AFPPBC’s Vanity Fair-like Proust Questionnaire with Vicki Pugh

What did you plan on doing career-wise?
I always have had a love for music and knew that I wanted to do something in the music industry. I became very interested in opera while I was in high school and pursued training to become an opera singer. In college, I spent a semester living and working (an an intern) in New York at the New York City Opera. I realized that the life of an opera singer was not for me. However, I loved the administrative side of the business. So I got to know all I could about the various departments that operate a thriving arts organization. Somehow I gravitated toward development. I think because those were the people who had so much fun!

What was your first job in fundraising?
My first volunteer fundraising job was assisting my Mom in collecting dimes for the March of Dimes. She was a neighborhood chair every year and would take me from door to door to ask people for dimes and contributions. I never really liked it that much, but I think that was because I was too young to really associate why my Mom did it for so many years. I was a premature baby! I weighed just over 3 pounds when I was born. It took many years before I realized that my Mom felt an obligation to help other families who had premies. The first fundraising job that provided me with a paycheck was for the New York City Opera. My internship at the New York City Opera led to a Development Assistant position. In that role, I worked with the Director of Corporate Gifts to do donor research, prepare solicitations and manage sponsorship fulfillment.

If you were speaking to someone new to the profession, what would your top 2 pieces of advice be?
Working at a university, I have many opportunities to coach students who are interested in careers in non-profit work. And, no matter what job you have with a non-profit, fundraising is an important skill to have. My first two pieces of advice are usually, 1) make sure your first job is with an established non-profit so you can learn best practices of a thriving organization and 2) Hard work and creativity pay off in this industry! You will be discouraged, you will go through hard times, but your work is important to many people who rely on you.

What’s your favorite part of fundraising?
My favorite part of fundraising is going to work every day and knowing and seeing how impactful my work is on other people. When someone says that they were only able to accomplish something greater because of funds or programs that were provided by an organization for which I have worked, that creates joy beyond measure.

Tell me a little bit about your work at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
At Palm Beach Atlantic University, I lead an incredibly talented team of 15 people who are responsible for raising funds, servicing parents, organizing special events, connecting with alumni, and marketing university programs, events and other activities. I work very closely with our president Bill Fleming, who has an incredible background in fundraising, to plan and implement campaigns for buildings, programs, scholarship and endowment.

What work activity do you most look forward to doing every day (or almost every day)?
I really love interacting with PBA students, and sharing their stories with donors. They are filled with promise and excitement for the future! I guess you could say, those of us who work with children and young adults often get to drink from the “fountain of youth” every day!

What are 3 things you’d like to share about yourself that have nothing at all to do with fundraising?
I still sing, but not opera any more. I sing with the band “Doctrine” at Holy Spirit Church almost every Sunday and love it. I have two amazing daughters, Ali (16) and Grace (10) and a cool husband, Tim, who I have been married to for 20 years. I completed my fifth and final ½ marathon this year, which was a goal I made for myself about five years ago