Senior Development Officer
Bachelor of Arts in Communication, University of Kentucky
The Ringling: What do you do at The Ringling?
Susan: My role as senior development officer at The Ringling consists of three primary responsibilities. First, I manage the Annual Fund program. My principal goal is to enhance communications with our supporters and provide increased opportunities for their involvement. I think it’s important to have multiple touch points throughout the year so friends and supporters of The Ringling understand that no matter the size of their gift, their yearly support of the Annual Fund makes possible so many things—the Museum’s educational programs, technological advances, exciting exhibitions, and the care and preservation of our collection.
My role also encompasses managing sponsorships for our exhibitions and programming, including our new Art of Performance season, which kicks off with the 6th annual Ringling International Arts Festival on October 15. As a newcomer to Sarasota, I’ve enjoyed getting out into the community and meeting with business owners to learn what they look for in a community partner. I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive comments I’ve heard about The Ringling; so many people and businesses in the community are already incredibly supportive of everything we do, and I hope to continue developing meaningful relationships with more business owners in the coming months.
The final aspect of my position involves working with individuals to help them identify their philanthropic goals. I want to discover a donor’s interests and values, and help them leave a lasting legacy in support of something they’re passionate about at The Ringling.
Why do you believe people should become donors to The Ringling?
At the heart of The Ringling’s mission is education, and each year we are able to educate, engage and entertain hundreds of thousands of individuals from all over the world. But we are only able to do so because of private support. Gifts to The Ringling allow us to offer world-class exhibitions and programming for adults, students and families that enrich the lives of countless people in the community. No matter what someone is passionate about—visual or performing arts, the circus, education, the Museum’s grounds or the Ca’d’Zan—a gift of any size really can make a tremendous difference.
You mentioned donors finding their passion at The Ringling; what is yours?
While I enjoy everything on our campus, I’d have to say the Ca’d’Zan is what I most enjoy. Not only is the architecture stunningly beautiful, but it’s a symbol of the love that was so evident between John and Mable Ringling. It’s a wonderful legacy for the people of Florida—a true jewel.
What did you do before joining the staff at The Ringling?
After graduating from the University of Kentucky with a degree in communication, I spent the better part of a decade as an account director for several advertising agencies in the South. I had the pleasure of working with some amazing clients in the hospitality and tourism, entertainment and restaurant industries, but decided it was time for a new challenge. In 2008, I accepted a position as director of communications with the Florida State University Foundation, where I worked for more than five years. Education has always been important to my family and me, and working for the FSU Foundation was an extremely gratifying experience that provided me an opportunity to tell the stories of donors who significantly impacted the university, students, faculty and community through their generosity.
What are your interests outside of work?
I love to travel and have been fortunate to have visited some amazing places around the globe. I also enjoy cooking, reading, sports and the arts.
What do you like about the Sarasota community?
I feel that Sarasotans, regardless of how long they have lived here, really want to support the community. Not only are people incredibly friendly, but they are also incredibly active and engaged. I’m looking forward to putting down roots and calling this city home.