40 Under 40

Jenna Watson

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, TN

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

  1. Jenna raises over $3 million annually through digital and direct marketing programs and grows the programs she oversees by over 4% each year.
  2. Jenna created and implemented her organization’s first annual Donor Impact Report, a multi-channel stewardship piece raising over $90,000 in its first year.
  3. She serves as the treasurer on the board of directors for the Junior League of Nashville. She recently won the Outstanding Member of the year award in part for her service growing the Annual Fund by 38%.
  4. Jenna was one of Nashville’s 30 under 30 and raised over $2,500 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Q & A

  1. How did you get into health care philanthropy?

    I first found my passion for health care philanthropy in college when I served on the Executive Board of my university’s Dance Marathon and as the Philanthropy Chair for my sorority, Phi Mu. In both roles, I fundraised for my local Children’s Miracle Network hospital and had the opportunity to meet countless families and patients whose lives had been greatly improved (and often saved) from care funded by philanthropy. I loved raising money and awareness for hospitals but had no idea that it could be a career.

    After a few years in the corporate world, I came across a job posting at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. As I read it, I was amazed that the posting was seeking my skillset and required similar responsibilities to the role I was currently doing at my corporate job. Learning that my corporate skills transferred to fundraising, I jumped at the chance to align my experience with a mission that meant so much to me. I now continue to serve my local CMN hospital along with Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s other entities here in Nashville.

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

    Seeing firsthand how fundraising dollars directly impact health improvement inspired me to devote my career to this worthy cause. Without philanthropic funds, my organization would not be able to provide the same level of cutting-edge research and life-saving patient care. Philanthropy bridges the gap between our current state and what is possible in the future. It is exciting to dream big and work toward improving health, a cornerstone in quality of life. A career in health care philanthropy has been exceedingly rewarding because I know that I am doing my part to help save lives and improve our community.

  3. What has been the #1 factor in your career success so far?

    The whole development team at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has been the #1 factor in my career success. I am fortunate to be surrounded by stellar mentors, visionary leaders, and talented friends who all work hard to make a difference for the people and communities we serve. We have a special culture and I would not be where I am without my team.

  4. What is your greatest passion and why?

    Aside from health care philanthropy, my greatest passion is servant leadership in the form of helping others realize their potential and achieve their goals. I have found nothing more rewarding than empowering and developing others while working alongside them to make a difference in the world.

  5. What are your future aspirations?
  6. Growing in my career in health care philanthropy, leading my team and organization to exponentially higher fundraising levels, and serving the community remain my primary goals. I aspire to keep a growth mindset and continue to improve every day to make this happen. I also would love to live abroad at some point.  

Jenna Watson

Fun Fact:

Je parle fran├žais.