Julissa White

Director for the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation and The Herndon Home Museum

Julissa White-Smith is the Director for the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation and The Herndon Home Museum. Julissa has a B.A. in Integrated Marketing Communication and obtained a Master of Public Administration with a focus on Nonprofit Management from Georgia State University. Joining the Herndon Foundation in 2016, Julissa is responsible for the overall management of The Herndon Foundation, its programs, staff, and physical plant. She manages the acquisition, care and exhibition of the Herndon Home Museum collection and other museum materials.

How did you get interested in the fundraising profession?

Julissa became interested in the fundraising profession once matching her passion for packaging compelling community stories with her experience in new business development. For her, leading the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation has brought with it the opportunity to inspire, collaborate, and serve. She is a natural and professional storyteller and adapting this skill to the fundraising profession has brought forth new and built upon the connection of historic institutions like the Herndon Home to everyday people. The Fundraising profession has been a celebrated cross section of her passion, skills-set, and purpose.

What is something you wish you knew early on in your fundraising career?

Listen to your instincts is the primary advice that Julissa would have given her previous self. In her experience as someone new into the field and lacking confidence she found It common to abandon her inner voice and defer to those she viewed as “more together” or “more capable” than she saw herself. “Checking ideas against your supervisors or a trusted colleague aside, I wish I knew to tell myself to listen to and value my own common-sense solutions.” Since the early time of her career she has developed the affirmation, “My plans and process are valuable” in an effort to keep this lesson close to her heart.

What is the one quality every fundraiser should have?

Graciousness. Wherever Julissa finds herself throughout her career she has strived to most courteous, tactful and hospitable. She recalls professionals across industry that have long earned her respect by being gracious in their failings and victories. Expecting professionally, she will experience a share of both wins and losses, Julissa tells us that failing graciously translates into time to reflect, acting with integrity, and maintaining a sense of gratitude. Things she has not come to regret bringing into practice.

What inspires you about the fundraising profession?

Inspired by the themes of education and collaboration and viewing these principles as the underpinning framework of fundraising, Julissa views resource development one of the most fun and exciting parts of serving the Herndon Foundation. Describing storytelling as a role in educating people on the importance of an issue in their environment, Julissa views fundraising as the same; with fundraising offering the added benefit of working with others to engage with the issues.  

How do you want to be remembered as a professional?

Julissa would like to be remembered as a community-based leader with the ability to improvise with the tools made available, adapt her skills and talents to any challenge and overcome adversity with a gracious spirit.


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