Today's Spotlight: Pat Thompson, Manager of Prospect Research, Carleton CollegeLength of time in Prospect research
: 4 years
Length of time in APRA-MN
: 4 years
# yrs on the board
: 2nd year
Current Board role
: Co-Programming Director
1.)How did you first become involved with APRA-MN?
When I arrived at Carleton in the middle of 2011, becoming a member of APRA-MN and signing up for the APRA International conference in Austin, TX was near the top of my task list. I was lucky to have a ton of support from my boss, Mark Egge, to seek out professional development opportunities and to meet other people in our field.
It wasn't until a year or so later that Jodi Kohrs pulled me aside at an APRA-MN event and encouraged me to volunteer. She connected me to the programming committee and I've been hooked ever since.
2.)How did you discover Prospect Research?
Like a lot of people, I fell into Prospect Research. My friend Janna Holm, who has since gone to work in Prospect Management at Johns Hopkins, knew some researchers and thought the role would suit my skill set. I had been looking at jobs in the non-profit sector and hadn't discovered Research until she offered to set up an informational interview with a contact she had at Carleton. Not long after, I was lucky enough to land an interview and somehow convinced Mark to take a gamble on someone new to the field.
(Janna will also take credit for introducing me to my wife, but that's a story for another day.)
3.)Do you have a favorite Speaker or Session from an APRA conference?
One of my first APRA-MN memories was a session with Christina Pulawski who really amazed me at her depth of knowledge and her sense of humor. I also enjoyed our conference with Chris Pipkins and Lisa Howley, especially the panel at the end of the day where Chris proved to be a particularly gifted moderator.
For APRA International, I remember being in awe at a panel I attended with Josh Birkholz, Peter Wylie and Marianne Pelletier which was a lot of fun, but the memory that sticks with me the most was a session with Karen Greene who struck me as incredibly wise. Her sense that we almost automatically try to improve a system or a process whenever we encounter a problem, rather than asking if the problem requires a change in our management style or in how we train people, is something that I still think about today.
4.)What would we be surprised to learn about you?
If I had a nickel for every time I've read a Harry Potter book... then my Alma mater would be asking me for a lot more money.
5.)My most proud Prospect Research moment is...
Not too long ago, I had a gift officer approach me about a prospect who had raised their hand by making a significant increase to their annual gift. Given their age and career, it seemed out of place to make a gift of that size. So after hours of following breadcrumbs through real estate records, an old CV, and even Wikipedia, I was able to string together enough facts to indicate she had married into a very wealthy family on the Forbes list. It was a little scary to go out on a limb and suggest that her extended family would be considered one of the wealthiest families we have a connection to, but having my suspicions confirmed after seeing holiday pictures with our alum and the family patriarch together was particularly gratifying.
6.)How would you encourage someone to become a part of the APRA-MN board?
Serving on the board for any group will help you grow professionally. Not only will you meet other smart, motivated people in your field, but you'll gain experience making high level decisions that you wouldn't necessarily get at your job. Applying those experiences to APRA-MN, will only intensify the value you gain as a researcher through added perspective into our field.
7.)I would like the members to know APRA-MN is...
a great place to learn from each other. This might be the most under appreciated benefit of coming to APRA-MN events. I'm always amazed when I meet another researcher and learn that their department tackles a development problem completely differently than I do. Meeting other researchers at APRA-MN events expands how I think about research and my department is stronger because of my involvement.