Members on the Move

Getting to Know 2017 AFP Chicago Fellow, Anna Villarreal, Donor Relations & Development Director, Boy Scouts of America, Pathway to Adventure Council

Anna Villarreal is a highly self-motivated and results-driven non-profit management professional with entrepreneurial passion, drive and vision. Anna earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology at Northeastern Illinois University. She began her career working with students with behavioral and learning disabilities in Chicago Public Schools. Working in Chicago Public Schools, Anna discovered her passion for building stronger families and communities. She realized that more needed to be done outside of school to carry out her mission. She began working for the local Boy Scouts of America chapter five years ago. As a result of her successful efforts in leadership and fundraising she was promoted to Development Director. As Scouting evolved in the Chicagoland area, Anna was tasked to develop a major gifts strategy and guide its execution. The long-term plan will allow Scouting supporters to play a larger role to grow the movement. In this role she has worked diligently in managing and securing half a million dollars in major gifts annually.

Anna strives to do her part to carry out a larger goal for humanity. She intends to gain the necessary tools and knowledge base presented by the fellowship program to ensure the success in her personal career growth and the growth of Scouting. In her spare time Anna enjoys spending time with her husband and her two dogs on the north side of Chicago.

Anna, when and how did your interest in development begin?

Working in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) directly with youth, I got to know firsthand the problems youth faced in their communities and home. Many of the scholars I worked with had difficulty focusing for a myriad of reasons, one being not having a stable home and environment to grow in. I wanted to do more for the kids that are growing up in Chicago the way that I did. I was unsure of how I could make a bigger impact until I was approached by Scouting. I was hesitant at first to walk away from CPS, but when I learned what kind of impact I could be making I fell in love with the program.

My interest in development began when I realized early on that funding was a necessary component to carrying out vital programs for youth. I learned that there are endless possibilities of raising funds if you just start a conversation with the right person.

Can you tell us a little bit about your work at Boy Scouts of America? What is your favorite part about working for the organization?

My favorite part has been meeting families that are extremely dedicated to Scouting. There is a passion for Scouting that I have not yet seen in another organization. When you think of Scouting, you think of the young boy that will help your grandmother cross the street. There is so much more to the organization that not many know about. I know that my work in development impacts the lives of the 26,000+ Scouts and families we serve, which is very rewarding.

Currently, I am working to expand our work force development programs. This co-ed program is known as Exploring and serves young people 12 to 20 years old. One of the pilot programs I oversee is for middle school girls in 6th-8th grade. They will focus on honing their leadership and outdoor skills to bring them up to the same level as a Boy Scout the same age. If the program catches on it has the potential to be adopted nationally. This is just one example of the type of work that I truly enjoy and am passionate about.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that young development professionals face today?

I feel that the biggest challenge young development professional’s face is not gaining the needed experience or skills that employers seek. It is difficult to break into this field without enough experience and in turn you are not sought out by potential employers because of the lack of experience. Which is why the fellowship program that AFP Chicago provides is extremely important for young development professionals.

What is your favorite quote or your motto?

We cannot become what we want by remaining who we are. –Max Depree

You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year. What are you looking forward to as you participate in this program?

I am looking forward to meeting the talented professionals that work in my field. Together we can learn from each other and be a support system for one another. If you want to go far, work collaboratively if you want to go fast, work alone. I am a huge believer in team work for that reason. Development skills are gained through learning from people who are successful in their careers. AFP is offering that to us and I am very grateful for the opportunity.


 

Getting to Know 2017 AFP Chicago Fellow, Betsy Rubinstein, Associate Director of Strategic Development for Heartland Human Care Services (HHCS)


Betsy Rubinstein, MA, LSW
is a Licensed Social Worker and the Associate Director of Strategic Development for Heartland Human Care Services (HHCS). Over the past eight years in the non-profit sector, Betsy has developed and pursued her passion for philanthropy, women’s health, LGBTQ issues, and social justice. In her role as Associate Director, she provides leadership in program development, grant writing, strategic planning and quality management. Prior to working at HHCS, Betsy managed the Lesbian Community Care Project at Howard Brown Health, which included overseeing the organization’s women’s health department. In addition to her role at HHCS, she serves as Board Chair for Chicago Women’s Health Center, and is a former member of the LBTQ Giving Council of Chicago Foundation for Women.

Betsy holds an MA in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and a BA in Philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis. Betsy was recognized by The L Stop as one of the “Top Ten Chicago Lesbians to Look Out For” in 2012, and by the Windy City Times as a “30 Under 30” awardee in 2013. Betsy lives with her wife and daughter in Evanston, Illinois.

Betsy, when and how did your interest in development begin?

My interest in development began when I sat on the LBTQ Giving Council of Chicago Foundation for Women between 2010 and 2014. The Council was a giving circle of women who were dedicated to fundraising and grant-making for lesbian, bisexual, and queer women, as well as transgender people. With this group, I was proud to collaboratively raise around $12,000 each year to give out small grants that really made a difference for these grassroots organizations. It was at this time that I learned about the power of development and philanthropy, and recognized that even the best conceived programs cannot operate if they don’t have the resources to accomplish it.

Can you tell us a little bit about your work at Heartland Human Care Services? What is your favorite part about working for the organization?

My role at HHCS is the Associate Director of Strategic Development, which means that I work together with our program team to develop and design new social service programs, and create the concept and content for grant proposals. I also produce grant proposals for existing programming to ensure that we can continue doing our impactful work. My grant proposals focus on a variety of program areas including workforce development, refugee and immigrant services, supportive services for public housing residents, asset building, domestic and sexual violence recovery, freedom from trafficking, and vulnerable youth. My role also includes conducting prospect research on new and existing funding sources to make recommendations for future cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship strategies.

My favorite part about working for HHCS, and Heartland Alliance as a whole, is the plethora of services that we offer our participants. Our anti-poverty programs include everything from safety, health, housing, education, economic opportunity, and justice, so there is never a dull moment with program development.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that young development professionals face today?

I think the biggest challenge is that there isn’t necessarily a clear educational path to the development field. When I was in school for social service administration, I think there was one class on grant writing, but I don’t remember there being anything else focused on development. If there are other areas of study that direct people to the development field, I’m not aware of them. Then, once someone has landed in the development field, there is a tendency to get siloed in a specific area. Grant writing is a good example of this. Once someone develops their skills in grant writing, it is difficult to move into other parts of development (e.g., individual giving, appeal-writing, campaigns, major gifts, special events, etc.). I feel lucky that I work at a place like Heartland Alliance, where the development and marketing/communications team is made up of almost 20 people, because I get an opportunity to try out and develop my skills in other areas of development.

What is your favorite quote or your motto?

“Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.” – Euripides.

This brings me back to my Philosophy days, but it still rings true today. Essentially, for me, this means that it is important to always be a life-long learner.

You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year. What are you looking forward to as you participate in this program?

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do some hands-on workshops focused on a variety of development skills. For example, over the summer, we will be participating in a workshop focused on major gifts, and we’ll have an opportunity to role-play and practice the skill of soliciting major gifts. The development field, to me, is something that you learn by doing. So, the opportunity to practice these skills is very exciting. I feel grateful to be a part of the AFP Chicago Fellows program this year.

Getting to Know AFP Chicago Board Member, Crystal Williams, CNP, Assistant Director at the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management at North Park University

 
Crystal Williams is assistant director at the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management at North Park University. Founded in 1999, the Axelson Center is a resource for nonprofit staff and volunteers in the Chicago region. Professional, non-credit educational programs are offered throughout the year including in-person workshops, a three-day intensive BootCamp for New Nonprofit CEOs program and customized trainings. In her role, Crystal oversees execution of all programs and is the lead for content development. She has more than 10 years of nonprofit experience and started her career in fundraising. Prior to joining North Park University in 2013, she served as development associate at Horizons for Youth and development director at Our Lady of Tepeyac High School.

Crystal has a Bachelor of Arts from Dominican University and a Master of Nonprofit Administration from North Park University. She received her Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance in 2014. Crystal is a board member with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Chicago Chapter and was recently elected to serve in 2017 as board secretary, an officer position on the executive committee.

Crystal, when and how did your interest in development begin?

As a child, I was a Girl Scout. I sold quite a few cookies (with the help of my parents) and learned how important it is to make the ask because you never know who will say yes. As I entered middle school, I gave fundraising a rest then in my sophomore year of college, I was a phonathon caller. I discovered I had a real knack for developing a rapport with donors and prospects. After a couple semesters, I was promoted to phonathon manager and have been passionate about fundraising ever since.

What is your favorite part about working for North Park?

