Staff Spotlights

Our people are what drives the UC Foundation and its mission to support UC's aspirations through philanthropy. Read stories of foundation employees and how they have made an impact through a career at the UC Foundation.

View our current opportunities to learn how you can create your own story by joining the UC Foundation team.

 


Building a Career at UC Foundation

Gina Christensen
Director of Records Management

Gina Christensen didn’t plan on building a career at the UC Foundation when she accepted her first job. “I came here when I was 18. I came for a job, not a career.” Yet three decades after she accepted a job as a file clerk in the foundation’s research department, she is still supporting the UC community as the Director of Records Management.

Gina’s career path was fueled by an eye for detail, a passion for the UC Foundation’s mission, and peers who recognized and fostered talent. “I can’t tell you how many title changes I’ve had. I’ve been able to advance. I’ve been very lucky that I’ve had bosses who realized that I like data and I’m detail oriented and I care about the donors.”

While the quality of her workhelped Gina advance within the foundation team, it was the impact of her work that motivated her to continue working with the UC Foundation. “I’ve always prided myself on helping development officers get the information they need, get it in the system, get it right, and feel like I am a part of it in some way.“ That dedication led Gina from working as a file clerk to working on the foundation research team, handling acknowledgement letters for the UC President, managing two conversions of the foundation’s file systems and ultimately to running the foundation’s business office. “Once I realized this is what I wanted to do, I just thought, this is really great and something I want to be a part of and say that I can help.”

Working at the UC Foundation has given Gina an opportunity to build her natural talents and make a lasting impact for UC and its community. Most importantly, years after finding her first job here, she is still excited about her work and what the foundation has to offer. “It’s fulfilling for me. If someone comes with a question, I want to figure it out. I’ve always been a problem solver. I feel like I’m doing something good every day, and a lot of people don’t have that… I’ve been a part of some cool things, and more to come.”

To learn how you can become a member of the UC Foundation team, check out our current opportunities.

 


Paying It Forward Through Leadership

Lynnette M. Heard

Lynnette M. Heard, MEd
Director of Foundation Board Relations and
Secretary of the Board of Trustees

Lynnette M. Heard has enjoyed nearly three decades as part of the higher education community in a number of roles, and her career path started as a student at the University of Cincinnati. Now that she is a member of the UC Foundation leadership team, she is passionate about giving current and future UC students the same opportunities she enjoyed. “As a scholarship recipient, someone paid it forward for me to attend UC. Now that I’m here, I feel that it’s my duty to pay it forward to someone else.”

Lynnette has always been a champion for issues of diversity and inclusion in higher education, and is proud of the UC Foundation’s commitment to these issues as well. “The University of Cincinnati foundation is on such a positive and forward-thinking trajectory that in order to shape the future we know that individuals from diverse backgrounds are needed to help us accomplish our vision. Any organization that strives for excellence automatically infuses inclusion as part of its business plan. It’s not an add-on, it is mission-essential.”

As Director of Foundation Board Relations and Secretary of the Board, Lynnette helps ensure interactions between the foundation staff and Board of Trustees are managed effectively, and plays a crucial role in the efforts of both groups to make the UC Foundation best-in-class for higher education fundraising. “I’ve witnessed Rod’s leadership, and the board’s leadership, and our chairman, Bob Fealy’s leadership to assure that this foundation become best in class across the country. We’re on our way”

While Lynnette is passionate about the history of UC, she is equally excited about its future. As part of the UC Foundation executive leadership team, she is in a unique position to help shape that future as UC begins its next chapter. “I’m attracted to the University of Cincinnati Foundation because of the excellence in philanthropy and service found here, and I want to be a part of that story, particularly as we move toward our bicentennial.”

To learn how you can become a member of the UC Foundation team, check out our current opportunities.

 


Pursuing Passions at UC Foundation

Adrienne McDade

Adrienne McDade
Associate Director of Annual Giving

Adrienne McDade took an artistic route to working at the UC Foundation. After three years of splitting her time between trading stocks and teaching dance, Adrienne began searching for programs that would allow her to combine her passion for both the arts and business. That search led her to UC’s Master’s program in Arts Administration.

