8 Ways ADRP Colleagues Cultivate a Culture of Care

Our recent social media contest turned up so many wonderful ways that our colleagues exemplify this year’s conference theme. Below are eight quotes from the contest, matched with a Care Bear that embodies its spirit.
Harmony Bear 
I especially love this year's theme to cultivate a culture of care. I try to cultivate a culture of care by developing relationships across my organization built on trust and empathy. - Chelsea Poch, JDRF International
True Heart Bear  
I help create a culture of care by being empathetic, giving myself and others grace, and being transparent. - Kiara Hunter, University of North Texas
Cheer Bear 
I cultivate a culture of care with the motto Be Kind! I am always available to help my colleagues and others. - Mary Kate Sandler, Roger Williams University
Always There Bear 
I work to cultivate a culture of care by letting students at my university know they can always come to me with scholarship questions. I also try to be a great team player among colleagues. -April Marciszewski, Oklahoma City University
Take Care Bear 
University of Alaska Anchorage cultivates a culture of care by putting students first in all that we do to ensure they’re set up for success once they leave our doors for the last time. We also create a culture of equity and inclusion by embracing our diversity. - Becca Brado, University of Alaska Anchorage
All My Heart Bear  
To me, a culture of care is about creating authentic relationships with colleagues, donors and other stakeholders. I cultivate a culture of care by showing up as my authentic self, listening to what’s important to others, and leaning into our foundation’s values. - Tara Schorr, Sunnybrook
Shine Bright Bear  
One of my goals this year has been to uplift my colleagues--a message reinforced over and over at the conference. - Karen Delsman, Willamette University
Proud Heart Cat  
I try my best to create a culture of care not only at work, but personally by giving at least one of the three T's (time, treasure, talent) to organizations that advocate and do good work for the people (and cats!) that I care about. -Bridget Gavaghan Everman, Saint Joseph's University

In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - August 2023

Cheryl Smith Lintner

Executive Director, Donor Relations

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation


It’s almost time for me to put on nice pants again - just a few more weeks until the ADRP 20th Annual International Conference. I’ve got Purple Rain on repeat, and I’m practicing my enunciation - there are a lot of syllables in Minneapolis!

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Message from the 2023 Conference Chair

Margaret Coad 
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

This year, the ADRP International Conference in Minneapolis on Oct 5-7 will feature deep-dive workshops that address leadership development at all stages as well as crash courses in the fundamentals of our profession. We are proud to present leaders in the field that address what is often the stickiest aspects of our work.

Theresa Haenn will focus on finding calm in the chaos and breaking down silos, and Kay Coughlin will guide us in tools to manage up, down and across. Nicole Wood will provide a leadership coaching session, and ADRP veterans Jen McGrath, Eliza McNulty, Mark Lanum, Debbie Meyers and Kathleen Diemer will provide a DR 101 road map if you're just joining the field or want to brush up on the latest in best practices.

The organizing committee has placed careful attention on curating game-changing connections for you through multiple networking opportunities. This year we are bringing back the option to participate in a small-group cohorts to develop close contacts that last beyond conference, a welcome party for all participants, and not one but TWO group excursions!

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Presenter Spotlight – Tracie Jae

Increase the Volume of the Quiet Rebel in You with the 100 Voices Framework ADRP Experiential Conference Session 

Tracie Jae, aka The Quiet Rebel, doesn’t make any guarantees – with one exception. She promises that you will walk away from her 100 Voices Framework at the 2023 ADRP conference with what you need.

You define that, not her.

Tracie’s commitment to offering audiences experiences that connect us to our shared humanity and foster a space where we feel safe and seen is among the many reasons we are thrilled to feature her in this year’s conference.

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Let’s Connect at ADRP 2023!

In addition to the fantastic content and the occasion to explore a different city (for all the non- Minneapolitans), the conference offers the opportunity to meet, brainstorm with, and develop friendships with your peers. Our field is full of caring, resourceful, and fun professionals, so be sure to take advantage of the many chances to network.

