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Welcome to the Jolkona Team, Aparna Rae!

As Jolkona focuses on growing our community of philanthropists and social entrepreneurs, we are thrilled welcome a new member to our leadership team: Aparna Rae, our first Development Manager.

What is your role here at Jolkona?

I’m joining the team as Development Manager. Basically, my job is to bring in funds to support Jolkona operations, through grants, major donor cultivation and events.

What was your previous work experience?

I went to college with the dream of working for National Geographic — majoring in forensic anthropology and graphic design — but somewhere between my second and third year, took a turn and headed into education. Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked in K-12, after-school and community-based programs, and even taught seminars at a university.

Despite the many changes to my original “plan,” my motivation today is the same as when I started college: helping the world’s bottom billion (or two). In my previous roles locally, I focused deeply on structural issues that keep immigrant and refugee youth from succeeding in school, and designing programs to address them.

Which other nonprofits have you previously worked with, in the Seattle area or elsewhere?

Locally, I’ve worked with Neighborhood House, The Power of Hope, FEEST as a consultant, and currently PYE Global’s Young Women Empowered as a consultant.

In addition, I helped launch Project Feast and its pilot programs for immigrant and refugee cooks in May and June 2013. I currently sit on the board of The Service Board, as the Vice President/Chair.

How did you first find out about Jolkona ?

I heard about Jolkona from Siddhartha Saha, who was shooting some photos for a project a few years ago. Followed from the periphery, and then helped with elements of Corks & Forks (Jolkona’s fundraising dinner) last year.

What do you find most interesting and/or challenging about Jolkona?

What’s both interesting and challenging about Jolkona is that we need to capture funds to meet goals on our Give partner programs (through Give Direct, Give Together, Lift Bangla), as well as for our own operations. This model creates a kind of Catch-22, since Jolkona doesn’t oversee the Give projects, so those donations don’t pay for our own staff, office or website. So, I do think that a lot of my work early on will be in helping define program areas and increase fundability.

My areas of expertise are primarily in program design and evaluation, which translates really well to the needs of fund development at Jolkona. And at the same time, I want to get people excited about the promise of Jolkona and our innovative next-gen philanthropy lab model, so that they want to join us by making meaningful contributions to operations.

What are you most excited to do as part of the Jolkona team?

I love meeting new people, and in my role I’ll get to do just that.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I lived in four different countries before moving to the U.S. at 14: India (Jaipur, Delhi, Gurgaon); Kathmandu, Nepal; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai, UAE.

If you would like to hear more about her in person, Aparna will part of the Crowdfunding & Beyond panel discussion for nonprofits at tomorrow’s NDOA conference in Bellevue, WA.

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