March 2020 Student Spotlight
March Student Spotlight with Lauren Braun, Executive MPA ‘20
Deputy Director of Leadership Giving at Baruch College, Lauren Braun recalls unexpected professional challenges, and tells us what drives her passion for nonprofits and fundraising in this month’s student spotlight.
What steered you toward nonprofits and fundraising?
I was inspired to pursue fundraising as a profession because it has always given me a great feeling of fulfillment to be able to support meaningful causes. I also really like the fact that I not only get to work to support deserving people and programs, but to work and build relationships with a large cross-section of people. I have found that fellow development professionals share a real passion for giving and their energy is contagious. Additionally, I feel particularly privileged to get to work on a daily basis with donors because I get to witness the best side of humanity – people’s generosity and compassion. It also gives me great pleasure to speak with and steward new donors because it gives me the opportunity to introduce them to the well-deserved satisfaction that one feels when making purposeful and meaningful contributions to a worthy cause.
And what steered you toward Baruch?
In 2016, I joined the great Baruch College team. I admire Baruch’s mission and feel fortunate to be in a position to help it open and widen possibilities for students to pursue a university education in an era when a great many individuals who come from modest financial backgrounds are unable to access post-secondary education or face massive and intractable financial indebtedness. Thanks to Baruch’s donors’ understanding of the importance of “paying it forward” – led by Bernard Baruch’s giving philosophy – I believe we are on our way to achieving these vital societal goals.
I am both encouraged and inspired by the Executive MPA program’s promise to better prepare students for leadership positions in their field and to help address what is a growing shortage of non-profit executives with advanced training. I wish to apply the outstanding education I am receiving to the mission and vision of Baruch, as well as to my various roles as a non-profit volunteer and board member.
What are some of the most unexpected challenges you’ve faced thus far in your career?
Over my ten years of experience as a development professional, it has become apparent that the greatest challenges of this line of work are also the most attractive and rewarding. I feel fortunate to have worked with mentors and role models in the field, as well as in the many facets of fundraising, including in event management, grant writing, corporate sponsorship, government relations, and annual and major giving. These elements each required particular skills and abilities, all of which I believe are being enhanced by the EMPA program overall.
What about some of your greatest achievements?
While I am proud that my efforts have been recognized and have resulted in the generation of funds for the various institutions where I have worked, the ultimate achievement is the impact that these funds have made thanks to donors: scholarship support has, for example, meaningfully changed lives.
Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Tell us how you’ve been balancing family life alongside your Executive MPA experience at the Marxe School.
Thank you! My husband and I are extremely thrilled to have welcomed our first child last month – a beautiful daughter — now the youngest (honorary) member of the Marxe School! While I prepared as much as possible for balancing school with the natural and happy challenges of motherhood, my career and board position, and having family living outside of the U.S., the EMPA program has sought to make the transition more manageable. Indeed, the morning after returning home from delivering our newborn, I was able to attend class remotely and continue to pursue my EMPA without disruption – a testament to the Program’s steadfast commitment to its students’ success and academic rigor. I am also most grateful to my classmates for their support and encouragement throughout this process.