Calling all party people! (and people who like to eat and drink)
The Purple Launch Party
Get into the Minnesota spirit and rep the state color by wearing your purple garb and accessories! This welcome reception takes place on Wednesday, October 4, (5:00–7:00 PM), with appetizers and a cash bar. Anyone who arrives early for the conference is invited. It’s a great informal time to connect and reunite with fellow ADRPers.

Networking Reception
On Thursday, October 5, (5:15–7:15 PM), we invite you to the conference’s main social event. Enjoy heavy appetizers, one drink ticket, and a cash bar while you mingle with our industry partner sponsors and vendors, and fellow donor relations folks. It’s the perfect time to chat about what you learned on the first day and take photos. 

Meet New People
Have a tough time figuring out what to talk about with someone you just met?
During both receptions, we’ll have cards with professional and personal questions/prompts to make conversations easier.
Looking for focused time to chat in a small group?
Then our Cohort Program is for you! You’ll be paired with other attendees and meet as a group before, during, and after the conference to discuss all things donor relations and fundraising. The program facilitates meaningful and purposeful networking with the chance to raise topics and questions that are important to your work. Cohorts will be a mix of experience levels and institutions. Sign Up Now
Need to address a work task or take a break?
This year’s Break Room features many of the amenities you’re used to—business center, printing, outlets for charging—and will also have snacks, goodies, and a calm space to check email or check in on yourself!
Want to spend time with fellow foodies?
One of the best ways to get a taste of a city (pun intended) is by checking out the dining scene. Dine-Arounds are an opportunity to get to know your fellow conference attendees around the dinner or lunch table. We’ve compiled a diverse list of restaurants for dinner on Thursday and Friday, and for lunch on Saturday. To check out the Minneapolis food scene, you can sign up for as many meals as you’d like. Sign Up Now

In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - July 2023

Cheryl Smith Lintner

Executive Director, Donor Relations

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation


In the spring, I shared the board’s plan to launch My ADRP Live! - a regional networking and engagement event hosted by the board for donor relations professionals in the Toronto area in June. Well, folks, let me tell you - we had so much fun! We laughed, we commiserated, we shared great ideas and total flops. We met new faces and connected with familiar friends. 
The best part: it was relatively simple to put together! The board took the concept of My ADRP and brought it to life in a small meeting room with 20-25 attendees. We had several donor relations-specific questions, like “How do you surprise and delight donors?” and “What are creative ways to communicate impact?” We broke out into groups for a quick 5-7 minute discussion on each question, then came back together for reports. Attendees shared so many great ideas! And, to end the evening with a little levity, we debated the very, very important question, “Should pizza slices be triangular or square?” 
Want to host your own My ADRP Live! event? It’s easy! Reach out to the ADRP Office for a list of local members in your area to help you get started. Thinking bigger? We are working on a comprehensive toolkit for regional engagement events. Stay tuned!

