I Love My Job: Kendra DeBree

Based in New Jersey, Kendra DeBree works as the Business Development Director at Durga Tree International, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and empower non-profits that work to end human slavery all over the world. Kendra spoke with us about her transition to the non-profit field, what she does at Durga Tree, and her advice for millenials. Keep reading to find out more about her story and experience! i love my job kendra

Hi Kendra! How are you doing?

My day is very busy. I’m seizing the day, I feel like I got three hours of sleep because sometimes you get creative in the middle of the night and you write things down. So that’s what was happening to me and now I’m running on pure adrenaline. You know, as a business development director of a non-profit, I have my hands in like 50 different places, so it’s always re-evaluating and re-prioritizing what needs to happen, and when. I was at a convention over the weekend where I made some really solid contacts, so it’s important to follow up with those contacts before they lose sight. You get them excited but don’t talk to them for too long in between, and before you know it, you may lose them. 

What were you doing before Durga Tree?

I was a manager for a little while but I always thought, “I’m only doing this because it pays the bills and I’m getting exposure.” I always knew that I wanted to run my own business and I’ve always been the type of person who always needs to have a job. I was supporting myself through school and working at night. I managed my first Pier 1 Imports when I was 19 and I had no idea what I was doing. They just kind of threw me in, so you know, through the years you just build certain skills and expertise.

On joining the non-profit field:

I have a degree in business management, but non-profit work was something I had never previously considered. You know, when you think non-profit, you think, “Oh, well that won’t make me any money.” I was in my 20s so I was all about making money. The only difference between a for-profit and a non-profit business is that at the end of the year, the extra funds don’t go into the pockets of shareholders, of the executives that aren’t necessarily doing the day-to-day. They’re hard-working people [at Durga Tree]. It goes back into program funding for the next year. It’s a business!

After I had my daughter, Emma, who just turned two last month, I was like, “Okay, I haven’t been working retail for nine-plus months now” and I thought, “I can’t go back.” If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do something amazing now. It just so happens that my very best friend’s Aunt and Uncle started this non-profit years ago. I heard about it, but I never really took the time because when you’re in your 20s, you’re not really thinking about this stuff or caring about it. As soon as I turned 30 and became a mom, my priorities changed and I just started thinking about things differently. You see the world differently; you realize how small your world really is.

How did you end up with your position?

I started volunteering last year and just started learning more and more about human trafficking. I was thinking about where I am in my life and thought, “I could really take this non-profit to the next level.I essentially created this position within Durga Tree International and thought, “we could do something really big”. It turns out that they were ready to take the next steps to make that happen. We’ve raised, in two years, around $250,000 in single donations. We don’t have any grant funding or foundational funding, and that’s actually an element I’m bringing in.

My mother, growing up, worked for the Diocese of Paterson where she worked one-on-one with mentally disabled adults. It was always rewarding for me because I used to go in during the summers and do all sorts of things. I got a little taste of what rewarding work was really like.

What are you currently doing at Durga Tree?

As a business person, you’re always looking at things in a way that’s going to grow and build the organization. I’m making new, lasting contacts and impressions with businesses and individuals at the same time. I have a group of volunteers that I source, solicit and manage on a daily basis. We have a group that we call our “lotus guild”. They are essentially people who are really passionate about becoming day-to-day ambassadors. They also chair or co-chair a certain area of our business. I have someone in charge of “do it yourself” fundraisers, I have someone in charge of speaking engagements, I have someone in charge of social media. We have two large fundraising events per year. We have a gala coming up and we have a walkathon.

Tell us about what Durga Tree does. 

We pick and choose specific non-profits around the world that are all working toward the same goal. We all want to eradicate human trafficking but they’re all fighting for the same dollar. We’re bringing organizations so that they don’t have to fight. A lot of this is about planning - event planning is full-time and a lot of these non-profits don’t have the time and resources. That’s where we come in. There’s also the work of building awareness. There are a lot of anti-trafficking organizations in New Jersey where all they do is spread awareness, but we’re unique because we have a plan and we’re going to see it through. Right now we have four partners and we don’t want to take on anymore until we feel that the projects that we have are sustainable.

