Member Spotlight – Chris Donovan

Chris Donovan - Photo

Chris Donovan

Development Director, Cristo Rey Columbus High School


Q:        Tell us a little about your organization. Mission? Population you serve? What do you like most about working there?

A:        Founded in 2013, CRC was the 26th school to join a national network of 32 schools. At Cristo Rey schools students who generally lack access to high-quality education receive both a college preparatory experience and real work experience. Our students fund part of the cost of their education by working in professional jobs at local businesses. This model exposes students to professional careers and mentors, which are critical components of their education since the majority of our students will be first-generation college students.

Our student body is diverse geographically, religiously, and racially/ethnically. They come from throughout central Ohio, and from a variety of faith backgrounds.

The best part of working at Cristo Rey is the community. Being surrounded by 50+ intelligent, funny, dedicated colleagues is a blast. I love interacting with the students and watching them grow from timid freshmen to confident, capable seniors. It’s an honor to help them grow up.


Q:           Do you have any events coming up? Tell us about them!

A:            Yes! Our annual fundraiser, The Garden Party, will be held on Saturday, September 10. It’s a great chance to see the school, meet our students, and enjoy the beautiful Topiary Garden next door. Visit for more information.


Q:        How long have you been an AFP member, and what has your involvement been?

A:            I joined AFP in 2013 at the urging of my fabulous then-colleague, Jessica (Gelin) Grisez. As for involvement, I’ve really appreciated the monthly programs and the affinity groups. Last year, I joined the mentoring program, but I changed jobs and my mentor left Columbus. Even in the few months that we were together, I learned a lot.


Q:        What do you consider the most valuable part of your AFP membership?

A:            Easy answer: The relationships. I’ve met so many people through AFP. When I made a job transition in 2015, this community supported me so much. A small shop like Cristo Rey has a different set of opportunities and challenges than a large environment like Ohio State. Reaching out to my AFP colleagues for advice made the transition much smoother than I anticipated. This group definitely inspired me to keep paying it forward as I continue in my career. 


Q:        How long have you been in fundraising, and how did you get into it?    

A:            I joined the profession about five years ago. Like many of us, I stumbled into fundraising and found a great home here. I worked in nonprofits for years before returning to law school, where I started fundraising with a small organization and loved it. After spending a summer interning in the Development office of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, I was hooked. Fundraising uses the skills of problem-solving, persuasion, creativity, and strategic thinking, which are some of the passions that led me to law in the first place. Fortunately I found great mentors who understood both law and fundraising very early in my career, and they helped guide my path.


Q:        What is your favorite part about living/working in Columbus? Favorite Restaurant?

A:            The city is so accessible. After living near huge cities for most of my life, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the size of Columbus. It’s big enough that there’s always something new to discover, but small enough that you can get your arms around it.

My favorite restaurant? After a few weeks packed with professional dinners, I wanted something low-key where I didn’t have to be “on” professionally, and I stumbled upon Hounddog’s in Clintonville. It’s still my favorite place for a no-frills dinner.


Q:        Tell us a fun fact about you that other AFP members wouldn’t know.

A:            I’ve lived in three South American countries – Chile, Peru, and Ecuador.


Posted August 2016