Member Spotlight: Eileen Bastien

Name: Eileen Bastien
Institution: Seton Hall University
Position: Senior Director of Stewardship and Donor Engagement
Can you tell us about your career trajectory? How did you come into donor relations as a career?
Straight out of college, I joined the fashion industry convinced that I would be fulfilled by beautiful garments, celebrity designers and the evolution of culture through the fashion lens. After eight years, I realized that none of it fueled my spirit. I needed more. So, I left the industry and joined a small college in New York City, where I learned that there was more to life than the latest dress trends. I sincerely believe that if you are not progressing in life, you will not achieve happiness. Working in higher education keeps me in close proximity to learning, growing, and inspiring others. 
What influenced your interest in and passion for donor relations?
Throughout my career in higher education, I have been driven by a deep passion for donor relations, stewardship, and building meaningful connections. With over 20 years of experience in engagement, communications, marketing, and stewardship within the nonprofit sector, I have had the privilege of making a lasting impact in the lives of both donors and the organizations I have worked with.
From my early days as an admissions/financial aid associate to my current role as senior director for stewardship and donor engagement, my journey has been defined by a commitment to cultivating relationships and fostering a culture of philanthropy. I have been fortunate to work with diverse populations and engage with high-net-worth individuals, aligning their passions with impactful initiatives.
What lessons, words of advice/inspiration would you like to pass on to other donor relations professionals?
As I continue to learn and grow, I actively seek opportunities to stay at the forefront of industry best practices. I highly encourage other donor relations professionals to invest in your own growth by connecting with other professionals. Learn from others and watch your career blossom. 
Philanthropy has the power to shape a better world, and I am honored to play a role in facilitating those transformative connections between donors and organizations. In my journey, I have come to realize that donor relations is not just a career, but a calling. It is a privilege to build bridges, nurture relationships, and witness the remarkable outcomes that emerge when passionate individuals come together to create positive change.
Can you talk about a specific donor engagement or stewardship activity that makes you feel like you are providing the best experience for donors?
One of the most rewarding experiences of my career has been witnessing the transformative power of philanthropy through a donor’s journey of discovering where he would have the greatest transformative impact. This donor supported many areas, but never once did he consider a personal hobby a possibility. 
It’s encounters like these that have fueled my dedication to creating personalized stewardship programs that honor donors and provide them with a meaningful connection to the causes they care about.
Connection to ADRP:
When did you become an ADRP member?
I joined ADRP in the early 2000s. Prior to that, I attended the New England Stewardship Conference. 
Why is ADRP membership important to you?
Stewardship and donor relations are often misunderstood. Is it art or is it science? It is both. As a member of ADRP, I am fortunate to connect with visionary and progressive professionals who empower and support me as I grow and expand in the art and science of donor relations and stewardship.  
ADRP is universally recognized as the authority on donor engagement for the philanthropy profession. In your own words, how does ADRP serve you in the form of professional development?
There is an old African Proverb that answers this question for me: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. 
ADRP empowers you to go far.

In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - June 2023

Cheryl Smith Lintner

Executive Director, Donor Relations

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation


For me, one of the most exciting things about being a senior donor relations professional is seeing new professionals intentionally choose donor relations as a career. How many times have I heard: “Well, it’s a funny story how I just sort of fell into donor relations…”? Too many to count! And for a long time, that was our shared narrative. 
But, folks, as Bob Dylan so aptly put it: “The times, they are a-changin'.” 
ADRP’s members - all 2,000+ strong!! - now include individuals who saw the potential in donor relations - and jumped right in. From the advancement services intern who applied for that junior level role on the stewardship team right after graduation; to the former frontline fundraisers who happily defected to donor relations (there are lots of you!); to the young adult whose parent is a donor relations professional and decided that works for them too (really, I met them!). 
When it comes to careers, donor relations is still quite young. And it’s incredibly heart-warming to see these changes, little by little, in our growth and our impact as a profession. It’s kind of like watching a kid grow.* I am proud and bewildered and nostalgic all at the same time. I was part of this. You are part of this. We are part of this.
Thank you for choosing donor relations, and thank you for choosing ADRP. 
*Metaphorically and literally for me, as my kid is now *gasp* 7 inches taller than me and counting.


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Member Spotlight: Barbara C. Mlawer

Barbara C. Mlawer
NYU Langone Health
Director, Stewardship

Can you tell us about your career trajectory? How did you come into donor relations as a career?

I began a career in healthcare development communications over 15 years ago, cutting my teeth at two incredible medical institutions: the first one as the director of development communications at Northwell Health and now as the director of stewardship at NYU Langone Health. 

Stewardship, as a distinct unit within the development and alumni Affairs department at NYU Langone was, believe it or not, somewhat new so while I ‘sit’ on the stewardship team, I really feel that my work more closely reflects donor relations work. 

As a donor relations professional, using my visual arts background, I get to partner with our fundraisers to develop communication pieces that capture the impact donors have when they make a gift. It’s both creatively fulfilling as well as strategically specific to our mission and donor interests.

