Chief Development Officer
Ann Jerome
Employer: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas

Position description:
As the chief fundraiser for the local Chapter of RMHC, I am involved in a variety of activites that create opportunities for folks to develop relationships with our organization which leads to financial and volunteer support. No day is ever the same! My job is a big mix of marketing, communications, strategic planning, donor cultivation, event planning, and of course fundraising.

Photo: Ann Jerome
How They Got There
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Undergrad degree:  Sociology

Favorite class in college:  Social Psychology

Graduate degree:  Master's Degree in Sociology - I was a single mom at the time with an infant son and was able to get a Graduate Assistantship at the Univeristy of Memphis which made a lasting impact on my life and career opportunities.

College to career:  I went straight from my bachelor's to the master's degree program. Within a couple of months of graduation and re-locating to Omaha, I had my first job leading a job readiness/job search program at Goodwill Industries. It was an amazing environment to learn about management, strategic planning, program planning and grant writing. I never looked back, I held a variety of program and fundraising positions with more responsibility and became the CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City in 2001 leaving there after leading the Chapter through its largest expansion and capital campaign to date. In 2008, I re-located to Austin with my family and managed to remain in the RMHC system - an amazing mission & organization.

Career influences:  The main influence on my career choice was a Catholic priest who led a volunteer project that I was involved in from the third to fifth grade. As children we worked with Vietnamese refugees who had re-settled outside of New Orleans in 1973. I learned at a very young age that I had skills and expertise to offer other children and adults, and loved the feeling of helping others in a very meaningful way.

I always was drawn to leadership and campaign type positions, and in college I learned more about the structure of not-for-profit organziations as a volunteer for Planned Parenthood.

The Ups and Downs
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I have been in the not-for-profit arena all of my career and have loved every position I've had for the past twenty-one years. The key has been to be true to myself and what I value as a mission which has led to wonderful leadership opportunities, personal/professional growth and change. Sometimes the hours are long and if the main project is campaign related then the time involved can be very intense.

Pros: I have the opportunity to work with staff and volunteers who are very diverse and very committed to the same mission as me.

Cons: Since our mission involves working with families who have hospitalized children, there are times when things don't go as well as we hope for them and that can be emotionally tough yet inspiring. And, there seems to never be enough time or resources to get everything done!!

Recommendations
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I feel like I had some great mentors every step of the way - and still do! They encouraged me to take risks and to challenge myself in order to grow - not to fear failure, but to learn from any sidesteps or mis-steps.

Students coming out of college need to be willing to work hard at whatever opportunity they are presented with - often your dream job is a few steps away, so take the time time learn and prepare with each position or responsibility you are given.

For those choosing a major I would definitely choose something that you love and that moves you. I chose sociology because I enjoy people and working with groups - I was able to make a career by having a great work ethic, common sense, being a quick learner and a very generalist viewpoint that I believe I learned in college.

Interested in This Career?
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  • American Humanics  ( Industry Organization )
    It's a great college degree program that helps develop not-for-profits leaders.
  • RMHC Austin  ( Website )
    Our local RMHC Chapter website - it's very current and relevant in the RMHC and not-for-profit world.