1. Where are you from originally?
Baltimore, Maryland. I’m a local Northeast Baltimorean. I went to college in High Point, North Carolina to follow my passion for Interior Design, but realized it was a little difficult to find employment with local Interior Design firms in my hometown. I then transferred up here to Baltimore, graduating from Sojourner-Douglass College with a BA in Business Administration and then received my Master’s in Public Administration specializing in nonprofit management from the University of Baltimore. I’ve been in the nonprofit sector for about 18 + years and have experience in fundraising/revenue development, strategic planning, training/development, budget administration and marketing and relationship management.
- What are some of the things you’re responsible for as Assistant Development Director?
My role was a newly created position to provide support to the Director of Development as she is out in the field raising funds. I’m responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Development department. We have a team of seven people, and I’m responsible for making sure the team strategizes in regards to raising funds through foundation, government, and city partners, corporate sponsors and individual donors. In addition, my role requires me to work closely with our finance department to reconcile cash receipts, pledges and provide accurate reports to close out the month.
- Where were you before BOPA?
Before BOPA I served as the Associate Director of Development at House of Ruth Maryland for about two years. Prior to the House of Ruth Maryland, I worked for the United Way of Central Maryland. Throughout my nonprofit experience I fundraised for human services, but now I’m fundraising for the arts, which is so much more relaxing and fun!
- How is that different?
Human services can focus on prevention as well as remediation of problems or specific needs. During my time at the House of Ruth Maryland I fundraised for women and children who were involved in intimate partner violence. As a survivor I wanted to work closely with an organization that I am very passionate about which allowed me to educate individuals on domestic violence. Prior to that I worked for United Way of Central Maryland and our goal was to fight poverty in central Maryland with programs encouraging self-sufficiency. I guided various state and city agencies in their fundraising efforts for the workplace giving campaigns. We were really trying to engage individuals to give back to the community. That was a good and challenging experience for me because it is hard to get people to give through back especially if they felt underpaid. Employees had specific nonprofit organizations that they supported, but the good thing about the United Way campaign it allowed an individual to pick up to five charities to give to at the end of the year and have it deducted from their paycheck. Coming to BOPA, because I’m a Baltimore City resident, I really wanted to help beautify the city, through the murals, the art and the cultural programs that we have in the city. I’ve always been a very strong advocate and participant in all of the festivals and events, but I didn’t have a clue as to what took place behind the scenes here at BOPA. Now I have such huge respect and admiration because I didn’t realize all the small, intricate details that took place.
- Is this the career path you pictured for yourself?
No, I actually studied interior decorating, but when I transferred back I had to find a job to put me through school so I started working in the undergraduate admissions department at Johns Hopkins University. I worked there for a total of 8 years at Hopkins, which in my last 4 years I worked in the graduate admissions department enrolling students. During my time on the campus I decided to help the Black Student Union with one of their events. They needed someone to help them raise money and I found my niche in fundraising. I had the relationships with local businesses and I knew wealthy individuals. Eventually I just stepped out on faith and left Johns Hopkins University. I found a job at the American Red Cross fundraising for Anne Arundel County. I traveled around the United States for national disasters and on occasions I was gone for a month on more depending on the disaster. I actually left the organization right before Katrina, but I was working for the American Red Cross when 9/11 hit. It was really easy to fundraise for the American Red Cross because whenever you have a natural disaster like that, everyone is opening up their wallets.
- What are some of the most challenging parts of raising money for BOPA’s programs? What goals does BOPA have for fundraising annually?
The challenging part is trying to get donors and sponsors to understand our mission and our goal in raising funds, simply because people think of us as a city agency when we are a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. We are currently fundraising a little differently now that we have a new team. We are packaging BOPA as a whole and sharing with our partners everything that we do in regards to events, festivals and cultural programs. We want to make sure each partner understands our need and they are matched up with proper events and programs that aligned with their mission. The development department is responsible for raising 10 million dollars annually.
- What are some of your favorite parts of your job?
I just love the BOPA team. We are very family oriented and very close knit. I love the fact that everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets the work done; we are all hands on deck. You don’t find that in too many organizations. Also, fundraising for BOPA has been so rewarding because I’m actually going out and telling sponsors and donors what it is that BOPA does as a whole because people really don’t have a clue. They think of us as a city agency and we’re trying to change that mentality.
- What do you hope to see BOPA accomplish in the next 5 years?
Creating a strategic plan for our department, because when I came on board the development department did not have a strategic plan. So my goal ultimately is within the next 3 years to have a strategic plan for development department.
- Do you think BOPA will continue to grow?
Oh yeah, definitely. We really have set the bar with Light City Baltimore. Light City showed Baltimore City and BOPA’s potential to generate revenue and increase partnerships nationally and internationally. I think with the new administration under Mayor Catherine Pugh’s leadership she will keep BOPA in the forefront since she is such a strong advocate for the arts and culture.