Name: Ann Willingham
What do/did you do for a living? I’m employed by the YMCA of the USA in the CEO Search Department. I recruit executives for local YMCAs across the country who are in leadership transition. I recruit for Ys with budgets as small as $500K to large Y associations with budgets upwards of $64M.
How did you get involved with the Museum? Prior to working in the nonprofit sector I wanted to make an impact in my community. I researched local nonprofits and discovered The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn. I called the Executive Director and shared my skill set and desire to serve on the Board. After meeting with him and the board president, the vetting began.
What is your volunteer position with the Museum? My first two years on the Board I served on the Gala Committee, the Museum’s largest annual fundraiser. It was a great way for me to meet so many tremendous volunteers who work behind the scenes. I also became aware of donors who generously give to the Museum.
I proposed to the Board a Princess Ball as a new fundraising event, and it was approved. I chaired the Princess Ball the first year and have supported it all three years as a Fairy Godmother sponsoring special princesses who would not have otherwise been able to experience a night of royalty.
I get to use my HR skills by consulting with the executive director, as needed, on personnel policies and issues. I updated the employee handbook.
Serving on the Strategic Planning Committee the last two years has given me the opportunity to strengthen the recruitment process for new members and update executive board member job descriptions. I’m also charged with developing a formal orientation program for new board members.
The last 18 months of my five-year tenure I’ve served on the Executive Board as Secretary. I’m primarily responsible for documenting Board business and distributing minutes to Board Members.
What do you like best about your volunteer position with the Museum? I enjoy serving on the Strategic Planning Committee. It’s an honor to be directly involved in shaping the Museum’s future, positioning it to have a competitive advantage, and ensuring it’s financial strength.
What is the most rewarding part of volunteering with the Museum? Volunteering is most rewarding when I’m able to make time to go to the Museum during its busiest time and blend in as a visitor. I walk around and observe parents interacting with children. The excitement of discovery on a small child’s face is priceless. Overhearing grandparents rave about what a great place the Museum is to take the grandchildren is a close second. I frequently see a child kicking and screaming on the way out not ready to leave.
How has your volunteer position benefited your life, career, etc.? Recruiting leaders for nonprofit organizations for a living and working very closely with the Museum’s Executive Director in a volunteer capacity are actually very complementary. On my job I listen to what board members, staff, and stakeholders seek in their next leader. They want a leader whose characteristics mirror what we already have in the Museum’s Executive Director. The Museum is fortunate to have a leader who is highly visible in the community advocating its mission. He’s a leader who understands the importance of developing staff, building a diverse board, and building a culture of inclusion. Our Executive Director is collaborative, fiscally savvy, connected to the philanthropic community. He has a vision. He’s strategic and passionate about the Museum. I often use him as my own personal standard when interviewing candidates by asking myself, “What would Adam’s response have been? How would Adam have handled the situation?”
Events that you have worked: The Princess Ball, Gala, Casino Night, and Fall Fun Fest are some of the events I have worked. I’ve also staffed booths. I’ve also volunteered to represent the Museum by working booths offsite.
Most memorable/favorite event: My favorite event is our Princess Ball, a father-daughter dance. It’s such a bonding experience with many precious moments that tug at your heart. It is dad’s night out with his adorable little girl or girls. In addition to dancing, fathers and daughters dine and participate in fun activities together.
What Museum event or program are you most looking forward to? I am most looking forward to the Princess Ball held December 2014. (I can’t help it. It’s my baby.) It’s like a fashion show of little princesses walking the runway holding daddy’s hand. The dresses are absolutely amazing. I know that behind every beautifully dressed princess is a mom who put thought in to her little girl’s dress, shoes, hair, and sometimes even makeup (smile). Proud dads take pictures/videos with their phones to share some of the most precious moments with moms.
Fun Fact About You: I’m a non-singer songwriter.