Jill Pfeiffer

I am the development and marketing director for YWCA Madison. I’ve been in this role for about seven months and have found the YWCA to be an incredible organization.

Our mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. When it comes to walking the talk, I’ve never been at a place that embraces its mission so fully.

Although being at the YWCA is new to me, working in non-profits is not. I’ve been in this field for over 20 years and even co-founded (with a dear friend, Ly Nguyen) a nonprofit in San Francisco: Oasis for Girls. This organization currently works with high school-aged young women in three areas: academic and career exploration, creative arts and social justice. They’re celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and it’s very exciting to see them reach that milestone.

In addition, I’m the mom to two beautiful kids, an artist—you can see samples of my work here—and one of the co-founders of Trash Talkers Group on Facebook.

I’m very committed to the idea of creating less waste and started picking up trash when I was out on my walks. A couple friends had aligned passion and, from there we started our Facebook page , which recently won a “Make a Difference” award. You can check out a clip about our efforts here. For me, it’s a feel good place on the internet.

I try to be mindful about the environmental impact of my choices—even something small like asking for a coffee mug instead of a to-go cup can make a difference.

I see some strong intersections in the environmental justice space between my concerns about pollution and the anti-racism work I do at the YWCA. I feel strongly that struggling communities will feel the most detrimental impact of pollution and climate change. It’s time for us to be more mindful.

At the same time, I also realize there is a level of privilege associated with the ability to make greener choices. It’s important to be aware of this as we work towards turning things around on our planet. In both the anti-racism and environmental work, there is always room for me to grow and learn. It’s a lifetime journey and commitment in both areas.

My most memorable caffeine was the cappuccino I made for Shel Silverstein. In 1993 I was a barista at the Victor Allen’s on State Street. Silverstein came in for a coffee. I knew it was him because I’d seen his pictures on the back of his books—I was a big fan as a kid.

My current caffeine of choice is a coffee made on my brand new Mr. Coffee machine. My husband and I started out by drinking  very sweet mochas from Caribou Coffee right after I had our second child. I never drank coffee regularly before then—even when I was a barista—but after having two kids and working fulltime, I needed that caffeine.

I eventually weened myself off those after realizing how much sugar was in them. For a long time we had a fancy Italian machine at home that was always breaking—we spent a lot of time looking up repair videos on YouTube. The last time it broke we decided to go old school and got a Mr. Coffee. My new favorite drink is the coffee that’s waiting for me every morning courtesy of my husband and Mr. Coffee. Maybe good coffee really is this simple.

My favorite place for caffeine is the Ancora on King Street. It’s close to work and I love the seating options and the energy—the turquoise color is great, it makes me happy. Plus, the coffee is good too. Another favorite place is my dear friend’s house in Viroqua. It has big windows that have platforms full of birdseed. On a cold, sunny winter day it’s lovely to sit there with a cup of coffee and watch the birds.

The people I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with are my maternal grandmother and my mother. My mom was three months pregnant with me when her mother died of cancer.

I’ve often thought meeting my grandma would be wonderful and I’d want my mom at the table too. My grandmother’sparents emigrated here from Eastern Europe and with her death we lost some of the knowledge and connection to the old country. It would be nice to have a better understanding of our history and what is was like to be a Jewish immigrant in Chicago in the early 1900s.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: If we got more creative in how we use our resources and made a commitment to breaking down existing systems and structures, I think we could make some big improvements. In my opinion, we need to change our way of thinking about scarcity and abundance. Many people think of the world from a scarcity model: there aren’t enough resources  to go around.

But you don’t have to look too hard to see that much of the problem is really about distribution and how we are choosing to use resources. Think of all the food grown that never makes it to a table and we still have so many  hungry people. How are we not making brilliant connections to solve these problems on a large scale?

Imagine what we could accomplish if we were all on the same page.