Alumni: Where Are They Now? with Erin Waas

Posted May 27, 2022

We recently caught up with former employee Erin to discover what she's been up to since leaving the firm!

What was your role while at Development Guild?

Erin Waas

Erin Waas

I began as an assistant to Victoria Jones, who was a principal at the time. I gained so much knowledge working alongside her on fundraising assessments, campaign planning and counsel, and executive search projects. Eventually I was promoted to a coordinator, then consultant leading searches and providing onsite counsel, and finally to the role of fundraising practice manager, where I worked to gather knowledge and tools from projects across the firm to ensure we were all sharing best practices and innovations.

What did you take away from your time here that has served you well in your career?

Managing multiple clients – and multiple projects for each of those clients – provided invaluable experience about how to structure my time. I learned to set personal/internal deadlines and hold myself accountable to meet those deadlines. When working with clients, it was always important to ensure that each client felt you were responsive and attentive. Each role that I’ve taken since my time at Development Guild has been complex and I’ve found ways to incorporate that “client-serving” mentality to the projects that I work on to help me prioritize tasks and structure my days.

What have you been up to since leaving?

Erin waas her husband and two young boysAt Development Guild, I really honed my communications and writing skills when working on materials from cases for support to position announcements. Since departing, I served as the senior associate director for University Donor Relations at Harvard University, where I managed a team of six individuals responsible for the president’s communications with donors and oversaw donor recognition and the annual report as part of the University’s multi-billion-dollar The Harvard Campaign. When my family relocated to Buffalo, I joined the University at Buffalo’s advancement team as its senior advancement writer, developing fundraising materials such as university-wide and school-specific cases and donor proposals as part of the university’s billion dollar Boldly Buffalo campaign. Recently, I was recruited to become the executive director of The Milestone Foundation, a nonprofit that provides financial support to individuals and families undergoing civil litigation.

In my personal life, since leaving the firm, I got married, beat breast cancer, had two children and moved to Buffalo. It’s been a busy decade!

Tell us more about your current role.

We’re the only nonprofit of its kind – we provide low interest, non-recourse advances to plaintiffs facing financial hardships as they pursue justice for injuries caused by such incidents as exposure to chemicals, sexual abuse, car accidents, and corporate negligence. The pre-settlement loan industry is known for charging predatory interest rates for these families who are struggling to see their cases through to justice. As a nonprofit, we provide an alternative for these individuals to be able to provide for their families while ensuring that we are not taking advantage of them financially. I was brought on not only to help grow our fundraising results, but also to raise awareness of our program and expand our reach by serving even more plaintiffs, and, hopefully, inspiring others to join us in redefining this type of funding.

What is your fondest memory from your time at Development Guild?

I often tell people that I “grew up” at Development Guild – I joined at the same time as a cohort of young, talented staff who looked forward to making a difference, and I gained the skills that set me up for success throughout my career. The friendships I developed while working there have endured – in fact, I have monthly calls with Erica (Friedman) Remi and Jenn (Musso) Kelly where we talk about the challenges and opportunities of working for nonprofits while raising our families. The connections I made during my time at Development Guild have been invaluable both personally and professionally.

Do you have any advice you would like to give to incoming employees?

I would advise anyone joining Development Guild to push yourself beyond your comfort zone in your projects. The firm is filled with so many bright, talented individuals who have experience in all facets of fundraising and organizational design and are more than willing to share that expertise! I’m grateful for my time at Development Guild and continue to draw on my experiences there to this day.

If you’re interested in becoming a part of the Development Guild team, you can explore our current openings here: Join Us.