Women of UGA’s mission is to foster a lifelong commitment to the University of Georgia by creating opportunities for personal and professional development, instilling a spirt of giving, and investing in the future of the university, its students and alumnae. We recently got the chance to interview Erica Gwyn (BSED ’00), fundraising chair for the Women of UGA Leadership Council in order to learn more about her experience at UGA and what drives her to stay involved with her alma mater. Here’s what she had to say!
What brought you to the University of Georgia, and what are you doing now?
I applied to, and was accepted at, several schools including Clemson and Auburn, but the HOPE Scholarship was an unprecedented program that made UGA both financially and educationally attainable. Actually, UGA was not my first choice, but I loved my time in Athens. I currently live in metro Atlanta where I own and operate two companies, The Nonprofit Guru, LLC – a non-profit fundraising consulting firm, and Kaleidoscope Kids Camp of GA, LLC – an out-of-school time program for youth in grades K-8.
You mentioned that your firm, The Nonprofit Guru, specializes in fundraising. What does your typical day look like, and what do you enjoy most about your work?
The Nonprofit Guru is truly a conglomerate of my 20-year career working in non-profits where we provide small shop organizations with the toolkit for enhancing their board governance procedures, retooling program design and evaluation methods, volunteer management best practices and grants/fundraising management and compliance strategies. A typical day currently involves my working with my team of tech consultants as we are set to roll out a series of webinar courses and group coaching activities to reach a broader community world-wide.
How do you think your career path will influence your capabilities as fundraising chair for Women of UGA Leadership Council?
Philanthropy was a skill that I learned as a student at UGA, so it feels very natural to volunteer my time with the Women of UGA Leadership Council. I believe that my given career path will allow for me to provide the leadership team with a foundation to develop fundraising guidelines with strategy to meet our overarching goals! I love to see the look on my peers’ faces when we all come together to accomplish our goals with intentional best practices.
What type of impact do you hope to have throughout your term?
This is a tough one for me as it is so early in my term, but my overarching goal is to be able to work with the team to fund multiple students with a scholarship during this term. We have already met and satisfied the goal of endowing the scholarship in record-breaking time, so for me the greatest impact would be bringing awareness to the endeavor through increased marketing and visibility to our UGA alumni, friends and supporters.
What do you value most about your time at Georgia?
What I value most about my time at UGA was the opportunity to explore my leadership skills and having a safe place to make mistakes and cultivate lifelong friendships that I cherish and maintain to this very day.
Many students feel uncertain about their future and choosing a career path – what advice would you offer to students about this?
I can honestly say that having the courage to explore my true career interests beyond what looked “best on paper” is what allowed me to find my true passion. For today’s student, I believe that there is still no greater lesson learned than through a hands-on approach (ie. internships, research, mistakes while working towards goals, etc.), and living in a different country for at least three months to gain a greater appreciation for cultural diversity.