In the coming months, the NEDRA News blog will be highlighting some of our fantastic members in a series of interviews. Our first spotlight is on Cathy Kingery, who has held the title of Research Officer at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH since May, 2011. She came to the field with a writing and editing background.
Saint Anselm College
How did you get interested in Prospect Research and how did you enter the field?
In early 2008 I was laid off from my position as an editor/writer at a local book publishing company. After having no luck finding another permanent position in the publishing field, I decided to take a chance and apply for a prospect researcher opening at Saint Anselm College. I had a hunch that my strong sense of curiosity, attention to detail, writing skills, and persistence would make me a good fit, and these qualities have served me well in this position.
Can you describe your current office/position?
I am the sole researcher at Saint Anselm College, a small liberal arts school in Manchester, NH, with about 2,000 students. Our advancement/alumni relations office has 25 employees. I perform proactive and reactive research in support of the Senior Vice President for College Advancement, three major gift officers, and three annual fund officers. I also prepare event briefings and other materials for the college President, Board of Trustees, and other college executives.
How did you get involved with NEDRA and what has been your experience?
I attended my first NEDRA conference after just two weeks on the job. Much of the material presented at the sessions I attended that year went right over my head, since I was still so green. Despite this, everyone I encountered made me feel so welcome, and I was astounded by the wealth of knowledge they possessed and were so willing to share. I have regularly attended the NEDRA conference since then, and it is one of the highlights of my year. As a researcher in a one-person shop, the chance to spend two days among professionals who share my everyday work experiences is invaluable. It’s wonderful to be able to gain insight, ask questions, share frustrations, and exchange tips with colleagues in person.
How have things changed for you since you first entered prospect research?
When I started in my current position, many aspects of the job confused and, at times, overwhelmed me. (Estimating gift capacities and deciphering SEC documents are two that come to mind.) But, fortunately, these tasks come much easier to me today. That is largely due to the gracious tutoring I have received from my mentor, Dave Perkins, a longtime prospect researcher in higher education. His friendship, advice, insight, and encouragement have been a godsend.
What gives you a feeling of success and/or excitement in your work?
I enjoy discovering a promising constituent in our database about whom none of our gift officers were previously aware. It’s satisfying to think that this prospect might become an important donor in the future and that it all began with a research report that I prepared. Also, although it might be a bit of a cliché, it is gratifying to know that my work is helping to raise scholarship funds for deserving students who might otherwise not get a chance to receive a college education.
Any other thoughts?
My interactions with fellow prospect researchers—at NEDRA conferences, through e-mail exchanges, via phone calls, and through the PROSPCT-L listserve—always amaze and delight me. Our community is made up of such talented, intelligent, and helpful people! I am proud and honored to call myself a member of this wonderful group of professionals.
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