Recognition given by Elaine Vradenburgh at the annual picnic in July
I met Mary five years ago at one of the first DRC meetings I attended shortly after I was hired. Our database vendor was introducing our new donor database to a small group of staff and volunteers. Mary was a new volunteer and was eager to use her background and skills in nonprofit development and database administration to help us take this big technological leap. Little did she know at that time that she would ‘co’ facilitate a project that has helped us to raise a little over $700,000 in the past five years.
We, at the DRC, share a strong value of collaboration. We practice this value every day at the mediation table, when we invite people to sit across from each other to find a path through conflict together, and by providing ‘co’ facilitators for that process. Our value of collaboration, and by extension the ‘co’ model, acknowledges and normalizes that no one person has all the answers, tools or skills to tackle every problem. And, it celebrates the power and promise of community.
Mary embodied this value of collaboration by bringing the ‘co’ model to her database work. It was rare to see her without another person at the computer trouble shooting the latest issue or building a new function or producing a report. Thank goodness, for me, that Mary embraced the ‘co’ model from day one! You see, in the fundraising world, donor databases serve as both the memory and the party planning part of the organization’s brain. I happen to have a brain that is equal parts savvy and impatient when it comes to such technology. I love to be efficient and organized. Yet I absolutely hate to read instruction manuals and troubleshoot when technology isn’t working. In true DRC style Mary gave strength-based feedback and celebrated with me when I figured something out on my own. She was always there to problem-solve and to share her expertise. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t have been able to do my job without Mary by my side.
One of Mary’s many skills is an incredible ability to connect the details to the big picture. I notice and value this skill because it is essential for good fundraising. She quickly and masterfully understood how small adjustments to our systems of tracking data would enhance relationships and build our mission. Those “small adjustments” however, sometimes took months to operationalize in the imperfect product we inherited. Mary’s tireless dedication to this singular project was utterly impressive. She, alongside fellow volunteers Bonnie Rose, Kitty Parker, and Pauline Houx, have spent hundreds of hours trouble shooting, repairing, refining and building outputs that help me do my job better and strengthen the organization.
I can’t think of a more fitting time to recognize Mary. Mary’s most recent accomplishment has been in helping us transition to our next database iteration. Again, in the ‘co’ model, she worked with other database volunteers to research new products and to prepare our data for the transition. It was a huge step and we’re excited to see where this new software will take us!
Mary has been a gift to our organization. We cannot thank her enough for the hours and hours and hours she has poured into this project.
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