News – May 26, 2023
McCoy-Thompson reflects on first months leading Gratitude Network
Says nonprofit helps him support kids around world while staying true to Pleasanton roots
Steve McCoy-Thompson, known locally for working years as executive director of the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education Foundation, is entering his fourth month as the new executive director of Gratitude Network — an organization that supports nonprofits that work with children.
“I love the opportunity to connect with these impact leaders throughout the U.S. and the world,” McCoy-Thompson told the Weekly. “It’s a great opportunity for me to retain my Pleasanton roots and still try to have global impact.”
Gratitude Network is a nonprofit founded 10 years ago and based in downtown Pleasanton right above the Peet’s coffee shop on Main Street. The organization identifies other charity organizations that work with youth globally and provides them with coaching and counseling so that they can better serve their communities and those kids.
“The entire organization is very excited that Steve has been promoted to executive director of Gratitude Network,” Randy Haykin, founder and chief purpose officer of Gratitude Network, told the Weekly.
“As chairman of the Gratitude Network, I will be working very closely with Steve in his new role and the two of us will ‘co-pilot’ the organization with a balance between strategic growth of the organization and day-to-day operational focus,” Haykin added. “Steve and I have known each other for nearly 25 years, have worked together in the past and are really excited about scaling Gratitude Network into a global brand.”
McCoy-Thompson said that not only does Gratitude Network provide other nonprofits with the skills they need to have a greater impact in the work they do, but it also connects their donors with the other nonprofits in order to boost their presence in their communities.
“We’ve reached 40 million children by helping over 160 nonprofit leaders, in over 60 countries, have a greater impact,” he said.
McCoy-Thompson first started working for the nonprofit in January after he announced his departure from PPIE last November. He had worked for the school support foundation since 2016, and while he enjoyed the work he did for PPIE, he said that the current job allows him to use his past management consulting experience that he did around the world.
“The reason why I do this, the reason why I am excited about this project, is that in my career, I’ve lived and worked in over 50 countries,” he said. “So the opportunity to combine my international experience with the opportunities that help children and youth reach their full potential … it’s a great opportunity.”
“In my experience — having worked in these countries all around the world — I have come to believe that the best way to make a sustainable impact is to work in the communities where the children and their families live,” McCoy-Thompson added. “The best way to do that, for us, is to identify the nonprofits that are already working there and help them to do better.”
One of the ways he said the organization helps these nonprofits is through its year-long fellowship program where Gratitude Network provides them with one-on-one professional coaching, courses on best business practices and extensive peer networking.
He said one recent example of someone who went through the fellowship program was a woman from India who created an app to help report on and address social and emotional abuse of children.
McCoy-Thompson said she was recently praised by the secretary general of the United Nations for her work and that her organization has grown dramatically since she finished Gratitude Network’s program several years ago.
One local nonprofits that he said Gratitude Network has worked with recently in the Tri-Valley is The Freedom Story, which works on preventing child trafficking.
“One of my favorite parts of the job is getting to know these nonprofit leaders who are working in very challenging circumstances,” McCoy-Thompson said.
He also said that Gratitude Network is working on building regional hubs, including one in the Bay Area, to increase the impact of local nonprofits that work with children and youth.
“A hub means that we’re trying to identify local nonprofits and match them with local coaches and encourage local funding,” he said. “(For) people who want to invest in the community, this is the way to do that.”
He also added that while he still helps and supports PPIE in any way he can when they ask for help, he also wants to start making connections between Gratitude Network and the Pleasanton Unified School District in order to educate students about what’s going on in the world and what it’s like running a nonprofit.