How did you get into health care philanthropy?
I did not grow up wanting to be a fund raiser. I did however, grow up wanting to be in healthcare one day, but as a physician.
It all began when I was laid off from a successful career in pharmaceutical sales. My husband, Will, was also in the industry and had been for years. We determined it wasn’t smart for us both to continue in an industry that was evolving with such uncertainty as access to physicians was diminishing. We were living in Atlanta and were looking to move closer to family back in my hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida.
My mom, a nurse for over 30 years at Bayfront Medical Center, sent me the job posting for a Major Gifts Officer position within the Bayfront Health Foundation. To be honest, I didn’t even know what it was. I read the job description and still was confused, “soliciting donors for major gifts,” didn’t make sense. I called my mom for clarity.
After that call, I had a better understanding of what a Major Gifts Officer was, however, I didn’t know if I would be successful. It was my family who challenged me to apply. They reminded me that I already had the skills needed. With my sales background I knew the importance of a good relationship and wasn’t afraid to ask anyone for anything. I also had the opportunity to grow up within the walls of Bayfront Medical Center and was passionate about the services they provided to the under-served and the community.
I went to St. Pete to interview and ultimately was offered the job. Emily Benham, the vice president, and her team took a chance on me as they saw the passion I had for Bayfront and my transferable skills.
Fortunately, Will was able to change territories within his company and we moved. We determined that I would try out fundraising for six months and then decide if it was “for me”.
It didn’t take six months to realize it was meant for me. I loved it, I loved going to work, helping others and learning the industry. I loved coming home and talking about my day. It was an obvious change of pace and it took me several months to understand that fundraising wasn’t transactional like sales, rather transformational for my organization, the donors, the patients and their families. Because of sales I think I have a stronger appreciation of the deadlines and responsibility behind asking for the major gifts and hitting our fiscal year goals.
I always thought my career path would keep me at Bayfront. However, in 2013 the hospital was purchased by a for-profit company. While out on maternity leave with my daughter, I got the call that Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital was looking for a campaign manager. I jumped at the opportunity to work for an amazing organization and eventually made my way back to major gifts.
Eventually I would like to work my way into leadership and aspire to be a Chief Development Officer. I have been mentored by great leaders and I would love to follow in their footsteps. Personally, I aspire to be the best wife to Will and mom to Sally Claire, never losing sight of the most important things in my life. I hope I will always aspire to be the best me.