How Did the Organization Start?

Beth Tiger, on of our co-founders, began as a life coach. She ran “A Life Well Lived” which hosted women’s groups and talks. Her shop was committed to caring products that were made by women-owned businesses. When she started going to trade shows, she found out about trafficking and that is where she met our first partner. The company sold jewelry that was made by survivors of human trafficking. A Life Well Lived dissolved and ultimately became Durga Tree International. Now all of the proceeds made from items sold in the shop are donated toward eradicating human trafficking.

What Organizations Do You Work With?

All of the grassroots organizations that we support must fall in line with one of our branches of freedom. There are organizations that are really great at rescuing, some focus on housing, lobbying or economic empowerment.

Love 146 is awesome, we love them! We actually just went to their red gala, which was the first gala that I attended. We actually supported their creation of their school curriculum around trafficking, which they’re testing it out in Florida, Illinois and Connecticut. Throughout the world, the average trafficked age is 10 so the conversation needs to happen early. A couple of months ago, Love 146 built a women-only shelter out in the Philippines, but when I say women I also mean 10, 11 or 12-year-old girls. They just took in their youngest trafficking survivor who was age two. When you hear stuff like that you think, “who, why would you do something like that?” They also recently opened a boys-only shelter because people have asked why there isn’t a place for little boys who are being trafficked.

Another partner that we support in Guatemala (Asociación La Alianza). They have a shelter and they call it a “casa”. Girls can stay there until the age of 18. When our organization went out there, we wanted to support the babies but also to support the girls. We taught them different ways to care for their baby and that even though your baby was conceived in certain conditions, you can still love your baby. The trafficking issue is becoming a generational issue. They’re born into it, so this is all they know and then they do what they know. They don’t see other opportunities.

Another partner of ours is Truckers Against Trafficking. They are 100% based in the United States. They’re located around areas where there are airports and intercoastal highways. We support a “Freedom Rig” which is a big truck that travels around to different truck stops and educates truckers on what’s happening. They post about missing persons as well as pictures on their facebook. All of these truckers tap in and actually about once per week, they help save a girl and bring her home.

We also support an organization (Good Shepherd Academy) that works in West Cameroon, Africa. What happens there is that many children have to walk five-plus miles to school and on that walk they are taken and then sacrificed for their organs. What we’re trying to do right now is get $25,000 to support the guards that look out for the children as they go to school.

What else are you currently involved in?

I was recently hired as a consultant to help with a window cleaning and pressure washing association. I’ve been in retail for over 10 years and managed hundreds of different types of people, so my friend reached out to me a couple months ago to help out with this 500+ event.

Her advice for millennials:

I felt that I was in an industry that I didn’t really belong in and that I was meant to do something more. I was seriously job-hunting and networking, but I got a tip from a friend and volunteer. Once you start giving back and not thinking about yourself you realize that the more you give, the more you get in return. The moment you let go and when you start doing things that aren’t typical for you, you never know who you’ll meet through a volunteer experience.

Who Would Play You in a Movie About Your Life?

That’s so funny - my friends were just talking about this! Who did we decide on…I think Rachel McAdams.

What is your favorite social media platform?

Facebook is my favorite because I know it so well. I love following Clinton Kelly because I love the show “What Not To Wear”.


Thank you so much, Kendra, for sharing your story and insights! We had a great time talking to you.

What’s More Important – Comfort Within a Team or Opportunity for Individual Growth? - The DeAndre Factor


Looking at different situations and being recruited, sometimes you can get enchanted with it all. There's nothing wrong with that. But you also have the right to look at it again and change your mind - Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers


This isn’t a trick question. It’s actually one of the most important questions that will guide your professional career in student affairs as it determines what you’re looking for in a position, or in the case of young NBA star DeAndre Jordan, what he thought he was looking for. DeAndre was in a situation not too dissimilar to what many of us have or will face. Even if you have no interest in basketball or sports, it’s a fascinating story told in detail here.

DeAndre (26) is a young professional who recently “came into his own” in his work as an NBA player, and found he was capable of doing more than being the third best player on his own team, he could forge his own path and be the superstar of his own team. There were definite perks to his current situation. He had a defined role that he was good at, had unwavering support from his head coach who built his confidence and made sure others knew of his exploits, and the benefit of playing with two other superstars.