North Park is a joyful place where community abounds and Swedish traditions like fika, to connect with others over coffee, are cherished. I have wonderful colleagues at North Park and it is a pleasure working alongside them as we serve those who come to learn and study at our institution.

What is your motto or favorite quote?

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

What do you enjoy doing in your time away from your development work?

I enjoy cooking, trying new restaurants and connecting with friends. This year, I also became a runner and completed the Chicago Marathon. It was incredible!

You joined the AFP board this year. What are a couple of highlights?

I was excited to have my first experience as a board member with AFP Chicago. I served on the committee on directorship and strategic planning committee. I’m looking forward to several initiatives in the strategic plan including greater collaboration with the broader philanthropic community, enhancing leadership development at the board and committee level, and a renewed focus on engagement with our members.


 

Getting to Know 2016 AFP Chicago Membership Committee Co-Chair, Teresa Battaglia, Donor Relations Coordinator, Archdiocese of Chicago

Teresa Battaglia is the Donor Relations Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Chicago. She earned a bachelor's degree in history from DePaul University.  Teresa specializes in donor relations, event planning, and volunteer management.  In her free time, she enjoys strength and conditioning training, cheering on her Chicago Blackhawks, and dining out with friends. 

Teresa, when and how did your interest in development begin?
My interest in development began my junior year of college while interning at Big Shoulders Fund. Up to that point, I had only really known charitable giving as canned food or clothing drives, giving your loose change to charity, or scholarships for school.  I didn't realize there was strategic planning involved or the importance of the relationships that acted as the base for giving. It was very eye-opening to see that someone could do this for a living. I always tell people that everyone says you can be a lawyer, a teacher or a doctor, but no one tells you that you can a fundraiser. 

What is your favorite part about working for the Archdiocese of Chicago?
A majority of the projects I handle benefit scholarships and programming for the Office of Catholic Schools. The Archdiocese of Chicago's Catholic Schools is the largest private school system in the country.  We have many families who struggle with tuition payments, yet still send their children to our schools because they understand the importance of students receiving individualized attention in caring environments. I firmly believe every student deserves access to the best possible education, regardless of their family's socioeconomic standing.  I received scholarship support to attend my Chicago Catholic high school, so I'm happy the process has gone full circle, and has allowed me to help others. 

What is your motto or favorite quote?
"Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes." 

What do you enjoy doing in your time away from your development work?
When I'm not working, I enjoy strength and conditioning training and trying new restaurants. I'm a lifelong Chicago Blackhawks fan and I am that person on your Facebook feed who shares ALL the Panda Bear videos. Sorry I'm not sorry. 

You’re Co-Chair of the AFP Chicago Membership committee. Can you tell us what your committee experience has been like so far? What are you looking forward to?
Sitting on the membership committee has given me the opportunity to interact with a large number of AFP Chicago members. Whether I interacted with them at one of our happy hour events, or I spoke to them on our outreach phone calls, it's always been about building relationships. In development, the relationships we build with our donors are key to our success, but so are the relationships with build with others in our field.  The best thing I have received from AFP is access to others in development who have experienced the triumphs and failures that I have experienced. I now have a group of people I can turn to and ask advice or brainstorm with, who know what I'm talking about when I say "direct mail" or "major gift solicitation".  I think in any field, you need those types of checks and balances. It's crucial to your professional development and if you don't grow professionally, you're wasting your time and your talent. 


 

Getting to Know 2016 AFP Chicago Fellow Robin Knox, Assistant Director of Development, Family Rescue

Robin Knox is the Assistant Director of Development at Family Rescue, one of Illinois’ largest and most comprehensive domestic violence agencies dedicated to eliminating domestic violence by providing support services, shelter, advocacy and prevention through community education.  Previously, Robin worked as the foundation manager for The Heartland Institute, a think tank promoting public policy. She has over eight years of experience in the non-profit sector, and approximately three years as a major gifts officer. She graduated from Chicago State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is currently, attending North Park University to complete a graduate certificate in fundraising management.  She has been a member of AFP Chicago Chapter for the past three years.  

Robin, when and how did your interest in development begin?

My interest in development stemmed from a traumatic event that happened on Thanksgiving 2011, a member of my graduating class in high school was murdered. A close friend asked for my help in planning an alumni basketball game to raise funds for his two children and to establish a scholarship in his honor. The event was a huge success and we received an enormous amount of support from the school, alumni, and community. As luck should have it or perhaps it was God’s plan, a month later I was offered an opportunity to join the development department at my previous place of employment and the rest is history.

What is the best part about working for Family Rescue?

The best part about working for Family Rescue is also one of the most challenging parts of working for Family Rescue and that’s serving the victims of domestic violence. It has been a rewarding experience see victims escape abusive situations and go on to lead, normal, violence-free, independent lives. Yet, it is also difficult to hear some of the survivor stories. These women and children experience things that you would only see in a horror movie, but seeing their courage and strength motivates me to work harder for them. I know that Family Rescue is making a difference in the community.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that young development professionals face today?

I think the biggest challenge that young development professionals face today is being taken seriously. As the age old adage states, “with age comes wisdom” and although this statement is very true, there are a lot of young development professionals making strides in the fundraising community. There are a lot of us young dedicated professionals just waiting to make our mark on the world.

What is your motto or favorite quote?

“The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.” -- Ayn Rand

You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year. What are you looking forward to as you participate in this program? What have you enjoyed so far?

I am always looking forward to the educational breakfast. As fellows we get an opportunity to meet with presenters in a one-on-one session after presentations. It gives us a chance to ask any questions, get feedback and most importantly gives us direct access to seasoned professionals.


 

Getting to Know 2016 AFP Chicago Fellow Ashli Owens, Development Coordinator, Spark Chicago

Ashli Owens is a Development Coordinator for Spark Chicago, an organization that motivates students through workplace-based mentoring opportunities. Ashli's eagerness to close the achievement and opportunity gap for students began early as a college student through research and volunteering. A native of Michigan, Ashli served as a mentor and tutor providing ACT preparation and college access guidance to high school students in the Metro Detroit area.  After completing her undergraduate studies, Ashli served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for a nonprofit organization where she wrote grants for academic enrichment programs and provided program support.  Ashli is excited to be a part of Spark Chicago as Development Coordinator and enthusiastic to continue motivating students through workplace-based mentoring opportunities.  Ashli graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW). 

Ashli, when and how did your interest in development begin?

My interest in development began in 2012 when I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at ACCESS, a social service nonprofit in Dearborn, Michigan. There I built capacity in their Youth and Education department through grant writing and program development. This was one of my first introductions to an alternative to direct service where I could create social change around issues I am passionate about. I love that as a fundraising professional I am able to contribute to my organization’s mission while raising awareness among others.

What is your favorite part about working for Spark?

One of my favorite parts about working for Spark is the culture of the organization and staff. When applying to Spark, I was introduced to their values statement, which is something I had not seen at other organizations. Once joining the team it was clear that these values were key in driving in driving program implementation and employee engagement. “Be a student and a mentor.” This value in particular is what Spark is all about. As an expanded learning program that engages youth through mentoring, Spark also encourages its staff to embrace curiosity and to teach others. This has held true for me through the support Spark provided throughout my journey as an AFP Chicago Fellow promoting professional development and providing space for me to share and apply what I’ve learned.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that young development professionals face today?

I think one of the biggest challenges facing young development professionals is the lack of professional development resources. With many organizations having development teams small in size, it becomes more important to ensure effective and time efficient practices that will yield the greatest return. Professional development and mentor opportunities such as those offered through AFP go a long way in equipping young development professionals with the tools to be successful.

What is your motto or favorite quote?

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

I often think of this quote when building professional and personal relationships. Relationships are essential in various aspects of life and it is important to remember the impact and influence your words and actions can have.

You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year. What are you looking forward to as you participate in this program?

The AFP Chicago Fellows Program has been instrumental in my success thus far as a young professional new to development and new to the city of Chicago. In addition to learning from inspiring leaders, I have learned by listening to and sharing with my peers and have begun to build those personal and professional networks I spoke about before. The Fellows program provides a unique opportunity to share best practices, experiences, and more. I am excited to continue building the foundation for my career as a development professional.


 

Getting to know 2016 AFP Chicago Fellow Caryn Turgeon, Manager of Individual Giving and Special Events, Umoja Student Development Corporation


Caryn Turgeon
 is the Manager of Individual Giving and Special Events at Umoja Student Development Corporation, an education nonprofit preparing Chicago high school students for postsecondary success. She joined Umoja in April 2014 as an Education Projects Specialist. In her current role, Caryn wears many hats. She works closely with Umoja’s individual donors, plans the organization’s various events, and takes great pride in managing Umoja’s new Associates Board.

