My Philanthropy Story

I am a recent grad from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. It doesn't feel that recent to me (I graduated one semester early in December 2010), but I'm sure that is relatively recent compared to many of my readers. I earned a BA in Spanish and Anthropology and a minor in Fine Arts (focus in Ceramics). Surprisingly, I never changed my major, which I expected to do at least twice (I can be rather indecisive). I chose Spanish based on the first Spanish teacher I ever had, SeƱora Detrixhe. She was my high school freshman Spanish teacher from Argentina. I don't really know what it was about her, but she made me love Spanish and want to figure out its puzzles. I even traveled to Peru with her one summer on a student trip.
  
 Juana Picchu is in the background. I'm on the far right.

Truly seeing a Spanish-speaking culture for the first time and speaking (well, trying to) with its people only further fueled my desire to unlock the secrets a language can hold about a people's culture. I chose Anthropology based on that trip as well. I remember standing atop Juana Picchu, overlooking Machu Picchu, and thinking that this was the picture of nirvana. I was truly impressed by the civilization that carved out of the mountain the path I'd just hiked for two hours. It was at that moment that I decided I had to learn more about the Inka and other cultures like them. I tacked on my Fine Arts minor as a sort of recess from papers and writing.

Machu Picchu is in the top left corner of this photo. I'm standing atop Juana Picchu.

My love for cultures and Spanish grew across many years and points in my life, but my passion for non-profit came rather suddenly. Actually, my interest in Spanish-speaking cultures is what led me to my first non-profit internship at Children International in Kansas City, MO. I interned here during the first two summers of college in their Program Services department. I had great supervisors and mentors and was even given the opportunity of a lifetime when I was sent to tour two of their Service Area Centers in Honduras during my first summer there. I will never forget that trip and what it taught me.

Just before my final year of college, I was elected the first Vice President of Community Service for my sorority Kappa Delta. I still think that I was elected to this position based mostly on my non-profit-loving reputation. In those final two semesters of undergrad, my enthusiasm for fundraising grew; particularly fundraising that worked directly with corporate sponsorships and negotiation. I see this line of work as a dance between those asking and those being asked. Both have needs and goals to reach through their agreement, and it’s a fascinating exercise for me to figure out how both parties can arrive at an agreeable solution that benefits everyone. I enjoy the psychology behind giving, as well as the science behind “the ask.”

 Roomies and me sporting our philanthropy tee for KD Quesadillas.

After graduation I pursued the non-profit sector for my career. The job market was certainly tough at the time that I graduated, but I persevered. (what else could you do?) Eventually the talented Vice President of Fund Development at The University of Kansas Hospital gave me my first fundraising internship. I worked at the hospital for five months before they could no longer afford to keep me on staff or hire me full-time, so it was back to the job search grind. Luckily, I this time around I had an entire department of colleagues willing to help me find my next job. With their help, I landed my current position as Combined Federal Campaign Manager at the United Way of Greater Kansas City. I honestly enjoy my job and learn more about the science behind fundraising every day.