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 month's piece, Joan Ogwumike, APRA-IL member and volunteer, interviews Sabrina Latham, Director of Prospect Management and Research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Sabrina Latham has been employed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for more than 25 years and is currently the Director of Prospect Management and Research - a position she has held since October 2012. She is a member of Apra International and most recently served as a member of the planning committee for ARC 2017 Conference in Atlanta. Sabrina is also president of the Apra MidSouth chapter that represents Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. She has one daughter, Anissa Simone, who graduates from UAB this month.
APRA-IL: Describe your motivations to build your career in Prospect Development, and what keeps you engaged.
Sabrina: It is so easy to burn out from doing the same job repeatedly. However, one comment I heard recently put things into perspective for me. Schoolchildren today are going to be working in careers that have not been created yet. I had to stop and really think about that in comparison to prospect research’s evolution to prospect development. Looking back to the eight or nine years that I’ve worked in the field there have been substantial changes in the various techniques and tools that were not available several years ago. I guess you can say that really keeps me engaged and excited about coming to work.
Also, the outstanding work my colleagues from near and far are doing to promote our profession via the various professional development offerings and through Apra’s Connections newsletter motivate me to do better every day. I don’t know what I would do without their contributions.
APRA-IL: Describe your journey into your current position.
Sabrina: My journey started sometime in 2000 when I was working as web communications specialist in the vice president and dean’s office of our medical school. The senior associate dean and I had a long discussion about what it would take to move up in the rankings of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) federal funding. You can say we were a couple of nerds excited about all of the information that we able to find on our peer institutions as we traded random, yet interesting, statistics back and forth. Additional faculty and staff joined in on the fact finding and the project eventually grew into a school-wide strategic plan that drew over 150 team members, affectionately known as N.E.R.D.s (Network for the Evaluation of Research Data). During this time, I was also writer and editor for the dean’s faculty newsletter, inforMED.
A few years later, a position on the school’s annual giving team opened up and the associate dean recommended me since I had a knack for persuasive writing. That opportunity led to philanthropic grant writing and ultimately my present role in prospect research and management. It wasn’t your typical foray into the field, but it really helped me develop the persistence for finding and analyzing information that is needed for this type of position.
APRA-IL: Can you share three takeaways from your time as an APRA chapter leader?
Sabrina: Never be afraid to ask for guidance from your colleagues that are serving in similar roles because starting out can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming. Everyone is willing to provide advice. When I first started, I reached out to leaders as far as Colorado and picked up wonderful tips with every call or e-mail.
Along those same lines, take advantage of the national networking opportunities offered by headquarters. For example, Apra hosts a Chapter Leaders’ Summit in Chicago every February to distribute important information (i.e. new branding, new web platform, etc.), develop leadership skills and allow us to get to know one another, so we can eventually…
Collaborate, collaborate and collaborate again as much as possible. Just because you volunteer with one chapter does not mean that another chapter is off limits. At the last leadership summit Katie Ingrao (Apra-IL), Jo Theodosopoulos (Apra-MN) and I discussed merging our webinar calendars. Instead of one chapter hosting multiple webinars in a year, Apra-IL will host one and make it available to Apra-MN and Apra-MS members and so on each quarter. More details on the webinars are forthcoming.
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