As a student, Adrienne became active in Cincinnati’s fundraising community. Through her involvement with the Diversity Program (New Faces of Fundraising) of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, she was connected to a former employee of the UC Foundation who helped convince her to join the foundation team. After graduation, Adrienne started as Assistant Director of Annual Giving in 2013.

Now the Associate Director of Annual Giving, Adrienne works with leadership annual giving, helping donors increase their impact and encouraging membership in the prestigious Charles McMicken Society. Her current role offers the blend of creative teamwork and autonomy that initially drew her to nonprofit work. “I get the opportunity to work with others and brainstorm creative ideas, but also get the opportunity to take ownership of a project and see it through from beginning to end.”

As part of the UC Foundation’s staff, Adrienne also enjoys the professional development benefits the foundation offers. “I like that the organization invests in its employees. Whether it’s through workshops, seminars, conferences, tuition remission or other avenues, I feel that the organization values the professional development of its employees as much as their work. This field is constantly evolving, and working for an organization that puts you in a position to recognize and take advantage of those opportunities is valuable.”

To learn how you can become a member of the UC Foundation team, check out our current opportunities.

 


An Unexpected Career in Fundraising

Danny Turner

Danny Turner
Director of Development
College of Engineering & Applied Science

“I don’t think anybody goes into their freshman year of college thinking ‘I want to be a fundraiser when I grow up.’”

Danny Turner turned a part-time student job into a successful career in fundraising. As a college freshman at the University of Kentucky, Danny started working with the university phonathon. Over his college career, he worked his way to become a student supervisor, and chose to continue pursuing fundraising opportunities after graduation. After managing the phonathon at Johns Hopkins University, he aimed to gain more experience with face-to-face fundraising.

Danny was initially drawn to UC Advancement by the momentum of the university’s fundraising efforts. “You always want to work somewhere that is on the way up… I was really impressed with both the university and the foundation.” That momentum paired with a dynamic staff made for a high-energy work environment. “Because we’re all development officers, there are a lot of extroverted personalities, and when you get that in the right combination it can be a lot of fun.”

While the energy of working for UC Advancement is what initially drew him to the job, the work itself is what he finds the most rewarding. “Fundraising, to me, is one of the few professions where you can actually see results of the work you do. I talk to donors about something they are passionate about and try to convince them to invest in the university, and after the project is complete I get to see the donor being happy because they have made an impact, or I get to see students being awarded scholarships based on funds we raised.”

From part-time telefunding to a career at UC Advancement, Danny Turner has been able to make an impact through his work with the UC Foundation. To learn how you can become a member of the UC Foundation team, check out our current opportunities.

 


Making an Impact in Our Community

Mike Zenz

Mike Zenz
Associate Vice President Academic Health Center and UC Health
UC College of Medicine

Celebrating 25 years as a fundraising professional, Mike Zenz was first connected to the University of Cincinnati through his work with the American Heart Association. After a 12 year career working with special event fundraising, Mike was ready to transition to major gift fundraising, and he wanted to work with the UC College of Medicine. “That opportunity presented itself 13 years ago, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to be on board since.”

Part of Mike’s passion for his work with UC Advancement comes from the people he engages while fundraising for the College of Medicine. “Work here is great. It’s a balance of working to build relationships with prominent faculty members in the college itself and working toward the goals of the foundation and the institutions, but it’s also great to work with prospective donors, be they graduates or grateful patients and their family members. There are a lot of strong affiliations we have with our donor base.”

Through his relationships with donors, Mike is able to secure gifts that have a transformational impact on the UC College of Medicine and the community. That ability to make a difference has not only helped shape Mikes professional development, but it has kept him engaged as a fundraiser.  “I just feel blessed to be able to work for an institution that is really a core component for our city. It has an impact that is far reaching throughout our entire community.”

To learn how you can become a member of the UC Foundation team, check out our current opportunities.

 

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