My passion for philanthropy began long before I ever knew of the word or heard of the practice and study of the behavior, human urge or act. It is a Greek word that means “love of man,” and I distill that to mean simply “love.” Students and practitioners of philanthropy talk about the act as the way we give “time, talent and treasure” to others. It is, at its core, an act of the heart. Even as fundraising has become professionalized and the role of nonprofit organizations is understood as a fundamental component of our economy and society, philanthropy is still born of the uniquely human function of empathy. The capacity to walk in other people’s shoes, feel their pain, understand their needs and practice compassion and assistance not only heals others but is fundamental to our health. As one scholar of philanthropy famously explained, if empathy weren’t necessary to human life, it would be extinct by now. I am passionate about why we choose to assist, what environmental and physical barriers disrupt empathy, and how the process of giving and receiving is the building block of human culture.
I have always been an avid reader and writer, and it led me to a career in libraries. Although my dream was to one day be a librarian, I found my passion raising awareness and funding for libraries. I have also dabbled in other areas of the nonprofit sector including healthcare, conservation and cultural organizations. As a nonprofit consultant I am most interested in the role of information in organizations. How do we communicate and send the message about our mission to stakeholders and potential donors, and how does the modern proliferation of information impact empathy? Nonprofits must find a way to rise above the overwhelming amount of information, properly leverage current modes of communication and bring authority to the messaging that information users encounter in order to deliver on their mission and positively impact their communities and clients.
I am also a creative writer and have several manuscripts at different stages of the writing process. Go to my publication page for information on my latest professional publication available for purchase and synopsis of other works in progress. In my creative writing, I mostly write about Mississippi, which is my home (and a fertile ground for story-telling that sprung William Faulkner and Eudora Welty). I feel fortunate to have grown up in a culture that celebrates writers above all other professions. I don’t think you can be from Mississippi and not dream of writing the next great American novel!
I have a BA and MA in English Literature and am a doctoral student in Philanthropic Studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.