Growing up in Madison has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. From an early age, I have been surrounded by the vibrancy, generosity, and kindness that Madison and the people who live here offer. Having the opportunity to grow up in this environment has, I believe, put me on the path that I am on. So many of Madison’s best nonprofits and community organizations have touched me throughout my life that I knew somewhere down the line I would feel compelled to give back in some way, I just didn’t know how.
I completed my undergraduate degree here at UW Madison in May of 2022. My majors were Community and Nonprofit Leadership (CNPL) and Political Science, with a certificate in Education. CNPL isn’t a field of study many people know about, and I didn’t either until I attended orientation. The second I heard about it I knew that it was for me, and I never looked back. As I looked around at my friends in other majors scrambling to do well on exams and take perfect notes, I went to class excited to soak in information and participate in hands-on learning, all about nonprofits. While I knew I loved CNPL work, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do with it going forward.
In my senior year of college, I completed an internship for CNPL at Briarpatch Youth Services as a Communications and Development Intern. This opportunity changed the way I thought of my role in the nonprofit world. With the help of some fantastic supervisors and mentors, I realized that my strengths and my passions lie in development. I had the chance to help plan and execute Briarpatch’s Youth Arts Festival and this event was the turning point in defining my future. This experience opened my eyes to how much I love engaging with the community. For the first time, I finally felt like I found my place and I didn’t want to let that go.
After my internship ended, I was craving more development experience so that I could fine-tune even more where I fit within it all. I wasn’t sure that finding a job would be feasible right away and wanted more support and guidance like I had received at Briarpatch.
Enter Bolz Center! When I found the Bolz Center, I started doing some research and realized that although I don’t have a significant arts background, I still might have a place here. I realized that programming and arts are closely related, and I have been coordinating children’s programming for several years. Arts have a specific role to play in youth development and that passion, combined with my nonprofit experience, made me feel like the Bolz Center would be right for me.
Now that I am here, I have been fortunate to do my Applied Learning Placement at Madison Children’s Museum as a Development Associate. This perfectly partners my interests in youth, arts, education, and nonprofits. I have been able to write grants, help with events, talk to donors, and overall get a broader look at development. With the support of the development team at the museum (made up of Bolz alumni!), I am getting that extra development boost that I craved.
I am also placed, along with fellow MA-ACE candidate Aaron Thielen, as a non-voting board member at Canopy Center, which is a child abuse treatment and prevention center in Madison, WI. This experience has been nothing short of amazing and I have loved getting to work with Aaron and our partners at Canopy. Having an insight into board governance has been paramount in understanding development. I have also been partnered with Friends of San Damiano Monona through our Bolz Impact Consulting class, where my team and I are working to build up their fundraising efforts.
Everything I have been working on through the Bolz Center circles around development in some way and I have finally found my way to give back. Because the Bolz Center is laying the foundation for me to have a successful career in fundraising and development, I feel confident in my future. I am hopeful that the Bolz Center will move me into the development career that I want. It is important to me that I look for a career that not only checks the development box but is also an organization that I have a deep passion and interest in. As I explore more nonprofits, I realize I am open to anything but have interest areas in healthcare, children, education, community engagement, and arts. I feel both excited and prepared to continue “developing me” in whatever ways my path leads me next!