Debra Valentine –Gray, serves Indiana University of Pennsylvania as Regional Director of Advancement. Debra has extensive experience in the corporate and nonprofit areas, along with donor cultivation, stewardship and donor relations.
At IUP Debra oversees the university’s corporate and foundation relations along with its community outreach efforts in the Pittsburgh region.
Debra earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism/communications from Point Park College additionally she studied early childhood education at UCLA and California State University Dominguez Hills. She is an alumna of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Minority Advancement Institute. She has received a number of community service awards for efforts in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.
Debra’s interview was conducted by AADO member Kevan Turman.
What motivated you to become a development professional?
Like many of us in the profession, development choose me, I really backed into the field. I started in corporate America, did some special assignments, moved to the foundation side of the house, and never looked back. An opportunity presented its self to join a major nonprofit as a development officer and I fell in love with the mission.
What is the best advice that you have received related to your career?
There are really two that pieces that help keep me going:
Love what you do, be passionate about what you do, that way when the work is hard it’s not a heavy burden, it’s just a bit of a challenging lift.
Your career is like driving your car with a stick shift, you need to know when to shift gears.
What is the one quality every fundraiser should have?
Be observant and attentive, fund raising is about relationships and connecting with people. When you are with a donor be observant of their body language it will tell you what their words aren’t telling you.
Be attentive listen to them and don’t assume anything even after the gift, continue to be attentive and observant in the relationship. Take nothing for granted.
What is the legacy you wish to leave behind?
Wow, that’s one I’m struggling with but the most important thing to me is that I kept the door open so that others can walk in and that I helped them find their path. Each of us is standing on the shoulders of those who came before us and we owe it to them to keep moving forward.