Member Story

AFP Member Spotlight: Kimberly Grady, MBM

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Kimberly Grady

AFP Member Spotlights are a recurring series of interviews with AFP members, highlighting the unique individuals and career paths that exist within the fundraising profession. If you know an inspiring fundraising professional who deserves to be featured, please email afpmarcom@afpglobal.org.

In this member spotlight, we interviewed Kimberly Grady, MBM, chief development officer at Bastion Community of Resilience. She shared with us how her parents instilled in her an early interest in philanthropy, leading her to pursue a career in nonprofits, serving communities facing domestic violence, homelessness, and rehabilitation. 

Q: How did you start your career in the fundraising profession and what led you there?
A: As a child, my parents taught me about fundraising. My father was on the San Diego Urban League Board of Directors. I remember attending board meetings with him as he discussed affirmative action issues and represented Rohr Industries, an aerospace manufacturing company which was a major employer in San Diego and a major donor for nonprofit organizations. My mother worked under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), a job training program for economically disadvantaged, unemployed, or underemployed individuals. I knew as a child the importance of philanthropy, and my parents instilled in me a desire to give back to our community through volunteerism, advocacy, or our own philanthropic efforts.

During college I worked in a pilot program as a domestic violence response team (DVRT). Then my first “real job” out of college was at Occupational Training Services (OTS), working with youth ages 17-24 on probation. I developed a strong relationship with the probation department, so when the organization underwent multiple internal changes, I submitted a grant application. It was accepted, providing $1M to continue the program for another 5 years. 

Once the OTS program came to an end, I returned to my domestic violence roots, as the director of the DVRT, where I had begun my career. I assisted in a capital campaign task force to build the first Family Justice Center in San Diego.

Afterwards, I returned to OTS, which had created a secondary nonprofit named San Diego Community Housing Corporation (SDCHC). This is a nonprofit focused on affordable housing and program services for low-to-moderate-income families. I was so fortunate to work with an amazing team and have the freedom to grow. This is where I think fundraising became my personal calling. It was a very entrepreneurial philosophy within the organization, which allowed me to flourish as a fundraiser. 

Q: When and why did you decide to become an AFP member?
A: I was first introduced to AFP by my past mentor, Karny Stefan. She is now retired, but when we met, she was the chief executive officer for Walden Family Services and was on the board of the AFP San Diego Chapter, where I lived at the time. Her mentorship during the early 2000’s was invaluable to me as she helped me hone my problem-solving skills and fundraising techniques. Decades later, I’m still using the advice she gave me on how to “make the ask”. 

While in San Diego, one of the foundations I was soliciting a gift from was also connected with the local AFP chapter and they generously covered the funds for me to attend my first AFP ICON conference. Once I returned from ICON, my organization saw the value of AFP, and we became members. I then served the AFP San Diego Chapter as the diversity chair for a few years. Fast forward to my husband receiving military orders to move to New Orleans; I knew right away I needed to build a professional network, and the AFP New Orleans Chapter was number one on my list. I attended a luncheon, and I immediately felt like I was dropped into a family of fundraisers, and I said to myself, “These are my people.”  

Q: Are you doing anything innovative at your organization (or a past organization) that you think other fundraisers could benefit from?
A: I am the chief development officer at Bastion Community of Resilience, located in New Orleans. We are the first in America to offer an intentional community for veterans and their families. My entrepreneurial fundraising spirit I learned early in my career serves me well at Bastion. We are in the middle of a capital campaign to build a $7M Veteran Wellness Center on our campus. The center will transform Bastion into a resource hub for New Orleans veterans and increase our capacity to serve them with an array of therapeutic modalities, treatment rooms, and a lecture space. City-wide, there are over 15,000 veterans living in New Orleans. In our current capacity we are only able to serve about 200 plus, so this new Veteran Wellness Center will greatly expand our capabilities. 

Q: What is your favorite word? (only one word) How has this word influenced or inspired your career?
A: Listen. “Every good conversation starts with a good listener.” I’m not sure who said this quote; however, listening to donors and program participants can provide a road map for your organizational needs and drive your fundraising efforts. Good listening skills provide both a person-and-donor-centered philosophical approach to fundraising.

Q: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I’m most proud of securing a $1M gift to support a financial education program for underserved communities living in affordable housing. The donor wanted us to cover the state of California, however my organization was city-wide, not statewide. So, I spoke with my CEO and board, and they were open to us broadening throughout the state, since I was already serving as a state representative for a coalition of affordable housing organizations, which meant I had an exciting network to tap into. I formed a partnership with banks like JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. I was then recognized by the Housing & Urban Development for building a successful partnership with corporations. 

Q: How has being an AFP member and participating in the AFP affinity groups benefited your career?
A: I love the New Orleans AFP Chapter. In 2024, I became the VP of IDEA, and I have enjoyed building out our committee and working on our strategic goals. I have also been a part of the African American affinity group through AFP Global. It’s been such an amazing group of fundraisers to share experiences with because they understand and have had similar challenges. 

Q: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the nonprofit fundraising profession today?
A: The philanthropic landscape is shifting, and nonprofits need to be more creative and evaluate their donor base. It is important to have an understanding of how different generations and demographics want to volunteer, be solicited, and make a gift. They all want to be solicited differently and make their gifts to an organization differently. Our profession needs to understand the new faces of philanthropy and be able to prepare your organization for these shifts.   

Q: What advice do you have for other fundraising professionals, or people interested in getting into the field?
A: Build your professional fundraising community, then have a sub-fundraising community where you have a mentor(s) and confidant(s) within your sub-group. This will serve as your trusted network of fundraisers.
 

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