Texas Mamma Jamma Ride
- Number of Years as Executive Director
I became ED in March, 2016 so 16 months. Prior to becoming ED, I was a member of the Board of Directors and had been a rider for 3 years (2013-15).
What does your organization do?
The Texas Mamma Jamma Ride is an annual bike event that raises funds for local programs and services for breast cancer fighters and survivors in Central Texas. The 9th Annual Texas Mamma Jamma Ride will be held on Saturday, September 23, 2017 in Martindale, TX.
How did you become interested in this work?
I am a career fundraising professional with 25 years of experience in higher education, healthcare, and human services. I wanted to be the Mamma Jamma ED job after the consultant who did an organizational assessment for us in Dec. 2015 recommended that our next executive director be a professional fundraiser. I knew then that being Mamma Jamma ED was my destiny. It has been an incredible opportunity to combine my personal passion with my professional expertise.
What drives your passion?
In many ways I am the quintessential Mamma Jamma. I am a two time breast cancer survivor and I got involved with Mamma Jamma beneficiary Team Survivor to build up my fitness level after second go round of surgery and treatment. It was through Team Survivor that I learned about Mamma Jamma. I was terrified of riding a bike but figured after fighting off cancer twice, I could overcome my fear and do the Mamma Jamma ride. With the help of the Mamma Jamma training ride program, I was able to ramp up cautiously and steadily and in Sept 2013 rode 25 miles. It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment and I was hooked. From then on Mamma Jamma has been my number one personal cause and passion.
Did you have a mentor or a role model?
Over the course of my career I have had the good fortune of being part of some really great teams, some not so great teams, and having many role models along the way. What has emerged for me as the most important aspect of leadership exhibited by the role models I most admire is what I call “view from the top.” It was most profound during Hurricane Katrina when I was part of the senior team at a community hospital in New Orleans and on site during and after the storm. Our CEO believed, as did we as a management team, that we were absolutely going to safely and successfully evacuate our patients and that we would “make it.” And that is exactly what happened. At a hospital near us, with nearly identical number of patients and conditions, the CEO was reported to have expressed serious doubt that all but a very few would survive. And tragically that is how things played out there. As executive director of Texas Mamma Jamma Ride, I believe that we are going to grow our ride into a powerful and important sustainable funding source for organizations serving the breast cancer community. I never doubt that, and I believe that my unwavering “view from the top” will help ensure that we will get there.
What's the biggest challenge in your work?
My daily commute self talk is reminding myself to use my time and energy on the things that move the needle most for the organization and not getting lost in the small details that don’t have long term impact. My mom raised me to be a super hero so it is hard for me to ask for help….but I am learning!
What's the best advice that you have ever received?
There are several truisms about fundraising that have guided me in my career. First and foremost is that a fundraiser should be the first donor to the cause. You can’t ask with integrity if you don’t give, and give at a meaningful level. I always remember too that it takes three “no’s” to get a “yes” and that “no” just means “not now.” And lastly, by far the best training for being a nonprofit executive is to serve on a nonprofit board.
What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?
Fundraising is an executive director’s most important job – you can delegate and hire out the rest, but as ED your number one responsibility is to generate resources to support and grow the organization
Without fail, call (not text or email) three donors every day.
Treat everyone as if they were your largest donor. “Everyone” means everyone at every level in the organization and everyone you encounter outside the organization.