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Development Leader Spotlight: Tiffany Graham

Each month, the PMA Blog will feature an outstanding nonprofit development professional and learn about their background, career, interests, and aspirations.

This month, the PMA Blog is excited to feature Tiffany Graham in this development leader spotlight. Graham recently accepted the Director of Advancement position at The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. With more than 10 years’ experience in both the corporate and non-profit sectors, Graham joined the Gantt Center after two years of working as the Director of Development, Annual Giving at Tulane University – A.B. Freeman School of Business. During her tenure at Tulane University, she developed and implemented comprehensive strategies for school-wide fundraising initiatives. Prior to that, she spent ten years in retail strategy consulting, where she leveraged key relationships with top executives to drive multi-million dollar business development, supply chain, and process improvement initiatives. Her clients included Gap, Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., and L.L. Bean.

Graham holds both a Bachelor of Science in Industrial & Systems Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from the University of Southern California and a Master of Science in Industrial & Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is the recipient of numerous awards and a member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Tell us about your nonprofit journey. How did you enter the field?

After enjoying ten years in the corporate sector, I started thinking about how I could increase my contribution to the community in a more direct way. My husband was offered a career opportunity in New Orleans in 2008, and we were excited about giving back to the city, post-Hurricane Katrina. I began to think of roles where my consulting and business strategy skill set could be used, and happened upon an opportunity at Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business as Director of Development. I immediately fell in love with the development profession – the ability to combine both business skills and people skills, while improving the communities in which we live. The rest is history!

What do you find most rewarding about the nonprofit field?

At the end of any long workday, I have so much personal fulfillment, knowing that my efforts are directly impacting someone’s life – whether it’s education support for students at Tulane, or providing opportunities for people to experience the arts in a way they never have before, as I will have an opportunity to do at the Gantt Center.

You recently accepted the Director of Advancement position at the Gantt Center. Talk to us about the opportunity and what your role entails.

As Director of Advancement, I will provide strategic leadership in the development of philanthropic relationships throughout the Southeast region in support of the Gantt Center’s programmatic priorities. This fundraising strategy will also include garnering annual support from individuals, corporations, and foundations, as well as special events and membership.

As a newcomer to the Charlotte community, what are your thoughts on the philanthropic scene here?

I believe there is an energy here in Charlotte around philanthropy and the notion of giving back to the community. Almost everyone I meet is in some way involved in community service initiatives, and it’s really refreshing to experience. I’m looking forward to deepening my involvement in the greater Charlotte community.

Any advice to share with emerging development professionals?

Never forget to say two words: thank you. Acknowledging a donor’s past support and following up to ensure that they are keenly aware of the impact of their gift is critical to continuing support.

Don’t miss the Gantt Center’s latest exhibition America I AM: The African American Imprint, which runs through January 1, 2013. This touring exhibition celebrates nearly 500 years of African American contributions to the United States. The Gantt Center is the only African-American cultural institution to host this exhibition and serves as the last venue to house it in the Southeast as the exhibit makes its final tour. Click here for more information.