Bobbi recharges by camping on the North Shore of Lake Superior
Tell us a little about your background and why it led you to Children’s HeartLink.
My background is in meeting, conference and exhibit hall planning, along with producing fundraising walks and galas. Before Children’s HeartLink, I worked at two other nonprofit organizations and was also contracted by several foundations to produce conferences, some of them international. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love to do at Children’s HeartLink, with the team of people here, and for my efforts to contribute to saving children’s lives.
What motivates you?
I have a bit of a competitive spirit, and a saying that motivates me is “you’re only as good as your last event!”
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
For most rewarding, two things: having stellar creative partners when planning an event and, at the risk of sounding dramatic, witnessing a successful event unfold before my eyes that so many of us have worked hard on for many months. I’m so proud of the staff and leadership at Children’s HeartLink who contribute, and I like to see them have a good time during the event. I equate it to a Thanksgiving dinner – a lot of prep, but it better be hot all at once on the table! When all is said and done, if we’ve raised money for the work we do and our guests are happy, I’m happy! There aren’t many organizations, especially small ones like ours, that put on such a large and ambitious fundraising gala. That’s a big achievement for us and a point of pride.
Ok, three most rewarding things: If I secure an awesome auction item for the gala, it’s a pretty good feeling!
Most challenging: Being innovative and thinking of the next best thing. There are so many galas that our guests attend, and I want a piece of ours to be unforgettable.
What are the most important traits for your job?
Being able to have fun along the way, or else you’re at risk for burnout. In other words, you better have a sense of humor! Along with the “usual suspects” of being flexible and organized, it’s important to be comfortable with having a million balls in the air, leading a team as well as being part of one, knowing when to delegate, having thick skin, and knowing how to ask for and receive criticism. At the event itself you have to be good at trouble-shooting on your feet, with a smile. It’s having a vision and roadmap for how you’d like an event to be and what you want the guests to feel and to experience.
What’s something people are surprised to learn about you?
That I’m really an introvert. I used to be painfully shy when I was young and had to practice at being social. Now I enjoy getting to know people and it’s easy to be outgoing, but to recharge I prefer my own company, such as going on my annual solo-camping trip to Lake Superior in northern Minnesota.
Oh, and that once during a site visit for a conference, I went with a group of people to a David Copperfield show—the illusionist/magician. I didn’t volunteer, but he chose me as the subject to “disappear” from the stage. Which he did. I’m sworn to secrecy.
Tell us about your family.
I was raised in New Jersey but have lived in Minnesota since I was 16, and I love it here . . . except there is no ocean. I have two sons (22 and 19), the eldest who is autistic and who has taught me more than I ever could have imagined. My youngest is a baseball player and will be attending the University of Minnesota in the fall. I also love animals and have a Beagle named Hazel who is 11.
Bobbi is happiest when she’s planning and producing fundraising events, conferences and meetings. She’s been doing this work for a variety of organizations for 25 years. Bobbi leads the strategy and execution of our large annual fundraising event, HeartLink Gala.