What influenced your interest in and passion for donor relations? 
I fell into this role as the communications partner to the gift officer who manages one of our programs. The program aided medically underserved women to access breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment. As the communications lead, I got to know the doctors, the patients, and hear their stories. I felt the obligation to steward those stories accurately and realized the important role donor relations plays. Donor relations professionals have the unique ability of sharing stories and crystalizing the impact that support can make in saving people’s lives.
What lessons, words of advice/inspiration would you like to pass on to other donor relations professionals?
Follow your passion. Find the cause that means something to you, that makes you feel like you can make a difference and go for it. Meet the people to learn their stories. Understand the goals of your organization to drive the mission forward, marrying the stories and impact. If you find purpose in your work, this bleeds into your life. Who else gets to use their work to make a difference? As donor relations professionals, we get to make a difference. What a gift.
Can you talk about a specific donor engagement or stewardship activity that makes you feel like you are providing the best experience for donors?  
I had the pleasure of capturing the inspiring stories of the women in our cancer program. I got to interview, film, and photograph them, culminating in a wonderful video and donor report. These assets have been used and re-used, garnering new support for the program. 

Connection to ADRP: 
When did you become an ADRP member?
I became an ADRP member in 2021.  

Why is ADRP membership important to you? 
This community is so amazing and supportive. Ask a question and before you know it, you’ll receive countless responses across the spectrum. And conversely, I have been more than happy to respond whenever I have something to contribute. I always find a nugget of information I can use and/or share with my colleagues.

ADRP is universally recognized as the authority on donor engagement for the philanthropy profession. In your own words, how does ADRP serve you in the form of professional development?
The webinars, the conferences, the email digests, the website, all serve as a fountain of information. ADRP lives up to its tagline: Collaborate. Connect. Learn. 

I am truly grateful to be part of this community.

Member Spotlight: Will León

Will León
Arizona State University Foundation
Director, Donor Digital Engagement Services

Can you tell us about your career trajectory? How did you come into donor relations as a career?

Given that I've spent 25 years in the higher education space, it's fair to say that higher education is in my wheelhouse. I began my career in donor relations after working in the University of Texas at Austin Development Office in corporate and foundation relations. When I relocated to the Phoenix area, I was hired by Arizona State University and have continued my career there.

What influenced your interest in and passion for donor relations?

Donor relations found me! Also, what better way to spend one’s time than expressing gratitude! Receiving gratitude makes donors feel good about their decision to give, and it makes me feel good to express gratitude to donors and colleagues as well. I think it's an honorable thing to acknowledge that people are supporting your organization and to find additional ways to engage with donors and connect them to their passions.

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In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - May 2023

Cheryl Smith Lintner

Executive Director, Donor Relations

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation


In just a few weeks, I will be on a short flight to Toronto, Canada, where I will gather with the other members of the ADRP board for two days of intense and thoughtful discussions at our annual spring in-person meeting. On the agenda are new board director nominations, membership structure, by-laws (so fun!), and policy development (also so fun!). And while I jest, these important conversations and decisions always leave me energized and excited about the future of ADRP. More to come on that front!

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Career Time Machine

It’s never too early or late to reflect on one’s career especially after a life-changing experience like a global pandemic. Many of us have likely changed in small ways over the last two years including where you find yourself on the donor relations spectrum. Leave us a comment to let us know in the comments below!


A New Hope for the Future of Scholarship Reporting

Sara Moïse
Tulane University
Senior Director of Donor Relations


One of the most prevalent struggles I hear across education-based donor relations professionals is getting scholarship recipients to submit content for stewardship reports. I also spend a lot of my time thinking about JEDI. (Yes, my husband is a mega Star Wars nerd, but I mean Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.) These two topics cross lightsabers in my mind with high frequency… and I think there’s A New Hope for the future.

As we work toward equity and inclusivity, I find myself examining the power dynamic between scholarship donors and recipients, who should express gratitude to donors, and what best serves our donors and students (i.e., our future donors!) in the long term.

At my institution, we don’t require gratitude from scholarship recipients. We strongly encourage it—with repeated, months-long reminders that are laborious and ineffective. Even in-person events often fail to generate content as the Jedis-in-training are focused more on free food and swag.

