Director of Development
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra
Years in current position: 3
Years in the field: 21
Marketing, after starting out as a Music Education major
Non-Profit Management Certificate, University of Texas-Austin
Fundraising Management Certificate, University of Texas-Austin
Neighborhood Chairman (volunteer), USA Girl Scouts, Kaiserslautern (Germany) Special Events Planner, National MS Society/Greater Carolinas Chapter
Development Associate, Arthritis Foundation/Greater Washington, D.C. Chapter
Special Events (volunteer), Fort Hood Officers’ Wives’ Club
Managing Director, Fairfax Choral Society
Director of Development, Vive Les Arts Theatre/Killeen, Texas
Adjunct Faculty, University of South Florida Professional Development School
What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
One of the most surprising and interesting aspects is the breadth of support for the arts through individuals, corporations, and foundations. The challenge lies in the research for funders and, in many cases, the introduction of an orchestra as a non-profit, professional organization to funders. There is never a dull moment!
What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
When I worked for the Fairfax Choral Society, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra was down the hall from us in the same building. Having grown up in Northern Virginia and having been an active music student through high school, I was always aware that the Fairfax Symphony was at the cornerstone of the arts in the area. After leaving the Fairfax Choral Society for Texas, I vowed that I would find a way to work for the FSO if and when we returned to Virginia—and the opportunity presented itself at the perfect time both for me professionally and for the organization, as it almost shut down right after I was hired due to a tremendous deficit.
What were the first steps in your development career?
When I began my “working” career, I was a military spouse with two small children, living in an American military community in Germany. One of my friends asked me to take on the position of running the Girl Scouts program. After completing two years in that job, I realized that people must get paid to do similar work, as I was responsible for more than 100 children and more than 50 adult volunteers, with a $60,000 budget. This led me into the development and special-events field in non-profits when I came back to the United States. I wouldn’t change anything in my early years, as I believe starting as a volunteer—and continuing to hold volunteer positions both in my military and civilian communities—has given me a solid base on which to launch and develop my career. The fact that I have come full circle in the last seven years, returning to work in non-profit arts organizations, is simply the icing on the cake!
What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra field?
Go to the League National Conference; volunteer for mentoring circles; join the League’s listserv for your speciality—talk to people and learn from those who have been in the field for awhile. Take certificate classes if you don’t have the time or resources to take a master’s program; learn about non-profit management as a field, not just in the orchestra or arts world.