2019 40 Under 40 Winners

2019 40 Under 40 Logo

Andrea Shepherd, CFRE

CommonSpirit Health - Saint Joseph Health Foundations
Lexington, KY

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

1. Andrea expanded an annual 5K event that was raising $50,000 a year with 250 attendees to $150,000 a year with more than 800 attendees. In 2013, it was voted the best fundraising event in Louisville.

2. Andrea is leading the second largest campaign in the history of the Bardstown, Kentucky community, raising $1.2 million for an expansion of Flaget Memorial Hospital’s Cancer Center and bringing 3D mammography technology to Bardstown.

3. She led a newly created event, Bourbon & Bluegrass Holiday Bash, which has increased event revenue nearly 300 percent and has raised nearly $300,000.

4. Andrea has been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Greater Louisville since 2011, has served on its communications committee since 2013 and recently joined the chapter's Board of Directors.

Q & A

1. How did you get into health care philanthropy?

I lost my dad to colon cancer in 2010 when he was just 57. Through his journey, I learned how prevalent colon cancer is and how incredibly preventable it is. It ignited a passion in me to make a difference. I landed a job as the Executive Director of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, a nonprofit working in Kentucky to stop the disease. Through this role, I saw directly how health care philanthropy saves lives and the difference that donors make. I lost my dad far too soon, but the work I do in his memory helps ensure that others won’t share my story.  

2. Why did you choose to make health care philanthropy your career?

My passion for health care philanthropy was ignited by my dad’s cancer journey, and it has been fueled over the years by the donors I work with. From the 11-year-old who donates his allowance in memory of his grandmother, to the 71-year-old cancer survivor who says raising money for his Cancer Center is his new-found purpose in life, I see up-close that health care philanthropy is healing, beautiful and impactful. 

3. Tell us about a pivot point or crucial step in your career journey.

I honestly don’t know where I’d be without my mentors. I remember having coffee with one of them, choking back tears as I shared that I was ready for a job change, and adding, “I would love to work for you one day.” I lucked out; she hired me and I still work for her. As someone in a field that is known for its burnout and turnover, I am so grateful to have mentors who help me learn, encourage me to challenge myself, allow me to vent, and understand the teeter-totter of work and life. Finding mentors has been crucial to my career. 

4. What was your first job, and what is something it taught you?

My first job post-college was as a journalist at a family-owned newspaper in Durham, North Carolina. I was assigned to cover one of the fastest-growing counties in the country, a place where the long-time residents didn’t love outsiders. As the ultimate outsider, I learned the importance of taking time to form relationships and listen to people. I also learned the power of storytelling, and that’s something I’ve held onto in my fundraising career. 

5. What are your future aspirations?

Here’s what I’ve learned about this career in the last eight years: Fundraising can take you on unexpected paths, and as long as it’s a cause I’m passionate about and has an impact on my community, it’s where I want to be. That’s my simple but true hope for the future, to still be working for a cause I care about. 
Andrea Shepherd

Fun Fact:

I always wanted to be a dancer but was far too clumsy. When I was a newspaper reporter, I volunteered to write a first-person column about dancing in a children’s performance of The Nutcracker. The piece guaranteed me a slot in the party scene of the ballet with other adults, and we performed it for hundreds of people at one of the largest theaters in town. I’m no ballerina, and I definitely missed a few steps, but it sure was fun to pretend.