It Takes a Village

22 May

My time at 890 Broadway was full of memorable experiences. My tasks included everything from donor prospect research to guiding donors through studio visits, basking in the beauty of excerpts from Giselle and Romeo and Juliet. Throughout my internship, I’ve marveled especially at the vast and vibrant teamwork taking place in the office, particularly within my development team and among organizational leadership.

When I joined ABT as the Major Gifts intern, I knew I was also joining a small team of development staff, having immediately received a warm welcome from the Associate Directors of Major Gifts, Diane Kuhl and Jon Haddorff. After our first department meeting, however, I realized that the team stretched farther than I could’ve imagined, encompassing not only major gifts, but also employees in membership, institutional support, database management, and special events. I was taken aback and inspired by realizing the massive number of people working towards the similar fundraising end goals. This team of supporters only continued to expand in my mind as I learned more about the organization.

A few weeks into my internship, we were visited in an intern meeting by Executive Director Kara Medoff Barnett. She walked us through her personal journey, sharing anecdotes about early experiences post-grad, her time as a producer both on and off Broadway, her position at Lincoln Center, and the shift to her current role at ABT, all while juggling motherhood and other personal triumphs. We all laughed and chatted as we absorbed her powerful advice and experience. Following the meeting, I went back to my desk and prepared some ticket order forms before the weekly development department meeting. Not one hour later, we were visited in this meeting by Kara as well, but this time immediate work at hand took precedence. She immediately shifted gears, discussing cultivation strategies and ABT’s diverse Board of Directors. Watching the seamless transition from lighthearted advice to stern and clear leadership, while remaining upbeat and optimistic, was quite special.

One thing I’ve been taught time and time again in school is that “no one owns a nonprofit,” and its success is reliant on the work of all team members; as an intern, I’ve felt this as I’ve continuously been encouraged to share questions and ideas as a valuable member of the development team. However, I think ABT pairs this well-balanced team with inspiring leadership, from both Kara and Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. I knew I would be grateful for the opportunity to work with world-class artistry right at my fingertips, viewable even on the walk from my desk to the mailroom. But even now with COVID-19 having shifted the office to a remote setting, I am grateful to work with incredible staff members, from executives down to my fellow interns. Everyone offers something to learn, and just being present at these various meetings has taught me an incredible amount.

Emmalie Tello

Major Gifts Intern

Spring 2020

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