Prior to joining Umoja, Caryn managed early childhood and elementary arts education programming at Telfair Art Museums in Savannah, GA. Caryn believes that education is the ultimate equalizer. She believes that all students deserve education equity and access. Caryn received her M.A. in Arts Administration with a focus in Arts Education and Nonprofit Management from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). If not at work, you can find Caryn at the gym, in her kitchen, or out on an adventure with her wife.

Caryn, when and how did your interest in development begin?

It actually started when I was working at the Telfair in Savannah, GA. I worked in the education department and because of that, became very familiar with the museum’s grants and evaluation process. The majority of the museum budget would go towards art acquisition, exhibits, and special events. The education department would seek additional funding for programming and I would assist in writing about our programs and their impact on our visitors.

You wear many hats at Umoja. What’s your favorite part (or the best part) about working for the organization?

My favorite part of working for Umoja is the opportunity to share Umoja’s story with the public. We have grown so much in the last 18 years and it’s a real joy to engage with our donors through correspondence and social media, volunteer opportunities, and special events. What’s the best part? I work with an incredibly committed, talented, and passionate group of people. They inspire me every single day.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that young development professionals face today?

I think our biggest challenge is our fear of choice. When I first moved to Chicago and first started working in development, I felt like a very small fish in a very large pond. How would anyone hear my ideas? Who could I talk to about my goals? Where could I learn more about fundraising best practices? Was it in my best interest to join a Board? I had no idea how to operate within the pond. I knew I needed support, but I didn’t know where to start looking. I believe a lot of this has to do with accessibility to professional development opportunities/mentoring for those of us just starting out in the field. These opportunities exist; we just become paralyzed when faced with the decision of choosing what we want to do and how we want to do it. What if we pick the wrong opportunity? What if we don’t meet the right people? What will happen to our careers? How will we learn? It’s our millennial dilemma. It’s the constant case of FOMO (fear of missing out). This is why the AFP Chicago Fellows program is so important. I am thrilled that I have access to these resources, these people, and these programs. I’ve learned that we must take our professional growth into our own hands. It’s important to take the time to learn from your field, talk to others within the profession, and how your place of employment can be a part of the process. That knowledge and those opportunities ultimately make us, as young development professionals, stronger.  

What’s the latest adventure you’ve been on with your wife?

My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Kauai. We hiked, kayaked, went for runs along the coast, tried all sorts of incredible food, and soaked in the beauty of that island (if you haven’t been, I HIGHLY recommend it). Kauai is an adventurer’s paradise and a relaxation dream come true. There is this incredible balance of physical challenge and mental calmness and clarity. We can’t wait to go back.

What is your motto or favorite quote?

I’m personally drawn to Neil Barringham’s “The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It”. I’m a good mix of realist and idealist. I think most positive, beautiful, noteworthy things in my life happen because I put in the work to make them happen. I’m very aware of my role in my life, my happiness, and my purpose. I rarely leave things up to fate.

You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year. What are you looking forward to as you participate in this program?

You know what’s crazy? I’ve learned so much in this fellowship and it’s only July. There’s still half a year and one-on-one mentoring on the horizon! This is an incredible opportunity. I’ve already begun crafting how I can incorporate what I’ve learned in my day-to-day work at Umoja and in what ways I can share my knowledge with the organization (our staff, our Boards).


 

Getting to know 2016 AFP Chicago Fellow Sabina Wee, Donor Care Manager, Marillac St. Vincent Family Services


Sabina Wee is the Donor Care Manager at Marillac St. Vincent Family Services, a social service agency serving the working poor of Chicago for over 100 years. She joined Marillac St. Vincent in December 2014 as a Development Coordinator, a role in which she created and grew the mid-level donor program. In her current role as the Donor Care Manager, she is fortifying the major gifts program by focusing on stewardship and building strong relationships with donors.

Prior to joining Marillac St. Vincent, Sabina coordinated and conducted autism research at a neuroscience lab at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). In San Diego she volunteered her time organizing events and coordinating volunteers for local organizations, activities in which she discovered her passion for social justice. Sabina received her B.A. in Human Development with a minor in Psychology from UCSD. When she’s not working or volunteering, you can find her exploring the next best restaurant in Chicago.

Sabina, when and how did your interest in development begin?

My interest in development began when my husband and I moved to Chicago from San Diego 2 years ago. I was given a unique chance to reassess my career path and after talking with a friend who works in development, I followed her suggestion to schedule informational interviews with other development professionals. After meeting with a few development professionals in Chicago, I was excited and determined to work at an organization that I’m passionate about and with other individuals who share my same values.

You found your passion for social justice through your work as a volunteer in San Diego. Can you tell us a little bit about your volunteer experiences?

My passion for social justice solidified when I started to organize monthly trips to a local teen homeless shelter in San Diego. I would recruit volunteers every month and come up with a menu, and we all brought home cooked meals to teens in the shelter and shared the meals with them. I always looked forward to those visits because we always learned something from the teens. I also coordinated public lectures and events for Awareness and Action for Autism at UCSD, in which I learned the importance of advocating for those who need help having their voices heard. It was a unique experience in that I was able to bring the research community of San Diego, undergraduate students, and families who are affected by Autism together to learn about the most recent research and what we can all do together to raise awareness.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that young development professionals face today?

I think one of the biggest challenges that young development professionals face is a clearly defined career path. The nature of working in nonprofits with limited resources forces us to be flexible and take on many roles at our organizations. Although it’s a great learning opportunity, it’s easy to get lost in the chaos and often lose sight of what your main focus should be. I’m fortunate to have a great boss and a supportive team to navigate through everything, but I often hear of other colleagues who are getting burnt out from doing so much. Because of this, I think having a great culture within your organization and having a mentor you can rely on is critical.

What’s the best restaurant you’ve explored in Chicago so far?

There are so many great restaurants in Chicago but the one that my husband and I always go back to is Spacca Napoli in Ravenswood. Although they don’t serve the traditional deep-dish Chicago pizza (which I also love), their fluffy pizza crusts that melt in your mouth cannot be beat!

What is your motto or favorite quote?

“Never mess with happy” is something I have written on a post-it note on my desk. It’s from a great blog by Rob Cummings, “The Weekend Briefing” (everyone should subscribe) in which he talks about defining success as being passionate about your work as well as working with passionate people. It might be tempting to consider a bigger salary or role from another organization, but it’s not worth it if your heart is not there. It’s always a great reminder to not stray away from what’s important to you.

You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year. What are you looking forward to as you participate in this program?

I’m looking forward to making more connections in the Chicago philanthropic world as well as learning more about development that I can take back to my organization and apply it to what we’re doing. I’ve already met great people and learned a lot and can’t wait for more. I’m also looking forward to making a deeper connection with my fellow fellows and staying in touch even after the program is over!


 

Getting to Know 2016 AFP Chicago Fellow Jamie Boban Ndayishimiye, Grants Manager, Erie Neighborhood House

Viewing herself as a global citizen, Jamie Boban Ndayishimiye has a deep passion for human rights. She is a non-profit and community development professional with seven years of experience in the field. Jamie is committed to empowering others to improve their quality of life and currently works as the Grants Manager for Erie Neighborhood House serving Chicago’s low-income and immigrant community. Jamie previously served as a volunteer grant writer and researcher in Kigali, Rwanda, where she built organizational capacity for Uyisenga N’Manzi, a local NGO supporting survivors of genocide and HIV/AIDS. She also served an as AmeriCorps VISTA in rural northern California.

Jamie was an ACED Fellow at the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development at Illinois State University earning her MS in Political Science and Applied Community Development in 2013. She earned a BS in Political Science and African Studies from ISU in 2009. Jamie is a newlywed and enjoys experiencing new cultures through travel, food, and dance, and she loves summertime in Chicago.

AFP Chicago: Jamie, when and how did your interest in development begin?

Jamie Boban NdayishimiyeI have always enjoyed writing, which I think helped grow my interest in grant writing and development work. In college I did a lot of volunteer work with Alterative Spring Breaks and a local after-school program. Once I was in graduate school, I was exposed to grant writing as a part of my assistantship. I also took a course in Project Management where we focused on grant writing skills. As part of my AmeriCorps VISTA position, I took on some fundraising responsibilities including grant writing and special events.  Once you have any experience in grant writing I think people recognize it as a special skill and continue to give you opportunities in that area.  I know that funds directly dictate the work you are able to achieve in the nonprofit world, which is why development work is so crucial.

AFP Chicago: You previously served as a volunteer grant writer and researcher in Kigali, Rwanda and as AmeriCorps VISTA in rural northern California. Can you share some personal insights from your experience?

