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Develop Connections

January 11, 2021 Jim Warner

At the College of Business, building for tomorrow means investment from our community today. Alumni and friends of the College who contribute help sustain a legacy of opportunity — they help light the way for the best and brightest to achieve their professional aspirations.

Development teams build the bridge between our generous donors and the needs of our school. They honor the needs of both sides and are often the unsung point of contact between the College and our alumni base. This past December, Assistant Director of Development Brittany Key received the William J. Rothwell Development Award. This recognition is awarded to a frontline fundraising employee who has demonstrated outstanding service to the overall development effort this year.

A recent alum, Brittany also completed her UofL MBA, with distinction. We sat down with Brittany to discuss her award, earning the degree, and her experiences at the College of Business.

What does winning the Rothwell Award mean to you?

I have been in Advancement since April 2016, starting as an administrative assistant and have seen many winners of this award.  Knowing the work ethic, determination and grit of my colleagues that have previously won the Rothwell Award, winning this award is a great honor.   It also means to me that my hard work and determination of wanting to make a difference is being recognized by my peers and hopefully our alumni and volunteers.   Hearing and reading the nominating submissions of my colleagues is so touching and humbling that I only want to work harder and better for my team.  

You have also recently graduated with your MBA from UofL. Tell us a little bit about your experience earning the degree. How were you able to balance your career with the College and earning the MBA?

With previously earning a Master’s in Higher Education Administration while working full time with two small children, I knew there would be sacrifices on my end (mainly sleep) with starting the MBA program.  I also love a challenge and pushing myself to grow, learn and work towards the best version of myself.  I had only taken introductory accounting courses in my undergrad experience.  I wanted to be educated and competent about the business field since the main goal of my job is to engage and develop relationships with our business alums.  The only way that I was able to juggle both school and work was with the support of my husband.  There were many nights where he was the only parent on bedtime duty and weekends he would take our kids out of the house so I could get schoolwork accomplished. I would say the takeaway from this experience that has immediately impacted my work would be developing stronger connections with the faculty that taught in the program.  I had first class access to each professor with being in the building with them (pre-covid).  Also, I have been able to work closely with a couple of classmates to create a 2019 cohort endowment to remember a classmate that passed away during the fall semester.

One of the keys to success in development is building and maintaining relationships. How have you honed/developed these skills?

I believe my skills of listening, persistence, and the ability to take rejection has helped me in my success.  I am also a first generation college graduate and growing up, I watched my parents persevere with my dad working three jobs so they could provide for me and my sister.  I learned that to be successful in anything, grit and determination would have to be present.  My personality has always had these attributes but I would say being in Advancement and learning from other fundraisers what makes them successful, I have been able to take the skills I already exhibited and use them in a productive way.  And to be a fundraiser, you can’t take rejection personally, not everyone that I ask for support is going to say yes but I won’t know unless I ask!

During your time at UofL, who have you come to see as a mentor? 

I am very lucky to have many mentors. I can call anyone on the development team and be confident that I would receive great guidance and advice. Even though Joe Neary is my supervisor, I also consider him a mentor.  He took a chance on me to become a development officer, not knowing if I would succeed or fail because I didn’t have previous front line experience.  I’m very grateful for his leadership and willingness to continue to push me to grow professionally. 

What’s the most satisfying aspect of your work at the College?

The most satisfying aspect of my work is that what I do is making a difference in students’ lives.  Dean Mooradian likes to talk about passing the plate at church in regard to philanthropy.  I truly believe that I am part of a team that is passing the plate and am working every day to find those with the passion for the plate to pause in front of them and contribute.  

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