1) Fancy title you have! Tell us about the highlights of your job.
I am the Deputy Director of CARE USA's national major gifts fundraising team. By bringing CARE's top donors to the most impoverished countries, they gain a deeper understanding of the positive impact of their philanthropy. Witnessing firsthand a multi-millionaire's life-changing experience is enriching and inspirational.
2) What are you working on now?
Since the earthquake in Haiti struck, my job has been quite hectic as CARE is one of the leading development organizations there. I have been devoting my time to raising money and awareness for the survivors of this horrible tragedy.
3) What inspired you to pursue a degree in Public Administration?
Interestingly enough, I almost didn't pursue a public administration degree. After receiving my Bachelor's degree in international business, I thought a career with a multi-national corporation was my best choice. But former the Institute President Gard and Dean Glynn Wood identified a passion and desire within me (that I didn't even know I had) to build a career helping others. And, they were right!
4) As a student, did you pursue internships and other professional development opportunities?
I completed a summer-long, unpaid internship as a legislative aid for current U.S. congressman Sam Farr, who then was a California State Assemblymember representing Monterey. Not everyone is in a position to work for free, but internships – paid or not – are critical to gaining experience and putting oneself in front of key decision makers.
5) Tell us about your professional journey - what were the key turning points?
As a federal government immigration analyst and then corporate executive for ten years, youth organizations like Boys and Girls Club, Junior Achievement, and Optimist International invited me to join their boards. These were very rewarding experiences, but I wanted more.
My father always told me, and my time at the Institute affirmed this, that one could do good and do well at the same time. So I followed my heart and became a full-time, professional, non-profit development officer.
6) Do your language skills play a role in your current job?
Spanish and French language skills as well as cross-cultural competence certainly do not make me stand out at a global poverty-fighting NGO like CARE, but they make me a valuable asset to my colleagues and passionate donors.
7) What's one piece of advice you have for students entering your field?
Network. My understanding of the power of networking began that summer as an unpaid intern. I had the opportunity to become acquainted with former Congressman Leon Panetta when he represented Farr at various events. Later as a Presidential Management Fellow, when I looked to do a rotation from my post at the Justice Department, I called Panetta directly and secured a year-long position as a staff member for the Democratic majority of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Budget Committee. I never thought I’d be in a position to be able to pick up the phone and call a congressman to ask for a job…and actually get it.
8) How do you build your own network?
Living in Chicago affords me the opportunity to interact with individuals from elite educational institutions. The faculty at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago have invited me to become a mentor for graduate students interested in international development and humanitarian aid work. It is important for us to give back to the next generation, and rubbing elbows with Mayor Daley of Chicago, Illinois legislators, corporate CEOs, and university presidents participating through this program is fun and helpful to my own work.
9) What is your dream job?
20 years have passed since graduation, but I must admit that I am still wondering what I'm going to do when I grow up! I absolutely love being the voice of the voiceless for an incredible organization like CARE, but I think it’s important for all of us to keep our options open.
10) What would you like to do next?
As long as I’m helping others, I know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to. In a way, I believe that my destiny might be to follow in Sam Farr and Leon Panetta’s footsteps, but I would only go into politics with a self-imposed term limit in order to give others a chance to make a difference, and, of course, to keep my options open yet again...