Jamie Boban Ndayishimiye: Throughout my travels and work, I have learned that most people want the same things out of life – their basic needs met and a comfortable, safe, happy life. We all have a lot more in common than we typically acknowledge.  I’ve also learned that local solutions are always the answer to local problems. Amazing ideas and innovations happen everywhere, but the biggest challenge is resource capacity. Building organizational capacity is needed most to implement local solutions. 

AFP Chicago: What do you think is the biggest challenge that young development professionals face today?

Jamie Boban Ndayishimiye: For the nonprofit world, I think the current economic climate is the biggest challenge to young development professionals. It is becoming more challenging and highly competitive to secure resources. Additionally, professional development opportunities are severely lacking. I know that this challenge is a direct result of the tough economic climate, which is why opportunities like the AFP Chicago Fellowship are so important to help young professionals grow in their careers.

AFP Chicago: What is your favorite quote or your motto? And, why?

Jamie Boban Ndayishimiye: "Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." -Desmond Tutu

Doing the best you can with what you have is so important. I think having a positive impact on your community is essential to social justice.

AFP Chicago: You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year. What are you looking forward to as you participate in this program?

Jamie Boban Ndayishimiye: I am looking forward to growing a network of supportive, likeminded individuals who share a passion for social justice and nonprofit work. Being part of a group that can provide guidance and expertise in my specific career field is an amazing resource. I also look forward to the valuable professional development opportunities to which I would otherwise not have access.

 


 

Conversation with Edith Falk, Co-Founder of Campbell & Company, Principal of Falk Consulting 

Edith Falk is the co-founder and former Chair of Campbell & Company, the Chicago based consulting company that provides fundraising, executive search, communications and strategic information services to a wide range of non-profit organizations across the country.  Earlier this year, Edith stepped down from her role at Campbell & Company.  As principal of Falk Consulting, she continues to provide fundraising, board governance and strategic planning counsel to area nonprofits seeking to strengthen their organization’s capacity and philanthropic support. 

AFP CHICAGO: Edith, when did you get involved with AFP/AFP Chicago?

Edith Falk: I first became involved with AFP’s predecessor organization very early in my career.  The group was called the Chicago Society of Fund-Raisers (CSFR) and it had maybe 50 or so members at the time.  We were one of only a few similar organizations across the country.  A quick bit of history:  As more communities developed similar groups and as membership grew across the country, the National Society of Fund-Raisers, was established, and CSFR became a chapter of that organization, and changed its name to match, eventually becoming AFP Chicago, when the national organization changed its name.

AFP CHICAGO: Why did you get involved?

Edith Falk: CSFR was a great way to meet other professionals in our field, to hear about trends affecting philanthropy in our community, and to share information about best practices and interesting developments in our industry.  Many of the people I met in those early years remained as colleagues and friends throughout my career.

AFP CHICAGO: How did AFP Chicago help your career?

Edith Falk: From the beginning, the Chicago chapter has had the reputation for putting on strong educational programs, and I learned so much from these and from the many talented professionals who have been involved with the organization over the years.  I had the privilege of serving as Board chair during the early 90’s, which gave me a “learn by doing” opportunity to hone my leadership skills and build consensus around issues around which there were often multiple points of view….skills which I was able to carry over into my consulting work.

AFP CHICAGO: Is there any particular person you credit to introducing you to AFP and/or the nonprofit field?

Edith FalkIn all honesty, I sort of “stumbled into” development work.  I knew from the time I was in college that I wanted to be involved in the nonprofit community, and I started my career as a grant writer for an international exchange organization.  At that time, we were all called “fundraisers”; the word “development” hadn’t yet entered the lexicon, at least not in this context.

Don Campbell was actually responsible for my becoming involved with our professional organization.  He was an active participant, an early Board member and Board chair, and a leading force behind the creation of NSFR and our chapter becoming a member.

AFP CHICAGO: How did the nonprofit field shift for professionals over the course of your tenure, and how has AFP been involved in this shift?

Edith FalkOh my…there isn’t time nor space enough to talk about the changes in our profession since I first started work in our field.  Back then, what we called donor segmentation meant separating our lists into donors, non-donors and lapsed donors.  Today, we have access to incredibly rich data that enable us to address our donors and prospects based on their relationships, interests and giving history with our organization.   Previously, there was very little in the way of coursework, research or publications in our field.  AFP and its predecessor were real leaders in providing strong education programming and publications that addressed the needs of our profession.  Today, our colleagues have access to certificate and degree programs that can give meaningful boosts to their careers and a plethora of publications and other resources.  And, while we still have a ways to go, AFP’s membership increasingly reflects the diversity of our community, which is vital to our collective ability to be agents of change within our organizations and the larger nonprofit community.

AFP CHICAGO: Any additional information you want to provide about your career and current work and how AFP has been a part of it.

Edith Falk:I feel fortunate to be part of a community of practitioners who truly care about our community and who are committed to making a difference.  Through its educational programming, mentorship programs, advocacy work and so much more, AFP and AFP/Chicago have been leaders in giving all of us a forum through which our voices can be heard and our work can have a stronger impact.


Conversation with Shawn Gavin, Director of Development, Alumni Relations & Development, Northwestern School of Law and AFP Chicago Treasurer 


Shawn Gavin is the Director of Development, Alumni Relations & Development at the Northwestern School of Law. He is also the 2015 AFP Chicago Treasurer. We caught up with Shawn recently to discuss changes in the fundraising profession, why he initially got involved with AFP Chicago, and how AFP Chicago has helped fuel his professional advancement. 

AFP CHICAGO: Shawn, when did you get involved with AFP/AFP Chicago?

Shawn Gavin: I joined AFP in 2004 and started actively volunteering a few years after that.

AFP CHICAGO: Why did you get involved?

Shawn Gavin: Mostly it was to meet other fundraisers. At the time I was working at a small not-for-profit as the only fundraiser and I really wanted to connect with other people who understood what I did and the challenges I faced. Also, I have always seen being part of AFP as a sign of commitment – not just to the individual organizations we serve, but to the profession.

AFP CHICAGO: How has AFP Chicago helped your career?

Shawn Gavin: There’s no doubt that my involvement with AFP has helped fuel my professional advancement. Attending the Midwest Conference and educational programs has helped me keep abreast of trends and learn new skills.  But the volunteer service has been even more impactful because it has given me another important arena in which to grow my leadership abilities.  Finally, I wouldn’t have obtained my CFRE if it were not for AFP. Having that credential has proven beneficial with employers and even with with donors because it’s a clear sign of commitment to excellent and ethical practice.

AFP CHICAGO: Is there any particular person you credit to introducing you to AFP and/or the nonprofit field?

Shawn Gavin: Heather Eddy was my supervisor and mentor when I first came to Chicago and joined the Alford Group. She took me to my first AFP events and instilled an appreciation for the importance of professional development in our field. Karen Sims is the person who encouraged me to take on more in a volunteer capacity, initially on our chapter’s wonderful Peer Mentoring Committee, and I would credit her with paving the way for my greater involvement and joining the board.  

AFP CHICAGO: How has the nonprofit field shifted for professionals over the course of your career, and has AFP been instrumental in this shift?

Shawn Gavin: There seems to have been a trend towards greater professionalization in the field, at least in fundraising.  We hold ourselves to a higher standard as practitioners and the infrastructure available to help us do that – degree programs, trainings, resource organizations (e.g., the Donor’s Forum) – seems to have expanded dramatically.  AFP has led the way for these changes by helping fundraisers to see themselves as part of a profession, continually promoting skilled and ethical practice, and offering top-notch training opportunities.


 

Gettting to Know 2015 AFP Chicago Fellow Rosa Yadira Ortiz, Development Director at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH)

Rosa Yadira Ortiz is the Development Director at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH), an organization committed to supporting the sexual health, identities, and rights of youth.  Most recently, Rosa served as the Development and Communication Manager at Western States Center working to achieve racial, gender, and environmental justice through individual fundraising, grants management, and communications strategies. Rosa previously served as the Midwest Community Educator for Lambda Legal, where she provided trainings and engaged community members and organizations throughout the Midwest on LGBTQ justice. In this work, she focused particularly on the intersections of LGBTQ, people of color, and immigrant communities. Rosa’s deep commitment to social justice is evident in her current volunteer work with Crossroads Fund (Chicago) in their inaugural Given Project program, past participation in the volunteer Grant Makers Committee of the McKenzie River Gathering (MRG) Foundation (Portland, OR), and as past Board President and Member of Amigas Latinas. She holds a Master of Arts in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor of Art from DePaul University in Spanish and Latin American/Latino Studies.

AFP CHICAGO: Rosa, you have nearly ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector in the areas of student affairs, community engagement and trainings, and development and communications.  When and how did your interest in development begin? 

