1. How did you get into healthcare philanthropy?
I spent the first 13 years of my career working in higher education fundraising when I was approached with an opportunity to help “make life better for children” at Children’s Health. At the time, I knew almost nothing about raising money for a healthcare system, but with two young children of my own, my heart has always broken for the families of children dealing with illness or injury. I felt called to change industries and feel incredibly blessed to be fundraising for mental health initiatives, clinical research and child life programs now.
2. Why did you choose to make healthcare philanthropy your career?
I recently heard the author, Brad Montague, who has been described as the 21st century Mr. Rogers, say that the biggest calling in life is to help the smallest among us. I have a deep desire to advocate for children and support their families. Working in pediatric healthcare philanthropy has allowed me to marry that passion with my skills and experience in annual giving. I wake up every day excited to get to work and make a difference for the families that walk through the doors of a Children’s Health facility.
3. Tell us about a pivot point or crucial step in your career journey.
Shortly after I joined the annual giving team at Texas Christian University in 2010, I was given the opportunity to attend a conference about student and young alumni fundraising programs. I returned from the conference full of ideas about starting a campus philanthropy program. With the full support of my supervisor, I created a proposal and pitched it to leadership. After a couple of years advocating for it, I was given a budget and another FTE to launch the program, which won Council for Advancement and Support in Education (CASE) Gold Awards in the categories of Annual Giving Program and Best Practices in Fundraising in 2014. I would never have been able to launch such a successful program without the support of my supervisor who invested in my professional development and championed my ideas. Her encouragement has left a lasting impact on me and is something I strive to emulate with my team.
4. What was your first job, and what is something it taught you?
I have a BFA in Theatrical Production Arts and spent my undergraduate career working as a prop artisan at various theaters in New York and New Jersey. While my professional calling took me away from the theater shortly after graduation, I learned two incredible lessons from theatrical production that I carry with me to this day. The first is the importance of collaboration (productions often take the combined effort of 150 – 200 people to execute properly) and the second is the importance of meeting a deadline (you don’t have the luxury of moving opening night because a wall hasn’t been painted).
5. What are your future aspirations?
While nonprofit management programs are starting to appear at colleges and universities across the country, I still find that the majority of young adults entering the industry don’t have significant experience in nonprofit fundraising. I love to mentor these young fundraising professionals; I enjoy sharing what I have learned over the years with them and helping them develop their skills for the benefit of their institutions and foundations. In addition to continuing to advance the mission of Children’s Health, I hope to be able to help as many young fundraising professionals grow in their careers in this field as possible.
Find Harmonie on LinkedIn.