We are honored to welcome the marvelous Linda Haley as our new Chief of Development and Marketing Officer.
Following her recent move from St. Louis (which she called home for 33 years), we sat down to discuss her inspiring journey through the world of fundraising.
First off, a little birdy told us you used to play basketball?
Yes, I played at Oral Roberts University (Tulsa, OK) which was about 30 minutes from my hometown–I grew up on a farm.
What position did you play?
I started out as power forward and ended up as small forward. The tallest person was 6’6”, then 6’2, and then me. You gotta embrace your tallness when you’re a woman.
Did you ever think of playing professional basketball?
They didn’t have the WNBA when I was playing. I had a chance to play in Europe, but I was already married, and they wouldn’t let my husband go with me so…
How did you become interested in fundraising?
I was a high school English teacher to start and I did that for about five years, and then I worked in Mental Health Research for five years at Washington University in St. Louis, and then I fell into fundraising because I was looking for a new job and there was a “Development Coordinator” position listed in the newspaper. I literally had no idea what it was, but I thought “I can coordinate things” because I’m very organized. I got the job and ended up working at the headquarters of the of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. My boss was the “Fundraiser of the Year” in the United States at the time–so that was my first mentor. My first board chair was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Ronald Reagan. I worked with some cool guys, I really did. I’m very blessed. They helped me to enjoy a fantastic career.
We heard you run your own company in St. Louis?
I do, I run a company called “Let’s Build Hope” and I teach nonprofits how to raise money more effectively. I teach a fundraising class three times a year called The Annual Fun Training Camp–I teach you everything about fundraising that you need to know in 40 hours. It’s exhausting and fun for me. I’ve had 165 people go through the class. Now that I’m primarily working in Denver, I have two people running my company right now.
Does your family live in St. Louis?
I have two sons, Chad and Parker. Chad is 27 and he lives in Chicago. Parker is 23 and recently graduated. Right now he’s a high school vocal music teacher–he’s my renaissance man. I miss my kids a lot.
How are you enjoying Denver so far?
I absolutely love it and I’ve only been here for about 12 days. The sunshine is beautiful. I love hiking, and I haven’t gotten to do that yet, but I will. There’s also a lot of great food, fun theatres–I haven’t had a chance to do a lot of it yet, but I’m definitely excited to hike. I think it’ll be my favorite activity here. I’m working out with Lance already, he’s my trainer at the Fitness & Wellness Center.
What is your vision for the J?
I feel like the J is perfectly poised to really embody everything Bob Loup stood for. This is a place where life happens and I love that. Just lifting that and inviting more people to the beauty that is the J is one of my real hopes. Everytime I sit in the lobby or see Shabbat Sing it just gives me such a good feeling of community and a sense of being something that’s way more important than one person. It will impact people I’ll never see, and that’s what I love. The idea of giving something to people that you may never see, but allowing it to live on for generations makes me proud and excited. I’m humbled to be working here and to be a part of it.