It was always engrained in me that investing in your community is important. My mom role modeled this behavior when she donated to church weekly and was an active participant in our local park district. However, I became more engaged in development when I attended my first GIFT (Grassroots Institute for Fundraising and Training) conference. I was in awe to be in a space with so many community activists, organizers, and advocates—many of whom were people of color—that genuinely believed we can fund our own movement. The power of organizing transferred to organizing around money was contagious!

AFP CHICAGO: Can you share some of your personal insights from your work with Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH)?

Rosa Yadira Ortiz: It’s been remarkable to work at an organization that is so deeply committed to reproductive justice from a multidimensional lens. In the wake of heightened criminalization of Black and Brown communities, we realized that when speaking about reproductive justice we also needed to bring to the forefront the connections with racial justice. While the conversations are hard and uncomfortable, and so deeply personal, I am appreciative of being at an organization that knows it’s important that we talk about the current racial climate in the U.S. And that these conversations are indeed an issue of reproductive justice as it impacts the way we create, sustain, and keep our families safe. 

AFP CHICAGO: Can you share some details on your interest in social justice as well as your role as a volunteer with Crossroads Fund (Chicago)?

Rosa Yadira Ortiz: I recently moved back to my hometown after living in Portland, OR for a few years. I volunteered at the McKenzie River Gathering (MRG) Foundation, a state based community foundation, and was riveted with the process and the opportunity to use all my skill sets in supporting social justice work in Oregon. When I came back home, I knew that I wanted to continue to be involved in supporting local movements. I have long admired Crossroads for their courageous work to be at the forefront of grassroots organizing and activism. Their commitment to supporting what is deemed radical is inspiring and something I wanted to support with my time and money. The Giving Project was the perfect place as it was a pilot project to fundraise $100,000 in six months with a group of 20 people. We not only met our goal, but we surpassed it! Thanks to these funds, organizations throughout Chicago who are at the forefront of the movements are able to continue to do the necessary and important work.

AFP CHICAGO: What do you think is the biggest challenge young development professionals face today? 

Rosa Yadira Ortiz: Scarcity and competition. Often we believe, or buy into the belief, that there aren’t enough funds, that donors are tired of giving, that our new pitch isn’t “fancy” enough and people won’t give. I just don’t believe that because like many other people, I still give to the organizations I care most about. This is not to say that individual giving and private foundation support hasn’t been difficult to receive particularly during the economic crisis and for organizations like mine that do multi-issue work; but I do believe that people genuinely want to give back.

Another issue is the constant feeling that people/organizations are competing for that dollar from the donor or the foundation and thus, don’t want to share contacts, information, resources, or even make referrals for fear that they won’t get funded or that they will get less money. Perhaps it goes back to the scarcity model, but this competition, I believe, harms the field. We are greater when we work together, when we support one another, and bring the opportunity to fund a larger movement to a donor or foundation and in doing so, make a greater impact. 

AFP CHICAGO: You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year.  What have you enjoyed or learned thus far? What are you looking forward to the most as you continue to participate in this program?

Rosa Yadira Ortiz: I am incredibly appreciative to AFP Chicago for this opportunity! I so happened to look at AFP’s website and saw the fellowship opportunity a day or two before the deadline and jumped on the chance to be part of the Fellows program. The conversations we are able to have with seasoned development professionals have been the most rewarding. AFP Chicago has allowed young professionals to ask the uncomfortable and vulnerable questions and the advice and input has been invaluable.


 

Gettting to Know 2015 AFP Chicago Fellow Christine Holt, Director of Development for The Boulevard


Christine Holt
is Director of Development for The Boulevard (formerly Interfaith House). She has over 15 years of experience in healthcare-related social services and nonprofit development. While earning a B.A. in International Service at Moody Bible Institute, she began working with both local and overseas organizations that served people exiting poverty and homelessness. She served as the Donor Relations Manager at New Moms Inc. in the Austin neighborhood, has been a nonprofit program manager specializing in youth programs, and has worked as a freelancer in development/communications at the Donors Forum. Christine joined The Boulevard in 2013.                                                                                                                                      
Christine, you have a B.A. in International Service and extensive experience in health-care related social services and nonprofit development.  When and how did your interest in development begin? 

When I was at New Moms I learned that a large part of development is communications, and I really appreciate purposeful, effective storytelling. I became interested in development when I realized I could use messaging to serve organizations that help people build stronger lives.    

Can you share some of your personal insights from your work with The Boulevard (formerly Interfaith House)?

I’m seeing that there are certainly important development concepts that each of us must absorb and utilize, but that there is no one magical “cookie-cutter” method of successful development work. We all have to work within our own opportunities and strengths. Likewise, each agency is distinct. Every organization must adapt to the needs, strengths, challenges and opportunities of their own situation, as time allows and as changes dictate. Ongoing, thoughtful evaluation is key. That is why I’m excited that The Boulevard Board of Directors is currently taking our agency through high-level assessment and strategic planning. When they are done, our Development team will be making adjustments to help implement whatever exciting plans are to come. We want to make the most effective, most lasting impact on homelessness in Chicago that we possibly can. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge young development professionals face today? 

This is a tough field. It’s definitely worth the effort! But there’s nothing easy about development, especially when there is so much competition for donor attention, and when terms like “fundraising” and “charity” tend to get so much negative press and when priorities seem to conflict. It’s important to avoid being discouraged by setbacks, feedback or a lack of support. Happily, newer development professionals can cultivate supportive professional relationships (like AFP); and they need to find their own personal way to “do development”, defining and using their own specific skills and experience. That can be a lengthy process…and of course, we all keep adding proficiencies as we continue!

You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year.  What have you enjoyed or learned thus far? What are you looking forward to the most as you continue to participate in this program?

The Fellows program has helped me deliberately play to my strengths while surrounding me with peers and more experienced leaders who can help fill in the gaps of knowledge, or experience. It’s been really valuable: I look forward to furthering some great new professional friendships that will help me serve and build up my organization. 


Getting to Know 2015 AFP Chicago Fellow Becky Panter, Development Manager for A Better Chicago

Becky Panter is the Development Manager for A Better Chicago.  She joined the organization in 2014 and is a member of the advancement team.  Prior to joining A Better Chicago, Becky spent two years at Fiedler Hillel at Northwestern University, where she was a development associate. Earlier in her career, Becky was an elementary school teacher in Memphis for two years with Teach For America. She has also worked at the Chicago History Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Becky holds a BA in history from Boston University.

Becky, you’ve been an elementary school teacher with Teach for America and have a degree in history.  When and how did your interest in development begin? 

I’ve been fortunate to have had a number of great internship and volunteer experiences throughout college, while teaching and after my time in the classroom that gave me unique perspectives into the nonprofit world. I’ve come to understand development largely as a form of storytelling. I’ve always loved storytelling, it was one of my favorite parts of being a teacher and it’s why I studied history in college. Development allows me to continue my love for storytelling, only with great potential impact on causes for which I care deeply. I think the stories shared by development professionals have the power to inspire and empower others and to give a voice to people or issues that may have otherwise been forgotten or unheard.

Has your experience in education influenced your work in development?  If so, how?

After two years of teaching, I left the classroom armed with stories of educational inequity and a passion to close the opportunity gap that I saw firsthand. I think my experience in education has made my work in development feel much more personal because I’m not just promoting education on behalf of A Better Chicago or on behalf of the thousands of students served by Chicago Public Schools, but also for my second and third grade students from my classroom. I feel a deep commitment to the cause and I think that passion drives my work in development.

What do you think is the biggest challenge young development professionals face today? 

I think young development professionals face similar challenges to professionals in other fields: proving your credibility, learning the dynamics of the space, challenging established systems. I think for development specifically, so much of the work is based on personal relationships. As younger or new development professionals we may still be building our personal and professional brands and so there is a lot of trust still to be earned.

A Better Chicago drives social change “through smart philanthropy that strengthens organizations and accelerates change.”  Tell us more about how that works. 

A Better Chicago works to create greater educational opportunity for Chicago’s low-income students. We believe everyone deserves a great education. Not just an ok education, but the type of education that empowers people, ignites economies and elevates communities. We also believe in the power of philanthropy to drive social change. Not through charity as usual but through well-researched investments into high performing nonprofits that have the potential to grow and reach even more students if given the right financial resources and project management support. By investing heavily in solutions that work, and by holding ourselves accountable to results, we believe that we can dramatically improve educational prospects for Chicago’s youth.

You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year.  What are you looking forward to the most as you participate in this program?

I’ve loved being an AFP Chicago Fellow! It is a great honor to be grouped with really talented development professionals and to share best practices and lessons learned together. I’m most looking forward to continuing to have the space to discuss and get insights and advice from other young development professionals and industry experts.


