Pinky Swear Foundation
What do you do professionally?
I am the Executive Director of the Pinky Swear Foundation, an organization that helps the families of children with cancer through financial and emotional support. Parents of cancer patients often have to quit jobs or reduce their hours to care for their child, resulting in financial strains for the family. We seek to alleviate that strain through financial grants to cover mortgage payments, utilities, car payments and other expenses so that the family can focus on their child with cancer. Last year, Pinky Swear assisted more than 4,000 families.
Why is this your dream job?
I have always been passionate about helping kids with cancer. Before coming to Fuqua, I began volunteering with an organization called Special Love in Northern Virginia. Among other programs, they host a summer camp for kids with cancer. I became a board member at Special Love while I was a student at Fuqua, and continue to serve on the board today.
This role at Pinky Swear Foundation is a dream come true. It feels like the job I've been destined for for the past 15 years—it has been my long-term goal to join an organization with such a compassionate mission. I am excited to put my professional skills to work to increase the impact of this organization. One of my favorite things about the Pinky Swear Foundation is its unique focus on kids helping kids. The organization began with a terminally ill 9-year-old cancer patient's desire to help the families of other kids with cancer who he met in the hospital. That energy and passion continues today with kids putting up lemonade stands, holding garage sales, and soliciting members of their communities to support Pinky Swear. I recently met a group of kids who were running a lemonade stand every day during the summer to raise money for the organization. The empathy and entrepreneurial spirit these kids display is humbling.
How did you get here?
After graduating from Fuqua, I joined as the Head of Human Resources at the British Embassy in Washington and then expanded to a global role working with embassies worldwide on HR and change management. My Fuqua training made a difference in every aspect of my professional life, from hard skills like accounting, operations and finance to soft skills like leadership and team building. I enjoyed my time at Fuqua immensely, and I grew as a person and a professional in so many ways.
What is your favorite Fuqua memory?
I have so many wonderful memories that it's hard to pick just one. I was involved with Special Olympics through the MBA Games. This was such a valuable experience to be able to help others and walk in their shoes. It was a humbling and grounding experience that reminded me that I'm part of a bigger world. I always wanted to use the gift of my education for something larger than myself.
Another favorite experience was the three-month exchange program I did with the University of Cape Town. Being submerged in a different culture and learning from world leaders who came to speak at the university opened my eyes to understanding business and people across the world. My Global Academic Travel Experience (GATE) trips to southeast Asia also played a critical role in my growth, opening my mind and spirit.
Finally, Fuqua Fridays followed by FuquaVision were some of my best memories. It was a time when we could relax and poke fun at ourselves. I learned so much from my classmates and teams during this time.
What does Team Fuqua mean to you?
We are always more powerful as a team than we are alone. There's that saying, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." That's what it embodies. As a leader it's my responsibility to surround myself with diverse people who contribute experiences and talents that make the whole team better. In my search for employees, diversity is top of mind for me to build the best team.
To learn more or support the cause, visit www.pinkyswear.org.