1. How did you get into healthcare philanthropy?
Quite unexpectedly, but with a specific purpose. I heard about the opportunity through a family friend (who is a board member for the foundation) and at that time I was teaching French at Wichita State University (WSU). I had just lost my father, and I had no idea what it would look like to be a director of a foundation. However, I was inspired to say yes to an interview (and the job) as a result of the great care given to my father by many individuals, including Georgia Harjo, CNA, and Dr. Bryan Dennett. As a patient, my father was treated with dignity and respect, so to me it was worth the leap to take the job and give back to the hospital in my own way. I thought if I could make a positive impact at the hospital through the foundation, then I will have done something.
2. Why did you choose to make healthcare philanthropy your career?
The first couple of years were difficult, but I kept on going back to the idea of my job hopefully making a positive impact for our critical access community hospital, and to repay some of the caregivers. It became more of a career when I got to see first-hand the magic with donors: to see how passionate they are about providing access to healthcare in our community, and how generous they are in giving back in their own way. It is a privilege and an honor to work with generous philanthropic people who care about our community. Many of our donors were born here, had their children here, had patient experiences here (personally or one of their family members or friends); somehow they have some kind of connection to William Newton Hospital (WNH), so that assists in creating a ‘family feel’ here.
3. Tell us about a pivot point or crucial step in your career journey.
The pivot point for me was when we started the campaign. WNH chose to work with Rogge + Associates, and Thad Henry was our ‘boots on the ground’ consultant that came to visit us most. His philosophy about philanthropy and about raising money completely and utterly changed not only my idea of "fundraising," but our donor base’s idea as well. He became a voice of hope and transformed the idea of fundraising and philanthropy—respectively—from just “give me your money for a project” to “I believe in this so much that I want to be a part of it.” This shift in perspective caused the job to become more of a calling. Everyone wants to make a difference, big or small; it is my job to ask the right questions to a donor and listen, so that they can help in the way they want to.
4. What was your first job, and what is something it taught you?
Aside from babysitting, my first job was as a hostess at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in Fort Worth, TX. But my first job after graduating college and grad school was working as a Junior Specialist/Assistant Vice President at Christie’s in New York City. I learned quite a bit just living in the city in general, but especially the idea of not ever thinking you know who someone is when they walk in the door. Working at an auction house also allowed me to work with people that were going through one of the ‘three D’s’: Divorce, Death, and Debt. You were dealing not only with their money but their emotions. I do feel like this experience with the auction house clients helped prepare me for working with donors and donations of any size, small or large.
5. What are your future aspirations?
I would like to continue working here at William Newton Hospital, and hope to see the 10-year campaign through, helping to make a positive and lasting impact. In addition to my full-time job, I would also like to become a yoga teacher for fun.
Find Annika on LinkedIn.