Visit the AFP Chicago Fellows Alumni page for more Fellows news!


 

Getting to Know 2015 AFP Chicago Fellow Chanta Williams, Development Manager for Cabrini Green Legal Aid  


Chanta Williams
is the Development Manager at Cabrini Green Legal Aid where she is responsible for donor relations and external communications. She honed many of her development talents serving as a volunteer for many of her favorite Chicago area charities. Chanta graduated cum laude from Spelman College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2010. She loves studying trends in charitable giving and is particularly fascinated by the philanthropic behaviors of the millennial generation.

Chanta, when and how did your interest in development begin?  I became interested in development, working in the Office of Alumnae Affairs at Spelman College. I didn’t even understand what development was at the time. Members of the Institutional Advancement team thought I would be a great ambassador for Spelman so I began speaking at donor events across the city and southern region. I was completing task related to appeals, campaigns, cultivation and stewardship events. I worked with individuals in the Annual Giving, Major Gifts, Planned Giving, Special Events, and Corporate and Foundation Relations departments.  I was learning about all of the major components of development and had no clue. I thought it was fun. I felt accomplished when we reached goals. I thought, what better place than Spelman to raise money and cultivate my philanthropy.

You have a special interest in the philanthropic behaviors of the millennial generation.  What trends are you seeing, and how do you think that will impact the profession in the future?  Millennials certainly make development professionals work harder. They are a demanding bunch requiring more transparency from organization and real-time social media interaction.  They are interested in investing in non-profits rather than just donating. They are the generation of the “servant leader. ” They want to be involved and hands-on before offering monetary support to causes they care about. It has and will continue to greatly impact the cultivation and communication strategies employed by development professionals. It will also force non-profits to be intentional about it selection and use of technology.

What do you think is the biggest challenge young development professionals face today?  I think we face issues that are pretty common in out-come driven industries. We are always fighting for the “good territories”  --usually responsibilities related to major gifts or corporate or foundation relations. Sometimes Board of Directors are uncomfortable with putting high level fundraising strategies in the hands of a young professional although we may put forth some of the most innovative ideas.  Who was that wise person that said with great risk comes great reward?

Chanta, your Bachelor of Arts degree is in Political Science.  How has your poli-sci background influenced your work as a development professional?   During my first day of Intro to Political Science I learned that “Politics is who gets what, when, how.” (Harold Lasswell) I never forgot those words and I always wanted to ensure that those who needed “got.”  Raising money for a non-profit organization is a real reflection of that principle. Implementing fundraising strategies often require proverbial politicking with donors to meet the needs of our constituency.

You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year.  What are you looking forward to the most as you participate in this program? I am excited to attend the Midwest Conference.  I am a real sponge, so I look forward to all of the learning opportunities that awaits. I have enjoyed all of the morning workshops thus far so I can only imagine how great the conference will be. 

Visit the AFP Chicago Fellows Alumni page for more Fellows news!


Conversation with AFP Chicago Benjamin Franklin Honoree Diane McKeever


Diane McKeever
2015 Honoree and
 Senior Vice President of Philanthropy and Chief Development Officer at Rush University Medical Center talked with AFP Chicago recently about continuous learningmaking connectionsgiving back to the profession, and what it meant to her to receive the Benjamin Franklin honor

Diane, when did you get involved with AFP/AFP Chicago?

I got involved with AFP early on when I joined the profession in the 1980s.  One of the first projects I did with Joan Sunseri was a market analysis of the membership, which resulted in the Chapter developing affinity groups.   I served on the board from 1998 – 2001.  I was one of the founding co-chairs of the annual conference.  I have been involved over the years on a number of committees – awards committee etc.  

Why did you get involved with the Chapter? 

I got involved originally in order to learn more about the profession. I am a firm believer in continuous learning and AFP programs were a wonderful resource.  Learning from our peers and colleagues is invaluable.  I have always found the networking aspect of AFP.  I’ve made lifelong friends from my involvement in AFP.  Everyone is so generous with their time and advice when I call, and in turn we all try to pay it forward.  It’s also very helpful to meet people in the field who might ultimately want to come work at Rush. 

What advice would you give to emerging and mid-career nonprofit development professionals?

My advice to emerging development professionals is to always be open to new ideas and to learn – from conferences, seminars and programs, but also from getting involved in the Chapter.  You make connections that are very helpful for developing your professional knowledge base and skills, and invaluable contacts and friends.  The Chapter is especially valuable for people in smaller shops to get connected with others in the field who can not only share your experiences, but can help problem solve as colleagues. Getting involved in the Chapter is a great way for mid-career people to become leaders in the community for themselves and for their institution.  It’s an important way to give back to this profession which gives so much to us. 

What has it meant to you as the recipient of the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Award?

Receiving the award from my colleagues in AFP Chicago is such an honor.  I do feel that I stand on the shoulders of so many people in our profession, many of whom have received the Ben Franklin Award.  It was an opportunity to reflect on my career and realize that all the little things you do over the years add up and become part of your story.   I saw so many people at the luncheon who I have worked with at Rush, through AFP, from informational interviews I have given over the years etc.  Being with that distinguished group of volunteers and philanthropists on the stage was humbling.    We only succeed as development professionals if we are good partners – with our donors, board members, volunteers and each other.   


Getting to Know 2015 AFP Chicago Fellow Kate Later, Special Events and Communications Manager for High Jump


Kate Later
is the Special Events and Communications Manager for High Jump, an education non-profit celebrating 25 years in Chicago. High Jump provides intensive academic enrichment to middle school students of limited financial means to help them gain admission to college preparatory high schools. Kate manages communications, trustee relations, individual giving, and special events and is a member of the 2015 Class of AFP Chicago Fellows.  Prior to High Jump, Kate worked at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum where she managed their signature fundraiser, the Butterfly Ball, and worked on trustee relations, individual giving, and membership. After college, Kate interned in the education department at Chicago Shakespeare Theater for six months. She has a BA in linguistics and psychology from Smith College. 

Kate, when and how did your interest in development begin? 

I've always been involved with nonprofits — beginning in high school and continuing through college and my early post-graduate career — but I was originally working solely on the program side of things.  Then I realized that I'd been taking for granted the funding that makes programming possible in the first place.  I decided to take a step back to appreciate those behind-the-scenes fundraising efforts and to dive into learning about what goes into the development process.  The more I learned about development, the more I became fascinated with that side of the nonprofit world and I haven’t looked back since!

You have a degree in linguistics and psychology.  How has that helped you as a development professional? 

In a lot of ways, development comes down to being able to read people and forge genuine, mutually productive relationships with them, so my psychology and linguistics background has certainly helped me understand people and what they're looking for in their relationships to nonprofits. It’s also helped me articulate the value of supporting something clearly and effectively.

What do you think is the biggest challenge young development professionals face today? 

I think that young professionals are really facing the same challenge as everyone in the development world, even seasoned professionals, which is the need to navigate the changing landscape of philanthropy.  Millennials tend to give very differently than previous generations, and they want to have a very different relationship with the organizations they support. Development professionals have to constantly reinvent the way they communicate with and relate to potential donors in order to adapt to the ever-changing face of philanthropy.

Kate, you have a lot of professional experience in special events.  Any words of advice or special insights to offer those who may be planning their first gala or major event? 

I love events because they are both a great low-pressure way to introduce potential donors to an organization and a way to let current donors celebrate their involvement and the organization’s successes! I think the keys to a successful event lie in attention to detail and lots of planning!  Every event is different, but even less-experienced planners can pull off a fantastic evening if they're willing to consider and prepare for— well in advance — everything that will happen, everything that might happen, and even everything they can hardly imagine happening. Once the planning is done, you can step back and let everyone shine-- the organization, the mission, and the donors who make it all possible.

You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year.  What are you looking forward to the most as you participate in this program?

I've been fortunate to be able to learn a lot of my fundraising skills on the job.  That being said, I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to now receive some more formal instruction, guidance, and mentorship.  I'm also excited for the chance to be learning and finessing my skills alongside this impressive group of peers.  I'm honored to be selected as a Fellow and I can't wait to continue to develop my network, learn lots, and contribute my ideas and experiences to our discussions over the coming year.

Visit the AFP Chicago Fellows Alumni page for more Fellows news!


Getting to Know 2015 AFP Chicago Fellow Channing Lenert, Development & Operations Manager for Working in the Schools (WITS)

Channing Lenert is Development & Operations Manager for Working in the Schools (WITS), where he is responsible for the management, stewardship, and cultivation of primarily corporate, foundation, and government giving.  He is a member of the 2015 Class of AFP Chicago Fellows.  Channing received an MS in Nonprofit Management, concentrating in Fundraising Management, from the Spertus Institute in 2014 and a BA in Political Science from California State University Channel Islands in 2011.

