Our new development director, Suzie Convery joined us in May, bringing with her decades of development and marketing experience. Already, her leadership and innovation have catalyzed some exciting changes within our organization. Suzie is a joy to work with and we are so excited to have her on board. Continue reading to learn more about Suzie’s career, thoughts on development work, and what she is most looking forward to at Rose.
You’ve worked in development pretty much your entire career. What do you like most about development work? What advice would you have for somebody starting out in the field?
I started my career in grant writing because I loved the puzzle of bending language to make a compelling argument for an organization’s work. It’s interesting to get inside of the words used to describe a particular nonprofit program, and whether those words reflect the values of the organization AND provide clarity about what the program does.
Because my entry point into fundraising began with grant writing, I have a bias toward that, of course! I enjoy looking at the arc of an organization’s history, describing in detail a program’s methodology and impact, or writing a concise headline for an individual giving campaign. It’s all a welcome challenge!
It’s a very exciting time to get into the field! Working remotely has shifted the way in which we raise money and has prompted many organizations to develop fluency with a variety of tech platforms to steward donors, communicate effectively, and to make giving feel more directly connected to the organization’s mission. There is also a lot of interest in creating better pipelines for BIPOC development personnel across all nonprofit sectors. That kind of diversity in development teams produces, not surprisingly, more thoughtful, creative, mission-driven campaigns and better overall revenue results. I’m excited to add to the Rose Foundation’s progress in these arenas in the coming months.
You have led development efforts at all sorts of notable nonprofits in the western United States, and you’re at a stage in your career where you can pretty much pick what you want to do next. What made the Development Director at the Rose Foundation the right choice for you?
I’ve always been personally interested in environmental issues, particularly the intersection of water and environmental justice. I was born and raised on the East Coast and when I moved out west, initially to New Mexico, I fell in love with the beauty and expansiveness of the desert. Working in Native American communities throughout the Southwest was an education for me, both culturally and environmentally, and many of the lessons learned there continue to resonate with me to this day.
The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment is the perfect environment for me to marry my development and marketing experience with my interests in the environment. It is thrilling and humbling to have a front row seat to watch our successful model reshape communities and nurture the next generation of environmental leadership.
You live in LA, but here you are starting your latest career chapter with a Bay Area-based group. What’s that like?
My current hybrid work environment is familiar. I spent over two decades working as a consultant from my home office and like many, had the privilege of working from home the past few years of the pandemic. That said it’s always delightful to visit Rose’s home office in Oakland, attend in-person meetings or events, and see my colleagues face-to-face. As Rose builds upon its work in northern California and Puget Sound and expands southward, I look forward to meeting more grantees, stakeholders and donors in the Los Angeles basin.
You have been with Rose for about a month now. What are you enjoying or looking forward to most in this position? What program detail or piece of history that you have learned about so far has surprised you about Rose?
As I learn more about the field, I’m surprised that Rose’s funding and service model is as rare as it is. Grassroots groups, especially those in disempowered communities, are a necessary catalyst for change, and alliances between people on the front lines and larger institutions is the glue for lasting and sustainable, environmental solutions.
I’m looking forward to the Rose Foundation virtual Film Festival this fall, beginning with a kickoff event in Oakland on Thursday, September 15. The festival features shorts from a number of our grantees, and other films that celebrate grassroots advocacy work and victories.
I’ve been very lucky over my career to work with extraordinary people whose commitment to social justice has been deeply inspiring. The Rose Foundation has really elevated that experience to a new level. I’m humbled by what Tim and Jill have built—our 30th anniversary is next year–and awestruck by the vision of the program team, Jodene, Nancy, Aurora and Mykela. We couldn’t do any of it without strong infrastructure, and Operations, Finance and Development play a critical role in safeguarding our mission. Everyone, including our outstanding board members and Chair Alan Ramo, have an abiding commitment to environmental justice.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
Our family has a Brittany/German Shorthaired Pointer who loves to run and we indulge her in as much time outside as possible! In addition, we take advantage of local hiking and try to get to Point Reyes for an extended period once a year. There’s never enough time it seems!