Member Story

Member Spotlight: Julie Garza

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Julie Garza

Julie Garza is a development manager at KIPP Texas Public Schools. In this Q&A she shares what lead her to a career in fundraising and her experience as an AFP emerging leader. 

How did you start your career in the fundraising profession and what lead you there? 
In 2014, I participated in the BP MS 150 for the National MS Society. The BP MS 150 is a fundraising event where participants ride 150 miles on their bike from Houston to Austin over the course of two days. I had such an amazing experience participating and fundraising that I wanted to work for the society to help with the planning and execution of the event. I applied consistently for about a year, and I finally got the opportunity to work there as the Walk MS Coordinator. 

Why did you apply for the (Emerging Leader or WII) mentor program? 
I decided to apply for the Emerging Leaders Program because I started to feel very lost in my career. I was unmotivated and I began to question if development was the right career for me. I had no clear direction about what my next steps would be. I am so glad I decided to apply because I never had someone so invested in my professional growth. Cherian Koshy is such a wonderful mentor! He re-inspired me and reminded me why I started my career in the nonprofit sector. I am so grateful to him and couldn't have been matched with a better mentor. 

What were the positive experiences that came out of your mentor/mentee relationship?
Cherian and I have had so many great conversations regarding diversity, equity and inclusion and fundraising. I had so many positive experiences, but what I enjoyed the most was collaborating with Cherian on our AFP Project. As fundraisers, we tend to focus on individuals with a high giving capacity. We wanted to learn what the full fundraising experience has been for donors from diverse backgrounds who are low- to mid-level donors. We decided to survey 700 individuals. I loved learning how to frame the questions for the survey, how to analyze the data, and how to write an executive summary. 

Describe a moment that surprised you or challenged you during the program. 
Writing is where I struggle. For the survey we conducted, I am responsible for writing the executive summary and that is extremely challenging. However, Cherian guided me every step of the way and has been so encouraging; he is making the writing process so enjoyable. He has helped me think outside of the box and keeps me motivated when I begin to doubt myself. 

How has AFP and the community (AFP Global and/or your chapter) helped you with your success? 
Everyone that I met from the Emerging Leaders Program has been magnificent! We all help and encourage one another. Some members from the community even shared fundraising campaign ideas to help me create fundraising strategies for donors in my portfolio. 

What is your dream job? 
My dream job would be to help lead the fundraising efforts for Charity Water. I traveled to Thailand a few years ago and volunteered at a small village. I witnessed how so many people in the villages did not have access to clean drinking water. I believe everyone in the world should have access to such a basic necessity and would love nothing more than to help Charity Water’s mission. 

Julie’s Favorites: 
•    Favorite book or podcast: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho 
•    Coffee or Tea: Coffee 
•    Morning person or Night owl: Night Owl
•    Last show you binge-watched: Uploaded
•    Favorite band/artist: Bad Bunny 

Julie Garza, a native Houstonian, received her B.A. in Communications from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2012. She has experience in planning and executing small and large fundraising events, conducting extensive donor research and peer-to-peer fundraising. Julie is passionate about humanitarian work, creating future leaders, and helping make the world a better place. Her favorite quote is by Margaret Mead that states: “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” In her spare time, Julie is a Bikini Bodybuilding competitor, and she likes to spend time with her family, attend Astros games, and explore the world as much as she can when possible. 

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