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GIA Member Spotlight Sharon White

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Sharon White

Sharon White
Director, Leadership Annual Giving
Duke Health Development & Alumni Affairs

We caught up with Sharon White to discover more about her, what she’s up to, and what we can learn from her. 

Briefly describe your current role. 
In my role, I develop and manage an integrated strategy for building a pipeline of support from grateful patients, alumni, and friends with a focus on increasing annual gifts at the $1,000-$24,999 level. Through collaboration with staff who have leadership annual giving responsibilities in their units, I create best practices, review top prospects, and increase effectiveness of leadership annual giving across Duke Health Development & Alumni Affairs (DHDAA). 

Briefly describe your career journey and what led you to institutional advancement in academic medicine. 
I’ve worked in a variety of capacities in my career at Duke, progressing with increasing responsibility during each passing year. I started as a staff specialist at Duke University before being invested in by a trusted and experienced manager and mentor, and subsequently earning a directorship for the Duke University Phonathon program for nearly a decade. From there, I progressed to Assistant Director of Young Alumni and Student Programs and then Associate Director of Annual Giving at DHDAA under the management of another spectacular leader. I recently moved into my role as Director of Leadership Annual Giving. It’s apparent to me now more than ever that each step in my career progression was made possible in part by driven and talented leaders.

What achievement in your current job are you proud of? 
I was recently selected to participate in Duke’s Management Academy. In what I know to be a core competency for the Duke Management Academy, I believe in proactivity and a deep awareness of the needs, strengths, and resources of those who seek to work toward Duke’s mission and vision. That belief comes from spending over 20 years as part of an evolving Duke family. 

Foundationally, I bring all parts of me to everything I do. Both in my personal and professional life, I identify and experience the world around me as a Black woman. Structurally, there are observable differences in the representation of people (and more specifically women) of color in leadership spaces. It’s not lost on me that my role as an effective director, manager, and leader of color can be immensely inspiring to those who I interact with and mentor in the future. Our diverse identities aren’t necessarily impediments or advantages in our professional lives, but they are factors that affect our abilities to be fully seen and understood. In my lengthy career, I have never been managed by a leader of color, and it’s important to me that I can both bring my lived experience to my role and offer support and encouragement to employees I will manage.

What is the best career advice you were given and how have you used it?
To ask good questions, never give up, and never quit learning. This advice has empowered me to constantly challenge myself to expand and grow in my career. 

What advice do you have for other institutional advancement professionals in academic medicine? 
Network, network, network. Building the right connections and getting your name out there are vital for the continued growth and development of your career. There is extraordinary power in the GIA network; take full advantage of it.

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