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Spotlight on 25 Years of Grantmaking: Notes from SNF Program Officer Aristi Stathakopoulou

What are three things you have learned since starting work at SNF?
1. To have an open heart and an open mind. To listen to people and to try to understand them. Whether it’s a priest in a remote Greek village, an academic from a renowned U.S. university, or someone experiencing homelessness in the center of Athens, everyone has a story to share. There’s a lesson to be learned from each their stories, as long as you listen without prejudice and preconceptions, with an open heart and mind, with understanding and empathy. We can’t really help our fellow human beings unless we learn to love them. And sometimes, helping just means listening.
2. That dedication to your goal, hard work, passion, and cooperation are all you need to achieve anything. Even the impossible!
3. To dream of a better tomorrow and to strive for it, every day, in any way within my power.

What’s your favorite part of working at SNF?
Every time someone asks me why I love my job, a quote by Michel Foucault comes to mind: “My job is making windows where there were once walls.”

Every day we reach out and talk to many different people. We listen and we note needs; we keep our finger on the pulse of society. Our job is to help provide solutions to problems, to try to create equal opportunities for those who don’t have them, to give a voice to those who are not being heard. Every day is a new challenge. But the joy that you can share—in a child’s drawing, a smile, a hug from a stranger—these are the things that make our work special. At the end of the day, these are the things that make you persevere, and keep trying even harder

Of course, none of this would be possible without the people: my colleagues at SNF and all of our partners. I feel blessed to be a member of the SNF team, and to be given the opportunity every day to work alongside people who share the same vision, the same ideals and morals, toward a positive common purpose that transcends all of us.

Aristi Stathakopoulou, SNF Program Officer in Athens
I was born and raised in Aigio, a small seaside town in the Peloponnese, and now live in the center of Athens. I have worked at SNF for 8 years.