NAME: Janine Paver
TITLE: Director of Development
PREVIOUSLY: Associate Director of Development Stanford Live
GUIDING QUOTE: The only duty we owe history is to rewrite it — Oscar Wilde
CURRENTLY READING: Dominic Dunne’s, The Way We Lived Then: Recollection of a Well-Known Name Dropper
FAVORITE MOMENT OF CALIFORNIA HISTORY: I love California in the teens and twenties when people came from all over the country to find their way and make their fortune. California is so bold and enterprising at its core. It was also the time that the film industry began to take shape and become the Hollywood we know it to be today and those aesthetics lead the world in film as an art form. But I think I would have to say that I really like our moment right now. As a native Californian I’ll admit I am partial, but this state has a maverick spirit that I really admire. We seem to hold up the mirror across the rest of the country and are among a handful of states that do things first. I like living in a trailblazing state and it is no surprise that the humanities are rich and abundant here.
YOU HAVE WORKED IN DEVELOPMENT IN A NUMBER OF NONPROFITS. WHAT HAVE YOU LIKED BEST ABOUT THIS WORK WHEN YOU LOOK BACK OVER YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
It is an easy answer for me in that I really enjoy meeting the individuals who are connected to an organization and learning their stories, their backgrounds, and their motivations. I meet the most interesting people and I am always enriched by the relationships that develop as we share a common interest or concern. Another driving force in my career is that I feel very strongly that almost everyone can give and that it is important to say yes. The world opens up in a different way the moment you say yes to giving a bit more of yourself, your time, your finances, your attention. This mindset makes my profession a bit of a vocational hazard for me–I really like to say yes! There are so many needs in our community and saying yes, “I will help” in whatever capacity, with whatever resources you have is a mindful practice and it is at the very core of being human. We are ambitious in so many ways—always working hard and thinking ahead. I would like to encourage us to be more ambitious in our philanthropy and make a real effort to engage with and support the things we hold dear. I’ve heard it quoted before but it bears repeating, never resist a generous impulse.
WHAT’S SOMETHING THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I might have been a police officer! One of my first classes in college was focused on crime and deviance and it had a real effect on me. I have a strong sense of justice, feel a responsibility for service and am a natural protector of others. I had a real thrill a few years ago when I got to ride along with a local police chief. I was so impressed by the courtesy and respect he gave to everyone he encountered.
YOU HAVE RECENTLY RETURNED FROM TRAVEL IN A NUMBER OF COUNTRIES. WHERE WERE ONE OR TWO PLACES WHERE THE HUMANITIES SEEMED PREVALENT?
Because I am so humanities focused, I feel like I see humanities everywhere! But there are a couple of standout places I visited. When I went to Egypt I was really struck by the long history of art, philosophy and civic engagement that was present in almost every structure I visited–from tombs to temples. Ancient Egyptians were really focused on solving problems and creating beautiful spaces and all these years later, you can still see the engineering and artistry in everything they did. It was also thrilling for me to see this connection of art, history, and community as I viewed 2000 year old structures all over the world: amphitheaters in Sicily, libraries in Turkey and temples in Japan. It was magical to connect time, place and politics on my trip and it greatly enhanced my understanding of the world and its people.
WHAT IS YOUR OVERALL APPROACH TO FUNDRAISING? WHAT ARE YOU FOCUSING ON FIRST AT CAL HUMANITIES?
My approach to fundraising feels so simple to me that it hardly seems like a constructed effort. My goal is to connect people to our work at California Humanities and create a home for the community of donors who support humanities projects across the State. Doesn’t everyone want to feel that they are making a difference? I am here to say, “You make a difference to our work and you make our community richer.”
IF THERE WAS A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE, WHO WILL PLAY YOU?
I would love for a funny, slightly edgy person to play me. Someone with a bit of intense focus and drive who could walk to the front of the room to make an important, impassioned speech in front of an enormous crowd and would do a little pratfall along the way just to make everyone laugh. Madeline Kahn, Carol Burnett, or even Kristen Wiig would be great.
For more information on Janine, please visit our Staff page.