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Top Ten Reasons to Volunteer with ADRP

  1. Network with colleagues all over the world.
  2. Get the inside scoop on ADRP activities before everyone else does.
  3. Make a difference: Is there something you’d like to improve about ADRP?
  4. Join a committee and make the change yourself!
  5. Work and learn alongside donor relations veterans.
  6. Make friends.
  7. Learn new skills such as event planning, project management, communications, and presenting.
  8. Gain professional experience that you can add to your resume.
  9. Have a platform to share your ideas and expertise.
  10. Broaden your perspective.
  11. Have fun! 

Member Spotlight: (Volunteer Appreciation Edition)

Carrie Flood
Dalhousie University  
Director, Donor Relations

Corey Smentek
Director, Donor Relations & Stewardship


Carrie and Corey currently lead ADRPs marketing and communications committee.

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In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - April 2023

Cheryl Smith Lintner

Executive Director, Donor Relations

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation

It’s kind of hard to shout out an enthusiastic message in a static written column. Stage directions might help.

Cheryl enters from stage right with a bullhorn. She taps it, and whispers “Is this thing on?” Then, she shouts:

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Thank Volunteers for Their Heart Work

Jennifer Hughes
National Park Foundation
Senior Manager, Board and Council Relations

Volunteers are special people. They offer your organization a diverse skill set and bring incredible abilities to help deliver on your organization’s greatest needs. Volunteers make a difference by recognizing no task is too small or insignificant. Each volunteer is a tiny piece of the puzzle with a large purpose in making change and creating opportunities throughout the world. One of my favorite quotes comes from Mother Teresa: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

I spent the last seven years in a donor relations role. I had the great honor to be able to communicate the impact and importance that philanthropy has on our national parks as part of our stewardship events team. Last year, I transitioned over to a new role in governance and working directly to manage our Board of Directors and National Advisory Council, some of our organization’s biggest supporters and ultimately, volunteers. Being able to think of creative ways to thank them for their volunteer leadership and philanthropy is a rewarding aspect of stepping into this new capacity for me. Sometimes we get caught up in the details of our roles without appreciating the broader ways that our daily efforts help meet the organization’s mission.

This is a friendly reminder that they are not just volunteers. They’re not just planting trees. They’re not just serving a bowl of soup. They’re not just planning the next ADRP International Conference. We know that our volunteers’ impact far exceeds the action that is taken in our communities, and we should continuously thank our volunteers for their commitment and talents. I encourage you to send a note of kudos to your volunteers and show your appreciation for all of their heart work and dedication to help build upon your mission today.

March 2023 - In Service: The Column of the ADRP President

Cheryl Smith Lintner

Executive Director, Donor Relations

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation

Have you heard of the Swedish tradition, fika? According to Google’s Oxford Languages dictionary, fika is defined as “a break from activity during which people drink coffee, eat cakes or other light snacks, and relax with others.” I first heard about this custom in 2020 in the midst of a flurry of idea-sharing about how to manage remote teams and keep in touch with friends during the pandemic. And I thought, wow, you had me at coffee. But also the “break” and “relax with others” parts were appealing. I started holding virtual fikas first with friends, then with colleagues, and now with my team. Every other Friday, we log on to Zoom for a Friday afternoon fika. No work talk. Just coffee (or tea), a little BYOS (bring your own snacks), and a chat. It’s been a great way to unwind, vent, and celebrate - to be among people who share common interests and genuinely want to get to know each other better. 

And that, my friends, is the essence of ADRP. We are a group of like-minded people who share a common interest and want to get to know each other better. So I encourage all of you to start your own little fika. Have you been exchanging messages with someone on MyADRP and want to talk face-to-face? Did you meet an awesome fellow newcomer at an event last year? Are you looking to pull together colleagues who live in your area (psst…the ADRP Office can help with that)? Host a fika! 

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Member Spotlight: Karen J. Hamilton

Karen J. Hamilton

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
Director of Donor Relations and Stewardship


Background Info

Can you tell us about your career trajectory? How did you come into donor relations as a career?

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The Hub wants to hear from you!

Our skill set as a Donor Relations professional prepares us to be ready in many different situations and scenarios. This got us thinking. What other career could you see yourself in if you were not in the Donor Relations world? Leave a comment on the post in link below to let us know your thoughts!