City of residence: Texas City
Current title: Advancement officer
Place of business: College of the Mainland and COM Foundation
Education: I received my Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential in 2017, ten years after receiving my bachelor's degree from Baylor University in Political Science and Business. I had transferred from Temple College where I received my associate's degree.
Family: I’m a sixth-generation Texan and enjoy that most of my family lives in the state. I am blessed with the most amazing wife and two little kids! My wife, Sarah, spent 10 years traveling the world and managing a multimillion-dollar dance studio in Dallas. Needless to say, she is smart, fun, supportive and an awesome dancer! My little girl is 4 years old but has no doubts she runs the show. She is Elsa, she is a princess and, yes, she loves to dance. I could write forever about how beautiful, smart and precious she is. My little man is almost 3 years old, yes, they are close in age, and boy is he a boy! Already passionate about anything rough, tumble or sports. He is full of energy, life and love. Family is a top priority for me.
Professional responsibilities: I build relationships and help connect people with a philanthropic interest with opportunities to make a lasting difference in someone's life through the power of higher education. Professional responsibilities include working closely with individuals, grantors, corporations and organizations to establish new scholarships, endowments and fund college initiatives. I am responsible for nearly all things fundraising, including major gifts, planned giving, annual gifts and alumni relations at College of the Mainland. Key aspects of my day-to-day responsibilities include being a responsible steward of donor funds, ensuring the most meaningful experience for those people in our community who have given their resources because of their belief that giving is a purposeful and long-term investment into the lives of students, their families and our local economy. Building positive and lasting donor relationships and engaging with the community is an important aspect of my position. I think I've got the best job at COM because to me, nothing surpasses witnessing amazing students overcome very real, very tough impossibilities to achieve success and the joy that our donors experience when giving. The driving passion that serves as my day-to-day fuel is that I am making a positive, transformational difference in what I get to do every day at work.
Accomplishments/honors: One my proudest accomplishments within my position at COM has been the opportunity in re-establishing COM Foundation and rebuilding the trust and respect from our community and donors over the last four years. One of my greatest honors and accomplishments was being elected as president/CEO by my state-wide peers in community college fundraising and leading our state association through a strategic re-invention process where we have seen remarkable success.
Community involvement: Chaired the Education Committee for the League City Regional Chamber of Commerce for a year and a half. The group's mission was to bridge the gap between business needs and education through advocacy and online tools. The group developed an Internship & Volunteer Board and a Scholarships Online Board. Was a member of the League City Rotary Club for nearly three years, volunteering with the Clear View High School mentoring program and serving on the scholarship committee member. Organized and led the United Way Campaign at COM for two years, creating a fun, positive and transparent giving campaign that resulted in the largest showing of support ever from the college to the United Way. Continued to serve on the United Way allocation committee after transitioning campaign leadership. Regularly visit with and give professional advice to representatives of small, local nonprofits on topics ranging from how to best utilize LinkedIn as a resource or nonprofit and fundraising strategies.
Why did you go into your particular field?
I never planned to go into higher education or nonprofit fundraising. After graduating from Baylor with a degree in political science, I accepted a position working at a community college until I could figure out what field I wanted to pursue. After several years working in financial aid and academic advising, I discovered that my skills, experience and career goals aligned best with fundraising. I went into my field because I love working with people and seeing my work make an impact in the lives of both students and donors.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I couldn’t decide between being a constitutional law attorney, missionary or musician.
What was your first job?
My first job as a teenager was mowing yards with a man in his mid-70s. George Partee was a perfect example of what inspired Tom Brokaw to define that era as The Greatest Generation. I learned some of my greatest lessons in leadership, work and life during the several years I worked with him. Promptly at 6 a.m., his old red Chevy pickup would pull up in the driveway where I would be waiting. Except for the first time he arrived, when my peaceful rest was disrupted with his knock on my bedroom window. My first lesson: Prepare and be ready on time. Hard work wasn’t talked about; it was expected and given in equal share as even the day after receiving a chemo treatment he would still outwork me.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Several pieces of advice shared over the years have become life mantras: 1. A job worth doing is worth doing right. 2. Work with others, not under or over. 3. An experience does not constitute a mistake unless nothing is learned from it and it is repeated.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
I’ve got the best job at the college. I get to play a role and witness amazing students overcome very real, very tough impossibilities to achieve success and share in the joy that many of our donors experience when giving. I’m confident that the work I do is making a long-term, positive and transformational difference for our community, college and the lives of our students. I appreciate the variety of my work and the focus on building relationships.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your career?
Be intentional and focus on the important, not the urgent. Daily prioritize and map out your goals for the day, week, etc. Productively, satisfaction and sustainable impact hinges on it.
Who do you consider to be your greatest mentor and why?
That is tough! I’ve been blessed to count several folks as great mentors. My grandmother is one of my greatest mentors. Generosity, love and a passion for life and others are hallmarks of who she is. She shared her love of nature, history and made my dream of studying martial arts possible. I would be remiss to not mention another great mentor, Mary Casey. Mary believed in me when others did not, instructing me in voice. I first learned from her to live life intentionally, create clear goals and learned that something is not a mistake unless nothing is learned and it is repeated.
When you’re not at work, what do you do to relax?
I dance! Play with my two amazing children and wife. Grab a book or journal and find a place outdoors to be still, quiet and think.
What is something about you that most people don’t know?
Since my passion for dancing is out of the bag, I would say something most folks don’t know about me is that I studied martial arts and fencing for more than 10 years. A deeper level of nerdy unknown is my long-time interest in genealogy.
How do you hope to grow in your career?
My goals for career growth are measured in three areas. First, finding the best fit in the place and position I am employed. Second, consistently growing my knowledge-bank of the profession. Third, giving back to others through my leadership in professional associations and mentorship of other colleagues.
If you couldn’t do what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
Travel the world and write.