Building Connections & Finding Meaning

Isaiah Bryant

On June 29th, the Future in Advancement team hosted a panel of three development officers led by Sean Howard, a former Futures in Advancement intern and current Leadership Giving Officer for Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. The three panelists were:

  • Divine Tabios, Senior Director of Development, School of Arts & Sciences
  • Shelly Horn, Senior Director of Regional Development, California
  • Erin Capone, Director of Development, School of Social Work

Each of these development officers provided their own insightful experience into the world of major gifts. During the discussion, the panelists were able to share their respective professional journeys that ultimately led to their careers in development. With them all coming from varying backgrounds and therefore having different skill sets, it was interesting to learn the ways in which their work was similar yet also different. This not only gave the interns a better understanding of the work that goes into being a development officer, but also the quality of character exhibited by the three panelists.

This group gave first-hand accounts of what makes their experiences so meaningful. They emphasized the importance of communication in their roles as development officers–focusing on building genuine connections with donors over time. Continuous conversations and regular outreach is one of the best ways to effectively connect with donors and match them with areas of need. Each panelist had their own tricks of the trade, but they all had a sense of why they do what they do. None of their work is for naught and because of that they find genuine enjoyment in it.

Additionally, they spoke about combining your passions with your career. Erin Capone mentioned that she was pursuing her doctorate in social work. For her, pursuing a higher degree was about having greater knowledge that she can utilize to advance the work she already does. Her views on community and finding meaning in the work that you do was a powerful reminder to do what you love and pursue your dreams at the same time.

I would like to thank all the panelists who took the time out of their busy schedules to share their experiences with us. I would also like to give a special thanks to Sean Howard for moderating an incredible panel.

Isaiah Bryant is a Futures in Advancement intern with the School of Engineering

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