Apra-IL Presents 20 Questions with ... Kathryn Thomas
Based on the 73 Questions series produced by Vogue, Apra-IL presents a series of 20 questions to members and the board. We're excited for you to learn more about your leadership and fellow members in this series of 20 rapid-fire questions.
Kathryn is a proud representative of Wisconsin here on the APRA-IL board as Director of Membership & Marketing. She has worked at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association since 2015; first in Prospect Research and now as the Senior Prospect Identification Analyst focused on proactive identification. Previously, she worked as a corporate archivist and librarian.
1. What is the super power that you use often at work?
I have the ability to organize anything. When I worked as a corporate archivist, this came in the form of physically organizing hundreds of boxes of photos, videos, and other items. As a prospect identification analyst, that means organizing accessible data on a person and distilling it into 3-5 sentences to help a Development Officer understand their connection to our organization.
2. What is one thing Apra has done for you?
Apra has provided me a broad network of like-minded, talented professionals who I can call on when in need – whether that’s asking for recommendations on vendors or wondering how to deal with an interpersonal situation in the office.
3. If the annual Apra International conference could be anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be?
Oh man – that’s a tricky one. I’ve always wanted to visit Singapore (my college roommate grew up there) and finding the time to go by myself has been difficult. I’d love to have a work-related reason (and funding) to travel there!
4. How do you explain your role to people outside of Development?
I tend to tell people I work in fundraising. If they ask follow-up questions, I tell them I do research on our alumni and donors to help Development connect them with the right funding opportunities.
5. If you were not in Prospect Research, what career would you have?
I’d love to be a university or museum librarian – being surrounded by art is a lovely way to spend the day.
6. If you could tell your 15-year-old self about your job, what would you say?
I would tell her that her lifelong love of learning was going to come in very handy while tracking down the fifth-great-granddaughter of a UW alumnus for whom a building on campus was named!
7. Why did you join the Apra-Illinois board?
I joined the Apra-IL board to get more involved in the programming aspect of Apra. Because I’m our current webmaster, head of member e-mails, and czar of Apra-IL’s social media accounts, it’s been a fantastic learning opportunity. Before taking this role, I’d never tweeted, processed an online payment, or created an event banner. I’ve also had great fun working with Apra-IL members on our blog (hi there!). One of the most fun series was our horror stories about the field – head over and read those if you haven’t yet!
8. Why do you think Apra-Illinois and all of the local Apra chapters matter?
Local Apra chapters give us a place to speak to people doing our work in our region. This is helpful when it’s time to implement a new process (vendor recommendations, best practices) and also when it’s time to look for a new career opportunity (both through Apra-IL job postings and networking). Apra international serves a similar purpose, but on a broader scale.
9. What is your #1 productivity tip?
When you’re in the zone, stay there. When you’re not in the zone, give yourself a break and do something requiring less brain power. I get a lot of Apra-IL tasks completed while I’m distracted from my day-to-day work!
10. Best advice ever received?
I can’t say I’ve received a ton of advice, but one quote that I love comes from The Book of Joy in which the Dalai Lama quotes Viktor Frankl, “Our perspective toward life is our final and ultimate freedom.”
11. If you wrote a book about prospect development what would it be called?
"Finding the Impossible, Immediately"
12. If you wrote a memoir on your life, what would it be called?
I’m not sure anyone would read a book about my life! But I guess I’d call it "From Little House on the Prairie to a Life Unbound."
13. What book are you reading right now?
I just re-read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.
14. Currently, what is your favorite restaurant in your city?
Madison has lots of culinary variety. My favorite place is a Thai restaurant called Sa-Bai Thong that's about five minutes from work.
15. What is your favorite social platform to connect with people?
Though I’m in charge of Apra-IL’s Twitter account, I’m stuck firmly in the early 2000's and only really use Facebook to connect with people.
16. What is the last movie you watched?
I dove back into the 90s and watched Now and Then on Netflix.
17. If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
I’d love to have dinner with Charles Dickens. I had a real obsession with his writing when I was young and he seems like he was a character ... I might attempt to put a word limit on his side of the conversation, though!
18. What is your hobby?
I’m not really a hobby person. When I’m not a work, I like to read and re-watch The Office. I also love a good road trip.
19. Are you a texter or a caller?
Depends on the person. I’m typically a texter until we get onto a good topic and then I’ll give in and call.
20. Who or what inspires you?
I’m really inspired by people who manage to find the good in a bad situation. That isn’t a trait I find easy, so to meet and know people for whom this is second nature is fascinating to me.