AFP Board Member Spotlight: Juliana M. Weissbein, CFRE
In honoring the outgoing board members of 2023, we invited them to reflect on their memorable experiences as AFP volunteers and impart valuable advice for our incoming leaders.
In our spotlight on outgoing board member Juliana M. Weissbein, CFRE, associate director of development operations at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she illuminates her journey from attending young professional gatherings at the NYC chapter to ascending to the AFP Global board. Along this remarkable path, Juliana passionately advocated for queer and women's causes, leaving an indelible mark on the Association.
Q: When and why did you decide to become an AFP member and how did you become a volunteer?
A: In 2017, my journey with AFP commenced, marking a pivotal moment in my professional growth. Having already dedicated seven years to fundraising, I sought avenues to expand my network and broaden my skill set. It was through an invitation from a friend to attend AFP-NYC Young Professionals Committee events (now known as the Emerging Leaders Committee) that I instantly felt a sense of belonging. Soon after, I was honored with the invitation to chair the committee—an opportunity that would significantly influence the trajectory of my career over the subsequent seven years.
My engagement with AFP Global intensified in 2019, a year that proved instrumental in reigniting my passion for professional development and innovation within the fundraising sector. Receiving the AFP Outstanding Young Professional Award and attending AFP ICON for the first time revitalized my enthusiasm for growth and advancement within the field.
The year 2020 brought new dimensions to my involvement as I assumed roles on both the AFP-NYC Board of Directors and the AFP Global Women’s Impact Initiative Committee. This milestone year also marked a decade in the fundraising profession, an occasion I commemorated by authoring an article for Advancing Philanthropy, reflecting on the invaluable lessons learned during my first ten years in fundraising.
The pinnacle of my AFP journey arrived in 2022 when I embarked on a two-year term on the AFP Global Board. This role presented remarkable opportunities, including speaking engagements on the main stage at AFP ICON, conducting seminars for our members, and, most notably, participating in my inaugural AFP LEAD experience—an immensely exciting and enriching endeavor.
Q: You mentioned changing the name of the NYC Young Professionals Committee to the Emerging Leaders Committee. Why was that name change so important?
A: Using "emerging leader" instead of "young professional" broadened inclusivity and encompassed potential leaders at various career stages beyond age boundaries. It shifted the focus from a specific demographic to a more comprehensive view of leadership potential, fostering a diverse pool of talent and perspectives. Embracing "emerging leader" emphasized growth, development, and the readiness for future leadership roles, promoting a culture of continuous learning and advancement.
Q: Do you have any advice for emerging leaders interested in developing their career?
A: It is paramount to seek out quality mentors early on. Each of your mentors should serve a different purpose and bring a different strength. It is important to form relationships with those who will not only be your biggest champion but who will also challenge you when you need an extra push or coaching through critical thinking exercises.
Another way to continue growing your career is to pursue professional development opportunities that will distinguish you from your peers and prove that you are a dedicated, well-rounded, and competent fundraiser. Examples include attaining your CFRE credential, starting a fundraising blog, presenting at conferences, contributing to the advancement of our profession by volunteering with AFP, or pursuing a master’s degree in fundraising or nonprofit management. Each of these avenues not only enriches your skill set but also contributes significantly to the advancement of our profession.
Q: What is an accomplishment during your time on the board that you’re proud of?
A: In 2023 I had the pleasure of hosting the webinar, "Don't Just Slap A Flag On It And Call It Inclusive: Understanding Your Queer Donors And Community" alongside the incomparable Jonathan Meagher-Zayas and T. Clay Buck. We covered a topic near to my heart as a Queer Femme who has dedicated my career to working at progressive causes which directly impact my communities.
Our session explored how fundraisers can navigate beyond superficial gestures of support, steering clear of performative allyship. We delved into the crucial distinction between genuine advocacy and surface-level actions that merely serve to enhance an organization's brand image, without effecting substantial and meaningful change within marginalized communities.
Q: What’s next for you as you transition off the AFP Global Board?
A: After serving seven impactful years in leadership, the year 2024 signals a time for me to gracefully step back. Since 2017, life has undergone profound transformations. Moving from NYC to Houston and embracing full-time remote work have reshaped my perspectives and priorities. As I navigate these changes, stepping back temporarily from my role at AFP becomes a conscious choice, allowing for the infusion of fresh leadership within the Association and a deeper commitment to nurturing my family and friendships.
My dedication to the Association remains steadfast, yet acknowledging my limits, I realize the importance of prioritizing my personal life at this juncture. This transition isn't a farewell; it's a heartfelt 'see you later' to my cherished AFP family. Rest assured, my connection to this community and its goals remains unwavering, and I eagerly anticipate reconnecting down the road. Thank you to each and every one of you I have met along the way. You have made this journey truly unforgettable!