- How did you get into health care philanthropy?
One week after I graduated from college, I started my first job as a public relations intern at a hospital within a large healthcare system. Three weeks after I started, I found the foundation and I never looked back. I was hired as the foundation special events coordinator and remained at that same healthcare foundation for 12 years before joining Accordant Philanthropy in 2015.
- Why did you choose to make health care philanthropy your career?
I love hospitals. I think better when I am in them. I will never forget my first day as a hospital PR intern in June 2004. I walked in at age 22 thinking “who wants to work at a hospital?” and I left thinking “wow, that was pretty amazing.” I will never forget the feelings of compassion and companionship that I felt walking through the halls that first day. Early on in my career, I had the opportunity to assemble a group of physicians to form a committee charged with engaging physicians in philanthropy. It was through this experience working with a group of physician volunteers who were among some of the most generous and incredible people I had ever worked with that I grew to love working with physicians. To this day, working with physicians is my favorite aspect of my job. Additionally, I chose healthcare philanthropy and will never leave it because no matter what is going on in the world, the country, the economy, etc, patients will always be grateful for the care they receive and have a desire to express that gratitude through philanthropy. There is nothing more profound than helping connect grateful patients and inspired physicians and nurses to come together to fund, build or create something transformational within the healthcare organization that will improve the health and wellness of our communities. It’s the greatest job in the world!
- What has been the #1 factor in your career success so far?
By far, my success has been greatly influenced through the seeking out, building relationships with, and learning from incredible mentors, both within, and more importantly, outside of the healthcare philanthropy field. The best piece of advice I have ever received was from one of my mentors who told me many years ago to always be the youngest person in the room; this will ensure that you are always continuously learning. I also believe that a large factor in my success has been through embracing the hospital setting and acquiring a deep understanding for hospital operations and healthcare culture. Learning to navigate a complex medical system as a non-clinical professional can be overwhelming and scary. However, I learned very early on that in order to engage grateful patients - the most likely constituency to give large gifts to healthcare - I first had to build authentic, trusting, mutually beneficial relationships with key internal partners like physicians, nurse leaders and front-line caregiving staff. I was able to build these relationships by getting out of my comfort zone, learning how to round on hospital floors and forcing myself to spend significant time inside the four walls of the hospital. Today as a consultant, one of the first things I do when onsite at a new client organization is to ask the philanthropy staff to take me up to the hospital floors. If they are unable or uncomfortable doing so, I make it a top priority to instill this philosophy and practice into their everyday life.
- What is your greatest passion and why?
My greatest passion is empowering others to be all that they can be, to advocate for themselves and to be unafraid to take some risks. I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t had leaders around me who lifted me up, encouraged me to strive for more and inspired confidence in me to seek out growth opportunities that forced me to step out of my comfort zone and take some risks. Healthcare philanthropy can be the most rewarding job in the world, but it can also be quite challenging at times. I have a deep desire to pay it forward by helping young philanthropy professionals find their way, inspire them to keep going, and to help them succeed in areas of their work that they are passionate about.
- What are your future aspirations?
I want to do so many things! First and foremost, I consider my current role at Accordant Philanthropy my dream job, so I want to maintain in my role, continue to work in healthcare organizations all over the country, continue to learn, grow, innovate and be challenged. I am a continuous learner so I intend to never stop learning at every chance I get. I am so blessed to be able to work with and learn from some incredible leaders in our industry, so I not only hope to continue to learn from them, but I aspire to pay it forward to others by sharing what I’ve learned and be able to inspire future leaders in the way I have been inspired.