when we need it? Cover article for sure!

Krystine Edwards said...

You brought me chills, smiles and a few tears- but you wrote this beautifully and thank you for saying what we all wanted to say but never seemed to be able to.

Anonymous said...

Well said. Even though I'm not at BB, Tuesday was a very tough day for me. When I talk about BB I still say things like "we" and "us".

John Dalzell said...

I agree with all the other comments....spot on and beautifully written. You most definitely ARE a writer and a very talented one at that!

Anonymous said...


While I do not know you, and I know little about BB, I applaud the feelings you guys seem to have about the comany. In today's economy, it seems that so many comapnies fail to care about those that make up the company, and by extension put a face to the comapny in front of the customer.

Best wishes for a sucessful PLF in a danger free LZ.

Rachel Hutchisson said...

Leah - simply beautiful. You have a gorgeous way with words. And you so eloquently captured what we all -- together -- are feeling.

MarieHa said...

Thank you for writing this Leah. As others have said, very nicely written. I plan to share this with my team today.

Lori Aguayo said...

Thank you, Leah. You can tell this came from the heart. Best of luck to you moving forward.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Leah.


Anonymous said...

Very well put.

I left BB years ago - I was there in the "Golden Age" - and I agree that we are still a family. I remember when you and Charles started dating. :-)

Best of luck to you. Somehow, I think you'll shine anywhere. -Tiffany T

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