Stephanie Witte, NPR's new Chief Development Officer, hit the ground running on Monday, Jan. 23. Prior to NPR, Stephanie led fundraising teams at major universities and complex medical institutions like UCLA's Health Sciences and Columbia University's Medical Center. She is an accomplished fundraiser and a talented leader with a unique combination of skills to offer NPR and the development team. We sat down with Stephanie to ask her a few questions, here's what she shared with us:
1) How and when did you discover public radio?
I first started listening to NPR in high school, but notably, not by choice. I attended an all-girls Catholic high school and at the time, one of my older brothers was a teacher and athletic director at the neighboring all- boys Catholic high school. He would pick up me and my friends for a ride to school every morning and we were "subjected" to NPR during the commute. However, something sunk in because by the time I went off to college, I then chose to listen to NPR, perhaps to better understand the world; perhaps to hear familiar voices. Whatever the case may be, NPR stuck with me and I've been an active listener, supporter and an NPR junkie ever since.
2) What part of your personal or professional background will be most helpful to you in this role?
From a personal perspective, I think my utter love and commitment to all things NPR will be a powerful asset in this new role. From a professional perspective, my background in complex, academic medical settings will provide excellent experience and relative understanding of NPR's unique (federated) structure.
3) What are your goals for your first month on the job?
My goals for the first month are primarily internal. The position of Chief Development Officer has been vacant since March 2016 and I think it is crucial for me to establish rapport and trust with my colleagues, while also building a reinvigorated and collaborative environment. And moving forward, I am ecstatic to foster and continue to build successful relationships with our Boards, Member stations and donor communities.
4) What are you looking forward to most about working at NPR?
What I look forward to most is working amongst the world's best journalists in an effort to empower, educate and invigorate American society at an intellectual and cultural level. In short, I look very forward to working with progressive individuals who share the belief that NPR encourages us all to be better citizens. In The Summer Day, the wonderful poet, Mary Oliver, wrote: "....Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?" I strongly believe NPR will give me the opportunity to answer Oliver's question with great pride.