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Ops & Asks

The Musings Of A Houston Fundraiser

  • Writer's pictureJuliana M. Weissbein CFRE

Why You Should Apply for AFP-NYC’s Mentorship Program

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

This month I am proud to share a guest blog post by AFP-NYC Mentee, Victoria, Shadle Williams, M.S.

AFP-NYC Mentee, Victoria Shadle Williams, M.S.

Last fall I was excited to see that AFP-NYC was once again hosting a mentorship program for members. When I applied to be a mentee the previous year I was not selected, so I was thrilled to be invited to join the program for 2022. While I’ve been working in development for a handful of years and had informal mentors before, this would be my first time in a structured mentorship program and it came at the perfect time in my career.

After two and a half years in an individual and corporate giving management role at a mid-sized nonprofit, in January 2022 I started in my first truly senior-level position at a small nonprofit. I went from a mid-level role on a large team to a senior-level position reporting to the Executive Director and leading all development and communications with the support of consultants and one direct report.

It was an exciting but stressful jump with lots to prove, and just as that new chapter was starting I joined AFP-NYC’s mentorship program as a mentee. The mentorship planning team learned about my experience and ambitions through my application and thoughtfully paired me with Adrienne Cea, an experienced fundraiser who made a similar career leap herself years earlier.

I met with Adrienne for the first time the week before starting my new job and she immediately put me at ease, reminding me that yes, this senior position is going to be challenging – but starting a new leadership position is difficult for anyone! Adrienne helped me feel more confident going into my new role. This job was a big and risky step for me, but having a mentor who had already been through that jump successfully helped me feel assured in my skills and what I was bringing to the table.

Adrienne and I started meeting over coffee every other month or so and while we had wide-ranging conversations, she also pushed me to articulate my professional goals for the year and what I needed to do to achieve those goals. She was there as I navigated challenges big and small with volunteer leadership, hiring my direct report, and the stress and anxiety of applying for a giant government contract. Adrienne could relate to what I was going through and give advice based on her years of experience.

At first, when I got into the program I thought the mentee/mentor relationship would be fairly tactical and the mentor would share their best practices for fundraising, but for us, it ended up being so much more – something that I truly couldn’t get from reading articles or attending a professional development event. Over time, Adrienne became a sounding board, confidant, and cheerleader. Her support was unique and valuable as fundraising careers can feel lonely at times, both out in the world where there are many misconceptions about what we do and even within our own organizations. Adrienne reminded me of the community I have here at AFP.

As I close out my first year as a Director of Development and Communications, I’m so thankful for Adrienne and the AFP-NYC Mentorship Program. I highly recommend anyone who is eligible consider applying, even if you’ve applied in the past and were not selected. If you are lucky enough to join the program and get paired with a mentor like Adrienne, it will be well worth the time and effort.


Victoria Shadle Williams, M.S. is Director of Development & Communications at CASA-NYC and Associate Instructor at Columbia University. She attained her masters in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University and currently serves as a mentee in the AFP-NYC Mentorship Program

Juliana M. Weissbein, CFRE is a respected leader and decision influencer in regard to fundraising operations best practices. With over a decade of experience, Juliana thrives on professional growth, team success, measurable results, and inspiring fundraisers to utilize data-based strategies. Juliana currently serves as the Associate Director of Development Operations at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She is an AFP Global Board Member, AFP Global's 2019 Outstanding Young Professional Fundraiser and is a member of the AFP Global Women's Impact Initiative. Juliana is immediate past chair of the AFP New York City chapter’s Emerging Leaders Committee and currently serves on the chapter’s board chairing their mentorship program. She resides in Houston, TX and never turns down a good kombucha.


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