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Motivations of Leaders: Jessica Balsam

Thu, August 25, 2016 11:07 AM | Anonymous member


What makes Prospect Development a great career?

APRA-IL is asking local and national industry leaders what the field means to them and why and how they have pursued success in Prospect Development. Through this blog series we will explore what drives industry leaders to propel their careers and Prospect Development forward.


For this piece in the series, Joan Ogwumike, Development Coordinator at Mikva Challenge and APRA-IL member and volunteer, interviews Jessica Balsam of Washington University.


Jessica Balsam is an exciting leader for us to profile in our series. Beyond her work at the University of Washington, she is the former president and membership director of APRA NW. Currently; she serves as a member on both the APRA Advocacy Committee and APRA Chapters Committee. In recognition of her work in the APRA community and in Prospect Development, she was awarded the APRA Distinguished Service Award at the 2016 Prospect Development Conference in Nashville, TN. We are grateful to Jessica for taking the time to be a part of our blog series and are inspired by her level of dedication to the field of prospect development.

Some of Ms. Balsam's answers have been paraphrased.

APRA- IL: Can you share a piece of advice with the readers, on what you have gained or learned during your professional development?

Jessica Balsam: From my experience being a part of APRA Northwest, I was able to pick up tremendous wisdom from the board, and my fellow chapter members. I would advise readers to network with their local APRA chapter members because they will provide amazing tips and help you reflect on your role within your organization. I would also encourage you to give presentations at your chapter conferences and gatherings – it’s so valuable to get feedback on your work. 

APRA-IL: Describe your motivations in Prospect Development, and what keeps you engaged.

Jessica Balsam: Getting managers and donors comfortable using data, finding new insights within the data, helping fundraisers to direct their focus on the best prospects and become more efficient- all motivate me to stay in the field. It is gratifying to help. 

And thanks to APRA, I have been able to build a network and community that has kept me going in Prospect Development. Right now I am working on my first big comprehensive campaign-- new opportunities like this keep me motivated after tenyears in this field. 

APRA-IL: Describe your journey into your current position.

Jessica Balsam: I began as a Development generalist at a small museum, but I got to the point that I really wanted to focus in one area. It also seemed like the perfect time for a change when I learned of a job in Prospect Development, and I took it. I didn't really know much about APRA either at that time, but it seemed like an opportunity to be more focused, and develop my skills. 

By joining my local APRA chapter I received great professional development and support, they increased my motivation to do great work, and now I'm in my current position, which is also thanks to the network I created through APRA. 

Do you know a leader you want us to profile? Let us know! Email us at info@apraillinois.org


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