Q: Tell us a little about your organization. Mission? Population you serve? What do you like most about working there?
A: United Schools Network’s mission is to prepare all students to achieve academic excellence and become citizens of integrity. United Schools Network schools do more than close the achievement gap for low income and high need students. They open their minds to learning – with discipline and mutual respect – and give students the life skills to gain entrance, gain success and gain a degree from the most demanding high schools and colleges. We serve elementary and middle school students from Columbus’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods in our buildings, but also follow them through high school and college with our Alumni Services program. Soon we will launch our social enterprise, School Performance Institute which will train and provide services to urban education leaders and teachers across the city and country, raising the education bar in hopes that all students will have access to excellent education. I’m most inspired when I see our students grow into young men and women who live their lives with composure, ambition, and a love for learning. Our oldest alumni are now freshmen in college and are amazing!
Q: How long have you been an AFP member, and what has your involvement been?
A: I’ve been a member for 3 years. In that time I’ve served on the National Philanthropy Day (“NPD”) committee helping with public outreach surrounding the event; I was fortunate enough to receive an highly beneficial scholarship to the International Conference in San Antonio; I have a mentor who is still impacting my life in great ways long after the official mentorship was over; and have had the privilege to serve on the board as VP of Communications both last year and this current year.
Q: What do you consider the most valuable part of your AFP membership?
A: Without AFP, I would not have firsthand access to quality, tested fundraising practices. Yes, I can gain some valuable information from books or webinars, but working on committees with professionals, talking through the practical issues we face in our offices, having a mentor and colleagues, sharing recommended reading, debriefing after luncheons and speakers, all give me a personal library of experiences and resources that I can pull from to benefit USN and, ultimately, our scholars.
Q: How long have you been in fundraising, and how did you get into it?
A: As so many have, I “fell into” fundraising. Although I had a career of my own, I began by volunteering to help start USN’s first school, Columbus Collegiate Academy. It involved market research, prolific grant writing, some special events support, and helping with annual appeals. Initially I took on tasks just to help our founding team but then I, very much, “fell into love” with the process, and seeing what the results of that work can have in our community! Thank goodness AFP was there to help me hone my skills as a professional. We’ve grown from 1 to 3 schools…soon to be 4…and serving over 630 students. Every dollar raised is a victory for scholars who deserve the opportunity to have a great education; it’s very gratifying.
Q: What is your favorite part about living/working in Columbus? Favorite restaurant?
A: Columbus is such a friendly city – from strangers at the grocery store, drivers on the highway, to most professionals I meet. It was a shock when I moved here, but I’ve found it is something that I value and share about Columbus often. Picnic with the Pops is a fav that I look forward to every year. Restaurants? It is a three way tie between Basi Italia, M, and Indian Oven. Ooh…and The Tavern in Olde Town East. Did I forget to mention that I love Cbus for being a foodie haven?
Q: Tell us a fun fact about you that other AFP members wouldn’t know.
A: If the genealogy experts in my family are correct, I’m an 11th generation descendant of Pocahontas.
Posted: March 2016