Loss (of a) leader: Startup community builder Joe Maruschak is leaving Eugene and Oregon

For some folks, this may come as a shock. For many of us in similar roles, we’re like “Yep. It was only a matter of time.” Joe Maruschak, who has been instrumental in mentoring, advising, and investing in startups in the Eugene, Oregon, and Lane County region, is leaving because the role he’s been serving is not effectively supported from a financial standpoint.

Joe’s post is a glimpse into a not-so-secret secret conversation that happens in Twitter DMs, Slack, emails, and Zoom calls among folks in these roles across the country and around the world. Folks driven by passion over profit. Folks who do the work independent of a fancy job title — or even a clearly defined volunteer role. Folks who give and give, regardless of the time commitment, stress, and emotional tax.

Not a day goes by that another passionate community builder or manager doesn’t bemoan the unsustainable nature of the work. Or the misunderstanding of what the work is. Or the absolutely debilitating mental and emotional anguish of feeling like your work isn’t valued.

So this departure isn’t unexpected or surprising. It’s been a long time coming. And it’s a trend that’s likely to continue as this generation of startup community builders come to the end of their proverbial ropes.

As Joe puts it:

My career path took a detour from doing startups to becoming a startup community builder. I ended up either starting or working with several organizations that helped not just one, but several startup companies, and in the process, made friends with, and supported, hundreds of entrepreneurs.…

But, I have stopped growing, and I have been finding it difficult to put together enough work that does not make my life a collection of endless side hustles. It is time for me to move on.

It’s a loss for the community, for the state, and for any number of founders in the region. But, honestly, it’s the right thing to do. And it’s the right thing for Joe.

Thank you so much, Joe. For all of the mentorship, guidance, and camaraderie around founders, startups, accelerators, and community. I know this is not the end of that. But I look forward to continuing our collaboration once you are in a healthier and more supportive atmosphere for the invaluable work I’ve seen you do.

You will be missed.

For more on Joe’s departure and the reasoning behind it, read “Last Call! Sadly saying goodbye to a community.”

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