Channing, when and how did your interest in development begin? 

My interest in development began during my two years with City Year. Throughout their rigorous Basic Training Academy, City Year’s AmeriCorps members are given a comprehensive presentation on how a development department functions within a large national nonprofit. This was fascinating to me, as I had no real knowledge of what ‘development’ was at that point. I certainly wanted to learn more. Later in my first year of service with City Year at a school on Chicago’s West Side, I was able to sit in on a site visit from the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and the McCormick Foundation. I later decided to serve a second year with City Year, on the Civic Engagement Team; the team responsible for working with the development department to plan and implement corporate service projects. Throughout the year, our team was able to complete transformative school beautification projects with companies like Comcast, Barclays, and the Chicago White Sox, to name a few. Having the opportunity to discuss our service and engage with individuals from these organizations provided me with an insight as to just how dynamic the Chicago philanthropic community was. Through these experiences I was able to view firsthand how development can truly build community throughout the sectors, and unites so many to serve a cause greater than self.

Today, working in the development office at WITS continues to excite me. I’m consistently energized because the funds we’re able to raise support programs that promote literacy and inspire a love of learning for thousands of students throughout Chicago.  

You served two terms with Americorps in Chicago prior to joining WITS.  Can you share some personal insights from your Americorps experience?

Like many in my generation, I graduated college in a time of economic uncertainty. As my commencement date became nearer and nearer, I wasn’t sure where life would take me. I kept viewing disheartening news coming from Chicago, regarding the state of youth in the city. I decided I wanted to do whatever I could do to help the situation. I knew of AmeriCorps’ deep commitment to serving those in need so I investigated possibilities within their Illinois portfolio. City Year’s intensive ten month tutoring and mentoring program in high-need schools seemed to be the best avenue for this. In City Year I was placed on a diverse team of seven other 19-24 year old idealists at a school in North Lawndale. At the school I was responsible for mentoring three focus lists of students in attendance, behavior, and course performance (in 6-8th grade social studies). The year of service also afforded me the opportunity to coach wrestling at the school (by far the most fun part of the experience). In my second year with AmeriCorps I was able to get a sense of nonprofit corporate relations, leading service projects at various schools. Using my two Segall Education Awards for my service at City Year, AmeriCorps also provided me the opportunity to continue to pursue my interests in nonprofits by pursuing a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management. Concentrating in Fundraising Management, I was able to participate in in-depth courses on development such as the history/infrastructure of philanthropy, individual/institutional donor cultivation, entrepreneurial/earned income, and grant writing. The program I completed at the Spertus Institute has greatly assisted in my career at WITS, and I have largely AmeriCorps to thank for that.

AmeriCorps helped me to understand the immense challenges that students in Chicago face and how crucial it is for all to be civically engaged. Chicago students continue to inspire me every day. It was during my two years of service that I decided I’d like to dedicate my career to making change in these students’ lives by working for a high-impact organization like WITS, where the resources our team produces can benefit so many CPS students through literacy mentorship.

What do you think is the biggest challenge young development professionals face today? 

As baby boomers retire and millennials continue to enter the workforce, it will be the task of younger development professionals to determine how their generation wants to be asked and segmented philanthropically. Numerous publications have suggested that Generation Y has a high interest in championing causes, and the Wall Street Journal reports that this generation is poised to receive $30 trillion in intergenerational wealth; a promising situation for philanthropy. Social media and the internet will likely play a prominent role. Coming of age during the Great Recession, this generation is also likely a group to show more scrutiny regarding outcomes and where donated dollars are being spent. These are all things my devo team at WITS are currently looking into.

Determining effective stewardship strategies that create a lasting affinity from millennials, the largest generation in American history, towards nonprofit causes will be the biggest challenge facing young development professionals both now and in the foreseeable future.

You’re an AFP Chicago Fellow this year.  What are you looking forward to the most as you participate in this program?

I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in the AFP Chicago Fellows Program! What I’m looking forward to the most is learning from my peers and leaders within the AFP community about their experiences, ideas, and best practices. Fundraising is a unique and rewarding, yet challenging, career. Having so many talented individuals available for advice and mentoring will surely put me in a position to improve upon my professional abilities and continue to grow in the work that I love.  


Congratulations, Carlos Trejo! 

Trejo has been named AFP Chicago's 2015 Chamberlain Scholar. He spoke with AFP Chicago recently about why he's excited about this honor & tells us about his experience as a 2014 Fellow.  

1. When did you get involved with AFP Chicago?

I joined AFP as a member on June 1, 2012. I was a few months into my first fundraising position.

2. Why did you get involved?

I was new in the field and recognized that I could benefit from some external resources and networking to help me grow professionally. I googled “fundraising chicago,” and fortunately for me the first result was AFP Chicago’s website. As soon as I signed up, I registered for a webinar and went to a networking event. After the first educational workshop, I knew I had made the right decision.

3. How has AFP Chicago helped your professional fundraising career?

If I’ve learned anything as a fundraiser, it’s that you always have something new to learn. The programming is always spectacular, but the greatest resource has been the membership of the chapter itself. AFP Chicago is composed of some great people doing wonderful work at a number of diverse organizations. Everyone I have met inspires me to do better, and their support has been outstanding. The wisdom they share always encourages me to try new and exciting things. 

4. Tell us about your experience as a Chicago Fellow...

My experience as a Fellow has been a privilege. The access to events, the opportunity to converse with speakers, and the chance to spend dedicated time with our mentors have all been instrumental in my continuing formation as a fundraiser. As a Fellow, you are placed on a pedestal that allows you to meet new people you may not have otherwise met. I have learned so much this past year from the people around me, and it has made all the difference in my career. I am especially grateful to have met and worked with my fellow Fellows. The opportunity to share and exchange ideas with others who are also in the early stages of their fundraising careers makes the experience that much more fulfilling. We had a great group this year, and I look forward to seeing each of them continue to grow and succeed at what they do.

5. You’ve been named the AFP Chicago's 2015 Chamberlain Scholar. What does that mean to you?

I am beyond honored to be named a Chamberlain Scholar. This chapter is offering me a wonderful opportunity once again, and I am so humbled and grateful. After attending the Midwest Conference on Philanthropy, I knew the International Fundraising Conference was the next step. I look forward to learning new things and meeting new people, all in a setting with fundraising professionals from around the country and world. I am even more excited to bring those experiences back with me to share with my colleagues and friends.


 

Catching Up with New Member K. Zaheerah Sultan, Director of Development, The Lupe Fiasco Foundation

1. When did you get involved with AFP/AFP Chicago?

I am a new member of AFP Chicago, I joined in February 2014.

2. Why did you get involved?

I joined the Membership Committee because I wanted to network with people in my field of choice. I transitioned to a new position at the Lupe Fiasco Foundation. When you work with such a high profile public figure you recognize importance in being connected to skilled professionals. The only way to increase my own “skill set” is to be in the company of people who are learned and mentally sharp. The old cliché of “steal sharpening steal” is still true today.

3. How has AFP Chicago helped your professional fundraising career?

I want to be the best development professional I can be and joining this organization has proven to be one of the best investments I have ever made. I saw the benefits of being a membership of AFP from the time I hit the join button. The online library and educational resources are PHENOMENAL.  

 The first introductory meeting offered information as to how navigate the website and experience the greatest benefits for my investment. One of the instructors was Morgan Henington; she is a true gem at the AFP. She shared information on how to become involved with AFP committees to make an impact on issues I feel strongly about.    

4. Comments on the Midwest Conference; was this your first AFP Conference?

Yes, this was my first conference. My organization development shop is very small and I wondered if I should ask them to pay for the conference. It was such a worthwhile investment! I feel like I have received so much information to add to my toolkit and skillset in development. I’ve had the opportunity to network and with many thought leaders that are friendly and approachable.

5. Any additional information you want to provide about your career and how AFP has impacted it.

I mentioned how I received a benefit when I first joined, my other one of many is, I was interested in receiving my certificate as a  Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), my AFP membership has allowed me to receive professional training for the certification test. This organization is AMAZING!! 


 

Q & A with Stephanie Borash, Associate Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations at  Ravinia Festival, Member of Our Board of Directors and 2014 Midwest Conference Co-Chair

1. When did you get involved with AFP/AFP Chicago?

I have been a member of AFP Chicago since 1997, back when it was called NSFRE.

2. Why did you get involved?

I was new to the career and at a new job at OMNI Youth Services and my supervisor, Mary Feldsein, was the Treasurer on the NSFRE board. She “strongly” suggested I get involved and serve on a committee immediately. It was the best “push” I’ve ever gotten and has been one of the best actions I have taken both professionally and personally.