But there were definite drawbacks to the position – he would never be considered the “featured” guy, in other words, there was a ceiling to how much he would grow in that environment and with his relevance to the team. He played with a demanding team captain, Chris Paul, whose harsh and brazen tactics were wearing thin on DeAndre. In short, his career had plateaued and he wasn’t feeling appreciated.

In swoops the Dallas Mavericks who court and dazzle DeAndre promising him everything he asked for, which must have been exciting and overwhelming for him. This was the first time he was being courted in such a way – like the guy who grows out of his awkward phase in high school and has to choose between his best friend who’s been there for him or the flashy girl suddenly giving him attention (i.e. the synopsis for Teen Wolf). Eventually, DeAndre verbally accepted Dallas’s offer, but had a sudden change of heart to return to LA.

At the very least, DeAndre, still young and impressionable, allowed himself to get swept up in the process, and the same will happen to many of you. You’ll be promised everything you asked for and feel wanted, but your head and heart have to work together on making the decision. I’ve gotten swept up in the promise, and unfortunately wasn’t able to go back like DeAndre. Few of us have that choice, which makes the time you start considering other options vital by thinking about a few factors.


The biggest school/department isn’t necessarily the best for you

They may offer the most in salary and amenities. Their big offices, on-campus living, dining options, and overall “wow” factors will dazzle you, but it’s important to keep perspective. How much of that plays into what you do and how you want to live (especially If you are a live-on professional)


The school that likes/wants you the most isn’t necessarily the best for you

Just because someone has a crush on you, you’re not obligated to feel the same way. They may see fireworks, while you may not see fireworks. The attraction should be two-sided. It may be flattering to be wanted, but you don’t have to buy everything that’s sold to you


The DeAndre Factor – what is your role on the team?

Is it most important to be in a position to have all your skills come to the forefront or are you comfortable in a niche role that you do well? It’s ok to not want more, to not want the former over the latter. The former brings more pressure and sometimes more risk. The latter brings stability and comfort. In short, the reward is whatever you want it to be.

Rise to the Challenges in Front of You


Do you rise to the challenges in front of you? Let me rephrase. Are you making the most of the opportunities you come across? Are you showing up and challenging yourself to be better?

Unfortunately, too many of us let these moments slip right by.

How many times have you skipped out on something that had the potential to be awesome and life-changing because you were afraid?

Maybe you were afraid you wouldn’t be good enough or that you would fail. Maybe you were afraid you weren’t ready. Or maybe you just didn’t really feel like it at the time. I’m guilty of assuming each of these, and I’d bet you are too.

If we fall into the trap of passivity, we let the opportunities that will change our lives pass us right by. We fail to rise to the challenges in front of us, and therefore fail to create the space we need for growth.

One of the most important things I will always advocate for is trying new things and constantly exploring new ways to pursue a life you love. We get stuck in ruts and routines which only lead us to complacency and further unhappiness. Rising to the challenges that are presented to you, gives you the chance to disrupt the routine you've become so used to. Changing your routine and getting outside of your comfort zone will give you a new perspective. It will challenge the way you think and the way you see your life. Staying in the same place day in and day out doesn't do anything for you.

The best way to combat falling into this cycle is simply to say, “yes.” Say goodbye to passivity and hello to action. 

After you've said yes, show up! Bring your A-game and be ready to learn and absorb the knowledge and experiences from those around you. Ask questions, engage, and be innovative. Look for problems that need to be solved and then find a solution. Go the extra step and implement the solution. Volunteer to do the dirty work. Ask yourself what else can be done? How can this be improved? And then go do it. Be present and be open to the opportunities that present themselves to you. But don't stop there. Why wait for opportunities when you can chase them?

I suppose I should give you a disclaimer here: It’s not going to be easy and it’s not always going to be fun. It probably won’t always feel worth the effort either. In truth, you’ll end up finding things you're pretty terrible at, don’t enjoy in the least, and you’ll no doubt find yourself in awkward situations. But the truth is we need to experience the awkward and cross off the things we don’t like in order to find the things we do like and are indeed extraordinary at.

