40 Under 40

Brenna Finnerty

Unitypoint Health Foundation
Des Moines, IA

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

1. Five years ago, Brenna formed the Shining Star Student Philanthropy program at Blank Children’s Hospital, encouraging and providing resources to student philanthropists. In 2018, students raised $54,000 through the program.

2. Brenna co-chaired a capital campaign for Variety - the Children's Charity with a goal of raising $450,000 to build the first ever all-inclusive playground for the city of Des Moines. The campaign went on to raise over $600,000.

3. She is a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute's Community Leadership Program.

4. Brenna has helped lead continued growth of the Festival of Trees & Lights, Blank Children's' annual flagship fundraiser. The event has grown from $500,000 in net revenue in 2015 to over $720,000 net in 2018.

Q & A

1. How did you get into health care philanthropy?

Prior to joining the health system in 2009, I worked in marketing for a local real estate company who began serving as the presenting sponsor for UnityPoint Health’s largest fundraising event. Through this partnership, I formed relationships with the marketing team at UnityPoint Health, fell in love with the organization’s mission and started serving as a volunteer committee member for that same event. 

I was officially “hooked,” and in 2009, I began working in the Marketing Department for UnityPoint. I remained involved in fundraising and volunteering throughout our community, culminating in the co-chairing of a $600,000 volunteer capital campaign to build the first all-inclusive playground for our Metro in memory of a friend. It was after this project I realized I had a passion for fundraising, and I put that passion into action when I joined the Foundation team in 2014.

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

Anyone who knows me would agree I would not make for a great clinician! Serving our care providers who give so much - and inspiring and enabling donors to support this work - is an absolute honor and the best way I know to give to the patients and families we are blessed to serve.  

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

I promise I’m not just saying this, but attending my first AHP International Conference really made a difference for me in my career. I had just taken the leap from marketing to fundraising a few months prior and was definitely evaluating if that pivot was the right decision. It was incredibly reassuring to hear from other professionals who loved their careers and to know there was an entire network of support available. 

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

My first job in high school was working at a daycare center, and I was a server at a restaurant all through college. Though the “client base” might have differed, both taught me to be flexible (always expect the unexpected!), hard work, how to read your audience, the importance of a positive attitude, teamwork, the value of having fun every day, and patience…lots and lots of patience! 

5. What are your future aspirations?

They say “the only thing that’s certain in life is everything changes,” and I think that goes double for health care! As health care and our organization continue to change, I am committed and open to serving in the capacity that utilizes my skills to best benefit our patients, families and the community.  
Brenna Finnerty

Fun Fact:

I try to do or learn something new every year – it’s taken me everywhere from skydiving and sprint triathlons to Spanish lessons and traveling by myself through Europe!