Leigh Ann Jacobson - Woman to Watch Class of 2015
Executive Director or Resource Development at Ivy Tech Community College
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Leigh Ann Jacobson joined Ivy Tech Community College’s North Central region as the Executive Director of Resource Development on June 23rd of this year. She is responsible for developing and sustaining fundraising efforts in Ivy Tech North Central’s four-county area. She cultivates partnerships with community groups, employers, foundations and individuals in support of the College's students, faculty and programs. Leigh Ann graduated from King’s College with a B.A. in English and from Arcadia University with an M.A. in English. She earned a Certificate in Executive Management from the University of Notre Dame and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Leigh Ann joined Ivy Tech with 16 years of fundraising experience. She is involved in several organizations in her field, is a speaker on fundraising topics and she is currently a member and past board member of Association of Fundraising Professionals. Leigh Ann and her family moved to Indiana eight years ago when her husband Ben accepted a position with the University of Notre Dame. Leigh Ann and Ben have three children and reside in Granger.
Just In A Day's Work:
What do you love about your job?
I love my profession because I build relationships, share my enthusiasm for the cause and impact the resources available to a non-profit. Plus, fund development is an area where I apply a variety of competencies in different ways. For example, strong writing skills are integral for writing successful proposals and communicating effectively with donors. Exceptional interpersonal skills are necessary for focusing on identifying and nurturing donor relationships. Project management skills are needed to focus on the logistics of planning special events.
What best business advice have you received and who gave it?
My high school guidance counselor offered me advice that has remained with me ever since. He emboldened me to get out there and volunteer as a way to learn skills and try on different industries. He instilled in me that being able to show that you are a passionate learner and that you can transfer learning into another role is an effective method
to demonstrate to your prospective college or future employer that you’re ready for the next opportunity. As an experienced professional, I still follow his advice. Volunteering opportunities continue to expand my knowledge, skills, professional capacity and, most importantly, my personal network.
What are some of the obstacles (if any) you have faced as a woman in your workplace?
Professional fundraising was once exclusively an "old boys" network. It has come to include a larger and larger proportion of women—women who are becoming more
prominent both as fundraisers and as donors. Yet today, disparities exist in recognizing women's philanthropy and their volunteer spirit. As a woman, I continue to wield my power through my own support of women’s funds, women candidates and women’s human services. I look for ways in my own work to maximize women's philanthropy and their joy of giving.
Who inspires you professionally?
Both the students and the donors inspire me on a daily basis! Sharing a student success story with a potential funder inspires me to make sure that program or scholarship is sustained. Being part of an individual's decision to invest in changing someone's life or bettering their community is awe-inspiring. I've been blessed by having relationships with philanthropy heroes who inspire me and others.
Do you have a professional mentor? How have they helped you succeed?
Yes, I have a professional mentor, who I sometimes refer to as my life coach. I met this woman when I first moved to Indiana eight years ago. She served as a board member at the non-profit agency at which I was working. Ever since that time, she and I meet regularly to discuss shop and share stories about our families. She is a great asset in my life, because she keeps me on task with my goal of earning my doctorate by the time I reach 50.
The Balancing Act:
What’s your best secret to “having it all?”
My best secret to "having it all" is while you're working on attaining it, sometimes you just need to pause and enjoy the small things as you get there. If you keep yourself in constant pursuit mode, you cannot appreciate where you are now.
What is your favorite non-work activity or hobby?
I really don't time for a hobby, but my favorite non-work activity is planning our next vacation which, with me, can start 365 days before it's begun! I love researching destinations, reading reviews, planning activities and finding restaurants, etc.
How do you stay organized?
I text my husband and trust in my assistant! My husband has the knack to never forget something on a list, so I just text away any needs on the home-front. At the office, I rely
on my assistant to help keep me organized so that I do not have to spend unnecessary time in the office when my goals are met by being out of the office.
Define what “success” means to you?
Success means happiness to me. Success at work stems around me being happy with my achievements. Success at home revolves around having a happy
marriage and happy children. Staying happy in trying to balance it all is a true success!
What is your favorite form of stress relief?
My favorite form of stress relief involves a hot bubble bath and streaming Sade while I soak all the troubles away.
10 SASSY Facts About Leigh Ann Jacobson:
My guilty pleasure usually involves having some ice cream or a few mini peanut butter cups while Pinteresting before bed - usually looking at pins on ways to eat healthier!
Favorite TV show:
Showtime's "House of Lies" is my current favorite tv series because it is the perfect blend of comedy and drama and the female leads are SASSY indeed! All of the characters have some devilish aspects as well which makes watching the show a great diversion.
The writing in "The Mermaid Chair" by Sue Monk Kidd is beautiful, spiritual, mysterious, and erotic. The love story exists on so many levels - the woman and the monk, the woman and her husband and the woman and her own soul. I couldn't put it down and it's my go-to re-read, even if it's just for a passage.
Favorite Scented Candle:
Clean Linen scent draws an emotional response from me because it's reminiscent of the clean sheets my grandmother hung out on the clothesline. Being tucked in at my gram's house as a child and the smell of those sheets brings back the fondest memories and feeling of security.
Favorite Beauty Product:
Lip gloss is by far my favorite beauty product. No matter where I'm going nor what time of day, I'm never without lip gloss. It's an effortless way to add some sparkle.
Biggest Pet Peeve:
My biggest pet peeve is when someone does not extend mutual courtesy back to you. For example, when you hold the door open for someone and they don't say thank you. Therefore, I make it a point to extend thoughtfulness and appreciation in many of my actions throughout every day.
What did you want to be as a kid growing up?
One of my earliest recollections is when I was just beginning elementary school. I loved going to my mother's office on days off from school, because I was able to spend time riding the elevator with Luther. Everyone knew Luther—he was the iconic elevator operator in my mother's building. Luther always greeted everyone by name, with a smile, and supplied a dose of daily humor. I remember thinking how lucky Luther must be because he brightened everyone's day and exchanged in stories during their ride. I thought back then that I would make the perfect elevator operator!
What’s your go-to and in-office beauty style?
My go-to style for the office is a classic suit or separates that are layered. It's in the accessories where my personality comes out! I love scarves, statement necklaces, being equipped with a great portfolio and pen and, of course, perfume.
What makes you feel the SASSIEST?
I have a SASSY, unstoppable attitude. I'm quick witted, bold, clever and a little feisty. I channel by SASSY-ness at work by being determined, confident and vocal. Outside of work, I summon my SASSY-ness by being playful and vivacious.
If you were a shoe, describe what you would be and why?
I would be the high heeled loafer. The loafer has remained a staple in a woman's wardrobe for decades yet keeps reinventing itself and finding new ways to be beautiful. A high quality, high heeled loafer to me is sassier than any stiletto--it's a good girl with a hint of naughty.