Look at it this way: Every time you say no or turn down an opportunity, you’re giving up a chance for greatness. More importantly, you’re giving up a chance to find your greatness and your niche.

In my own niche journey, I’ve found that the good will outweigh the bad every single time. Have you always wanted to start a blog or a podcast? Go for it! What’s stopping you from sending an email to your boss’ boss and asking to have coffee? Be brave, be bold. Step up, you may be surprised of what comes of it.

If you’re thinking this means you need to say “yes” every single time, you’re missing the mark. Say yes when something gives you butterflies but also a touch of nerves. These feelings let you know that you're a little bit nervous and afraid, but also excited. They're speaking to you and saying, "hey, maybe this could really be something for you."

I challenge you to rise to the challenges and opportunities in front of you. Go after what calls to you, chase it with abandon, and go home satisfied but hungry for the next go round. Don't get down on yourself if something doesn't work out; write it off as a lesson learned and keep on keeping on.

When it comes down to it, you know you best, even if you haven't realized it yet. If you’re still in the “trying to figure it all out” stage (don't worry -- most of us are), remember that what it boils down to is that you have nothing to lose by trying. You have everything to lose by letting another chance pass you by.

On top of all this, you’ll end up leagues ahead of those people who are still stuck at home, refusing to rise to the challenges in front of them. As they say, always go the extra mile, it’s never crowded.

Meet the Interns: Lara Lieberman

laraprofilepictureGet to know Lara, one of the summer interns for the Niche Movement! Hailing from Marin County, California, Lara is a 21 year-old rising senior attending the George Washington University. Although she believes that Marin is one of the most beautiful places in the country due its easy access to stunning mountains and lakes, she loves that DC has such a rich culture with no shortage of opportunities, whether it's the presidential inauguration or Jazz in the Sculpture Garden - a summer favorite in DC. As an intern, Lara will primarily work with one of our clients, Lost Rhino Brewery on their online presence and social media strategy. In addition, she'll be creating blog content, developing public relations, and doing community outreach for The Niche Movement. She's excited to gain marketing experience in a start-up environment with companies and organizations that are passionate about what they do.

Lara truly believes that every person deserves the opportunity to pursue their passions and love what they do, which is why she so strongly aligns with the Niche Movement's mission of ending employment unhappiness. We're thrilled to have her on board with us this summer and have no doubt that she'll be a key asset in moving forward with that mission.

Feel free to connect with Lara through her LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, or email her at!

Learn more about Lara through some fun questions:

Favorite food: Breakfast food

Favorite social media channel: Instagram

Song of the moment: "Younger" by Seinabo Sey

Favorite place to hang out in DC: Georgetown waterfront

Superpower: The ability to be in two places at once so that she's able to take advantage of every single opportunity given to her.

If she could drop everything right now: She'd spend the next year traveling Asia

Meet Robyn!


IMG_5265 Meet Robyn Park, one of The Niche Movement’s summer interns! Robyn is a junior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC majoring in marketing and journalism. She was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea but recently moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. Among her interests are social entrepreneurship and design, and she also has a weakness for puppies - perfect since our office at WeWork allows dogs. Robyn likes Mexican food and long walks on the beach…just kidding. She actually is a sucker for Thai food and hiking in the Superstition Mountains.

When she isn’t working with Kevin, The Niche Movement and their clients, Robyn likes to hang out at a variety of museums around DC. Among her favorites are the National Portrait Gallery, the American Art Museum and the Hirshhorn. If that wasn’t enough, Robyn is also a passionate advocate for mental health awareness. She furthers the effort through a blog she plans to launch this summer.

This summer, she will work with Kevin and the Niche Movement to hone her social media marketing skills and gain greater experience in creating a digital voice and marketing strategy. In the future, Robyn hopes to use marketing and advertising to make a positive impact on the world (think social good). Another one of her aspirations is to travel the globe, visiting countries such as Italy, Iceland and Morocco.

We are so excited to welcome such a passionate and creative person to the Niche Movement family and can’t wait to see what she accomplishes! Want to learn more about Robyn? Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter. You can also contact her directly at