Murray State University’s Nonprofit Leadership Studies (NLS) graduates were recently asked to reflect on their career journeys, the impact of their work, and their aspirations for the future. A series of eight very interesting stories have emerged and will be shared in the months to come. The stories will be presented with the title “Your Story and Impact” and introduce the reader to amazing nonprofit sector leaders who are pursuing their commitments to making the world a better place for us all.
In part four, let us look at the wonderful journey of Lucy Love, who graduated in May of 2011 from Murray State with a Bachelor of Arts with a Liberal Arts major in International Affairs, Journalism, and Multicultural Class & Gender Studies and a minor in Nonprofit Leadership Studies. She returned to receive her Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership Studies in 2019. Lucy lives in Louisville, Kentucky where she serves as the Director of Mission Advancement with Jewish Family & Career Services. She is responsible for all activities related to development, fundraising, and branding, marketing, and communications. Jewish Family & Career Services expands possibilities for each person and every family to meet life’s challenges with confidence. They are guided by “Jewish values to ensure all in Greater Louisville live with dignity and purpose. Our core service areas include Career Services, Counseling Services, Family Strengthening, Jewish Life, Klein Older Adult Services, and the Navigate Enterprise Center”.
Long: How did the NLS Program helped guide, inspire, and support you?
Love: As an undergraduate, the NLS Program provided me the basic knowledge and experience to explore careers in my interest in fundraising. My time at Murray State and the mentorship I received from the faculty gave me the confidence I needed when looking for the “right fit” for my career and my first professional position in development. From there, my love of Murray State brought me back to campus serve as the director of development for the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and Honors College. This also allowed me to pursue a M.S. in Nonprofit Leadership Studies. Throughout programs of study, it was the real-world service learning projects that are integrated into the curricula that helped build my confidence and experience to be ready on day one for each professional position I have undertaken. As just one example, the fund development course included fundraising for local nonprofits and the grantmaking activities of the Giving Back Endowment which increased critical skills for my chosen profession. The NLS Program connects students with active nonprofit professionals in a variety of ways to provide connections to quality practice and strengthen students’ networks. The support it provides is invaluable. I am now a part of a large and growing professional network that started with my first NLS class many years ago and continues today.
Long: Tell us about the work you are doing today. How has your degree helped advance your career?
Love: In my role as the major gift officer for the two colleges at Murray State, I was responsible for all of the fundraising activities and initiatives including goal setting, prospect identification and qualification, event planning, and strategic communication. The combination of applied education and professional experience prepared me for my current position.
Previously, I served another higher education institution as Information Services Coordinator. In that role I was responsible for grant writing, the administration of their annual giving program (retention, billing, stewardship), as well as direct mail and end of year giving campaigns and annual foundation reporting. Prior to that, I served as Alumni and Development Technician for the same institution and was responsible for prospect research, gift processing, and database management.
The NLS Program both prepared me for these first professional positions and allowed me to put what I learned into action with confidence and successful outcomes. The positive results in each position helped prepare me for the next opportunity. My graduate studies in the NLS Program complemented my work as a Murray State Director of Development and prepared me for my new position as Director of Mission Advancement with Jewish Family & Career Services in Louisville, Kentucky. I am dedicated to continuing to champion the Murray State NLS Program by staying connected and supporting students and recent graduates in any way I can.
Long: Describe some of your biggest accomplishments, related to nonprofit leadership since graduation.
Love: I believe my biggest accomplishments have been translating my skills learned while earning my degree into positions within higher education fundraising. Specific success in my career includes significant major gift fundraising and grant writing success in support of higher education initiatives. I know that the set of development positions I have held and my two M.S. degrees were essential in preparing me for my new opportunity with Jewish Family & Career Services, where I will be a part of the leadership team that advances the mission to “expand possibilities for each person and every family to meet life’s challenges with confidence. We are guided by our Jewish values to ensure all in Greater Louisville live with dignity and purpose.”
Long: What sort of impact has your work had in the community?
Love: Since beginning my career in the nonprofit industry I have been able to align donor interests with needs of the universities for which I have worked, resulting in scholarship dollars for students, funds for capital and construction projects, etc. This role enables me to give back to the campus and the community while also interacting with students in a meaningful way. I have two favorite parts of my job – the first is traveling to alumni and donors to share with them our successes and to hear their stories about their time on campus. The second is working with students in various degree programs to identify opportunities and promote their learning. On occasion I guest lecture in the NLS department and am able to provide advice and information to students in the program (and outside it!) about the nonprofit world. I am very excited about the opportunity to apply these commitments and experiences in my role with Jewish Family & Career Services and the people and communities it serves.
Long: What do you aspire to do in the future?
Love: I hope to continue learning and growing as a nonprofit professional providing strategic vision to the organizations I work for and developing the strengths and talents of my colleagues and team. I want to be a positive resource in service to the mission of making the community a better place to live and thrive.
“The NLS program is honored to include Lucy among its alumni and proud of the impact that she is having through her impressive career,” said Long. “She brings a generous spirit to everything she does, from the powerful impact of her professional endeavors to the mentoring she does for students and colleagues. She offers a remarkable example of creative and innovative leadership for the nonprofit sector. The future of the sector is secure with people like Lucy leading the way. We look forward to sharing additional alumni stories going forward.”
The Nonprofit Leadership Studies Program is a part of the Department of Organizational Communication and Leadership which is dedicated to “develop student competence in the application and synthesis of those communication processes, theories and skills that enable individuals and groups to organize effectively in an increasingly complex and global society.” As a part of the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business, the department and program are committed to advancing careers in dynamic environments of leadership and management.