3. How has AFP Chicago helped your professional fundraising career?

Between the wide variety of educational workshops and programs that are available throughout the year including the AFP Midwest Conference and International Conference and the vast networking opportunities, being involved with AFP truly changed the course of my profession. In addition to the great advice and ideas that I have learned at so many workshops over the years, which has greatly enhanced my professional life, my last two positions - at my current job at Ravinia Festival and WBEZ Chicago Public Radio prior - came through networking, being at the right place at the right time, and being able to call on my AFP contacts to gather additional information.

4. Tell us about the upcoming Midwest Conference.

We are very excited about the upcoming 19th Annual Midwest Conference on Philanthropy coming up on November 5th, which is unlike any we’ve organized in the past. We truly worked to take the conference to a whole new level this year with the theme: Go Big or Go Home: Practice not Theory. This year we have chosen timely topics and notable speakers to lead workshops that are focused on presenting sessions that highlight tangible takeaways and actionable items that each person could do the next day at their office.

For the first time in many years, we are presenting a fabulous Leadership Track with two of the most respected names in the business, Karen Osborne, President of the Osborne Group and Travis Carley, Corporate Vice President of CCS. Recognizing that senior-level fundraisers require a different set of tools as they move up in the field, we’ve designed a track specifically for fundraisers who occupy management positions.

Finally, we have two world class speakers for our Plenary sessions – opening with Adam Braun, best-selling author and Founder and CEO of Pencils of Promise who will recount his inspiring story of a boy, a pencil, and the chance he took early on in his entrepreneurial journey that catalyzed a movement, and closing with Joshua D. Hale, President and CEO of the Big Shoulder’s Fund, which recently broke fundraising records with more than $10.5M raised at its recent Joseph Cardinal Bernadin Humanitarian Award Dinner in May.

5. Advice for budding fundraising professionals?

I really can’t stress this enough – get involved with a committee at AFP Chicago. We are all busy at our jobs and with our personal lives, but it really is worth it to find a little extra time to serve on a committee and give back to the profession. The time commitment is usually not overwhelming and you can make what you want out of it, but it is the best way to meet other committed people in the profession and develop long lasting relationships. 


 

Q & A with Judy Lindsey, CFRE, Vice President of Philanthropy at Chicago Public Media, WBEZ,  Member of our Board of Directors, and Fundamentals of Fundraising Faculty 

1. When did you get involved with AFP/AFP Chicago?
I recently received a letter from AFP International informing me that I’d been a member for more than 25 years, equal to my years as an AFP-Chicago member. It gave me reason to pause and reflect because I just hadn’t realized how long I’d been benefiting from all that AFP has to offer. AFP’s impact on my professional development and career trajectory has been significant.

2. Why did you get involved?
When I entered the profession, I was fortunate to work for a firm where membership in AFP was expected. Most important, active involvement on committees and in other ways was strongly encouraged. Based on that positive experience, as a department head today I advocate for my organization to support AFP membership for my staff.

3. How has AFP Chicago helped your professional fundraising career?
There are multiple ways in which AFP-Chicago has helped my fund raising career; however, a few stand out. Over the years, communicating with colleagues about their organizations certainly broadened my understanding of and appreciation for the many, diverse ways the third sector contributes to the well-being of society. Hearing firsthand about my colleagues’ work to advance their organizations’ missions, and the operational infrastructures needed for such, has been most helpful. Finally, I value the numerous professional and personal friendships that have grown out of my AFP Chicago experience.

4. Tell us about the Fundamentals in Fundraising course...
The Fundamentals in Fundraising Course provides an overview of those core elements that are central to our work. The fundamentals that participants will learn about will inspire more inquiry. The profession is changing so rapidly, none of us should stop learning.

5. Advice for budding fundraising professionals?
Remain true to the missions of the organizations for which they choose to work; learn from disappointments and use those lessons to plan for and reach their next level of success; always remain open to learning; and have fun.


 

June Program panelist, Jennifer Hendrick - When it comes to AFP Chicago..."You never know what connections you can make."

Jennifer Hendrick, Director of Development at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Advocate Charitable Foundation, looks to AFP  to help extend her nonprofit circle and network. 

Hendrick is interested in hearing from peers on topics all nonprofit professionals face in the work world and has found this support through AFP Chicago.

She also praises her employer for encouraging her to get involved. "Advocate Health Care has always supported their employees becoming involved in AFP. Our leaders have served in various roles on AFP and are always encouraging others as well."

Hendrick also believes AFP Chicago always offers new and unique opportunities and always keeps her thinking on her toes. "Change is constant and learning about new tactics and trends has been helpful," she says.

For young professionals pursuing work in the nonprofit sector, Hendrick says to seek out new learning opportunities and network at the various AFP events. "You never know what connections you can make." 


Chris Jabin, 2014 Benjamin Franklin Award Honoree, discusses relationship with the AFP Chicago Community

Christopher Jabin, the recipient of the 2014 Benjamin Franklin award, is also a 20-plus year member of the AFP Chicago chapter. He believes that AFP Chicago provides a great sense of community and camaraderie. In addition to continuing education and professional development opportunities, the network of professionals he has found within AFP has been an important resource and support network throughout his career. 

Jabin became involved in AFP for educational purposes very early in his development career while an Assistant Director of Development at Lyric Opera Chicago. 

"Since I was young and inexperienced, I found the workshops and conferences tremendously informative and helpful in understanding the development process along with specific tools used in the profession," Jabin explained. 

After his initial involvement, Jabin began to meet other professionals both new to the field as well as experienced veterans.  These colleagues provided him a tremendous sense of community, and several of the more senior professionals became important mentors to Jabin. 

Now a senior professional who can inspire others, Jabin's advice to budding young development officers as well as seasoned professionals is still to never forget that our business is about relationships. 

"While we now have extensive resource materials and technical capabilities, nothing can or should ever take the place of personal contact and face-to-face communications.  If we focus on friendraising the fundraising will follow." 


 

2013 Fellow Shares Chicago Chapter Experiences and "WOW" Moments From the 2014 AFP International Conference

By Amy Cheng, 2014 Chamerlain Scholar and AFP Chicago Fellows Alum

I was first introduced to AFP Chicago by my previous supervisor Dan Winter. As a newbie in the field of fundraising he encouraged me to apply for the AFP Fellowship Program.  At first, I was a little apprehensive and anxious if I would fit the culture of AFP coming from a non-fundraising background.

However, that uncertainty was eased when Alex Pope called to congratulate me on being selected as a 2013 AFP Chicago Fellow. During my Fellowship year, I attended numerous education and network events. But what was most valuable was the support of Alex Pope and Judy Lindsey, Co-Chairs AFP Fellows Program.  Even during their hectic schedule, Alex and Judy always provided genuine feedback, words of encouragements, and connected me to their professional network.

AFP Chicago Chapter consists of many welcoming fundraising professionals who are always ready to share their knowledge and expertise. I encourage you to attend AFP’s educational workshops, apply for the Fellows Program, and become an AFP member!

In addition to the many educational and professional resources  available through AFP Chicago, last week I finally had the opportunity to attend AFP International Conference! This was only made possible through the generous AFP Chamberlain Scholarship. Below are a few of the WOW moments that I experienced during my three days at the 2014 AFP International Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

   

Hung out with “AFPeeps” at AFPeeps Nest while eating “Peeps” and learned useful social media tools such as Buffer, Feedburner, HootSuite and how to manage your social media in less than 10 minutes.

        

Marketplace Madness: Numberous sponsors, vendors, and technology firms featured their latest products.  With so many booths, the exhibitors finds creative ways such as oxygen station, caricature artist and free giveaways to attract you to their booth. 

Rio San Antonio River Boat Tour: I enjoyed a relaxing boat tour along San Antonio River Walk. It is lined with numerous hotels, business, and of course delicious restaurants. 

        

Resource Galore: So many books but not enough space in my suitcase. Authors such as Linda Lysakowski, Darian Rodriquez Heyman, Beth Kanter attended book signing event. 

 

Favorite session:  Creating Transformational Corporate Engagement-Lessons from Cultivating a $27.1M Gift. The room was packed. People squatted on the floor and listened attentively on how Tammy Zonker from United Way was able to align their mission with GM on serving the people in Detroit. A corporation who was going through bankruptcy and was quick to say “no” ended up donating $27.1M. Not only did Tammy offer a powerful cultivating story but she provided templates, handouts and questions for us to utilize with our nonprofit organization.  

I look forward attending 2015 AFP International Conference in Baltimore, MD. But in the meantime, I will continue to “Shift the way I think about fundraising!”

 
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