So, tell us a little about yourself. Where do you live and what do you do?
I’ve lived in Winchester, VA for 11 years, but grew up in Max Meadows, VA, a small town in southwest Virginia. I’m a Director of Development and Major Gifts Officer for Valley Health System and the Winchester Medical Center Foundation, raising funds to support healthcare in our community.
I’m sure there are many things important to you in life. What do you care most about outside of typical things like family?
My greatest priority is making a difference. Whether it’s through my work or with my family, it boils down to a very simple mantra. Giving purpose to every action brings me happiness and sanity and a sense of reward in the memories created. A job in philanthropy is inherently intent on making a difference, which is why I’ve pursued that profession for over 15 years.
How do you feel you pursue those things in your life and career?
Personally, I love to garden and am addicted to poultry. Raising our food gives great purpose to the work, not to mention great memories with our children and a healthy, tasty reward. Whether it’s making time to cook with the kids, sweating over our garden or feeding blueberries to our chickens, those memories we make I’ll look back on and cherish.
I love my career in philanthropy – making a difference is what we do. Having the privilege to connect with like-minded people over a common cause, and then put their generosity into action; there are no words to describe how amazing it is. I move forward by finding new ways to connect with people who care about healthcare through networking events and sharing our story with whoever will listen. I’ve found the best way to connect is starting with a simple thank you.
Can you tell us a specific story about a challenge you encountered and how you overcame it?
One of my greatest challenges was when my spouse deployed just months after 9/11. Being left alone with our 2 year old daughter, 20 hours from family less than a year after we moved to Fort Hood was incredibly daunting. I was fortunate to have a job that I loved in a Cancer Center and had an amazing tribe of Army wives and soldiers for support. To get through, I tried to keep my focus on the good – the wonderful work being done in our Cancer Center and prioritizing quality time with our daughter and our friends.
I met with a psychologist once a month just to chat, to keep things in perspective. She helped me acknowledge that it was OK to feel overwhelmed – it was an overwhelming situation – and that acting intentionally every day to make things better would actually work. Guess what, it did! I was able to let myself feel sad, but not stay there, and to really feel joy, despite missing an important part of our family immensely. I went to school on the weekends with a friend just to learn something fun (massage therapy) and got some much needed grownup girl time and enjoyed free massages!
If you were only asked to give one success tip to help other women succeed what would it be?
Be empathetic. No matter your job, empathizing with others will establish stronger connections and help you grow personally. Acknowledging others and meeting them “where they are” is always a great start to any relationship and will always move it forward.
Are there any resources of your own that you would like to share with us?
For anyone who serves a nonprofit, whether professionally or as a volunteer, I love Amy Eisenstein. Amy’s blog always has inspiring stories and tips for philanthropy, always reminding us to keep the donor at the center of everything
Book: Fearless by Max Lucado
Vines – yes, the silly 6 second looped videos. It’s easy to get wrapped in seriousness and changing the world all the time. It’s important to remember to be silly and laugh with your whole belly on a regular basis! (really, who doesn’t want a cute kitten sneezing into a bowl of milk at the end of every day)