40 Under 40

Emily Parris Sandler

City of Hope
Duarte, CA

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

1. Emily built and expanded the “ourHope” peer-to-peer fundraising program. In 2014, the program raised $200,000 from 1,258 donors. By 2018, it generated $1.45 million from 6,356 donors.

2. In 2016, Emily co-led the first #GivingTuesday campaign for City of Hope, raising over $50,000. By 2019, this campaign was an integrated effort across channels, including direct mail, mobile, digital and phone, bringing in over $500,000.

3. This past year Emily created a major gift fundraising strategy for #GivingTuesday, resulting in multiple gifts over $25,000, including one $100,000 gift.

4. Emily volunteers with Special Olympics Southern California, the National Association of Cancer Center Development Officers and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Q & A

1. How did you get into health care philanthropy?

My niece is the reason I joined City of Hope in 2013. As a child, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and it was a tough adjustment for her. So when the opportunity to join City of Hope arose – the pioneer researchers who led to the development of synthetic human insulin – I knew I needed to be part of it. I'm proud to be on the team leading the way towards a cure for diabetes. My niece is now a high school senior, healthy, happy, and planning on a pursuing a career in health care.       

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

I always say that I have one of the best jobs. Working in philanthropy is such a privilege. Many of our donors lost a loved one to cancer, or went through cancer treatment themselves. City of Hope's mission isn't just words, it's personal. They care deeply because they don't want another person to go through what they experienced. They are personally committed. So much so, that they're willing to part with their hard-earned money and valuable time to make a future without disease a reality. It's incredible how people can turn pain, trauma, and grief into something so beautiful. I truly believe that generosity is the best of humanity. As fundraisers, we get to see the very best of humans everyday. It's why I love what I do.      

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

In 2018, City of Hope's Office of Philathropy leadership gave me the opportunity to work with an executive coach. This was a transformative step in my career. It allowed me to take a step back and look at my trajectory as a leader. Working with a coach helped change my perspective on my role as a manager, how I go about my work, and growing through feedback. It's injected much needed strategy in my day-to-day interactions, now with tactical frameworks for how I approach conversations, meetings, and team building. I know myself so much better than I did a few years ago. Through engaging with a coach, I feel that I now have the tools to continue my growth as a leader in thoughtful, strategic ways. 

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

In high school, I thought I wanted to go into fashion and took an internship with Nordstrom. The first thing Nordstrom teaches you is their customer service philosophy. At Nordstrom, customer experience is in the details. For example, if you walk into Nordstrom looking for a particular product, the sales associate doesn't point to the area, they personally walk you to the item. The personal touch goes a long way. Although I quickly discarded the idea of becoming a fashion buyer, these customer service lessons stuck with me 15 years later. When I was at an event on our hospital campus a few months ago, an attendee asked me where he could get some coffee. Without thinking, I volunteered to walk him over to the next building with the closest café. My early customer service training with Nordstrom has created habits that influence my interactions with donors, volunteers, and patients today.      

5. What are your future aspirations?

I see my future as a national leader in philanthropy. I know that I want to keep building – my passion lies in building and scaling new programs. One of the reasons I love digital fundraising is because our online world is always changing. I constantly have new digital experiments, campaigns, and programs to build. But my experience with strategy and change management means that I can go far beyond digital. I see myself growing through positions where I can leverage my builder mentality, ranging from capital campaigns, to standing up new fundraising verticals, launching new initiatives, and beyond. I'm incurably curious and will continue looking for growth opportunities that our sector hasn't explored yet.          
Emily Parris Sandler

Fun Fact:

I love to travel. I love cheese. Anytime I can put those two things together I am happy as a clam.