Covenant House Illinois
Questions & Answers with Judi Coleman, CHIL's Associate Director of Development, Donor Relations
Updated: Mar 8
Judi Coleman has been an invaluable member of the CHIL fundraising team since 2020. From organizing CHIL's largest fundraising event - Sleep Out, to managing CHIL's young professional Associate Board, to cultivating a major gift portfolio of donors; Judi has been instrumental in the growth of CHIL's development departments’ fundraising initiatives in countless ways.
How and why did you get into fundraising?
After I graduated from college, someone asked me to work on a local politician's campaign. Over the next few years, I received several requests to work on fundraisers for charities, before I realized I could get paid for doing this fundraising thing! I found that I really enjoyed meeting and collaborating with all kinds of people in support of worthy causes.
Prior to coming aboard at CHIL, what were your other fundraising roles?
Over the years I have worked for various nonprofit organizations formulating strategies for major gift campaigns, developing and implementing agency policies, coordinating special events and conferences, recruiting, training, and managing volunteers (including Board development), and building and supplying content for websites and social media. I have served on the boards of nonprofits, local and state organizations, and schools, to name a few. I also had the opportunity to do some grant-making as a member of one of the allocation panels of the United Way of Greater St. Louis.
What is unique about fundraising at CHIL?
CHIL is the first organization I have worked for that is part of a federation, being one independent entity among many others in locations across the country and north and central America. I'm extremely grateful for the resources the development department receives from Covenant House International (CHI). Furthermore, there are numerous opportunities to share ideas with my counterparts at other Covenant House locations. All of this contributes to my growth as a development professional.
As the ambassador for donors from Illinois, I interact with individuals who give directly to CHIL and those who prefer to send their gifts to CHI.
What is your favorite part of being a part of CHIL?
I love the fact that we are in the same space as the young people we serve. It's a constant reminder of why we do, what we do. I also love that our development team is small but mighty! We work well together to move the needle forward in raising funds to support CHIL’s programs.
Can you elaborate on the importance of celebrating Black History month at CHIL?
In general, celebrating Black History Month is important because a group's contributions to society have a significant impact on how they are perceived by others and themselves. Unfortunately, because so few Americans know the innumerable and wide-ranging contributions of African Americans to this country, we are often only seen as oppressed people who have offered little to the larger society.
Recognizing the contributions of individuals from the African diaspora is particularly important at CHIL because the majority of the young people we serve are Black. As students of an educational system that is often inadequate, they too are unaware of the contributions of people who look like them. I believe it is our duty to help them see the possibilities that life holds for them by highlighting the accomplishments of individuals in their community.
Judi was recently named Vice-President of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) by the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP Chicago) as their. The three primary IDEA goals this year are to increase the visibility and size of six affinity groups, identify and communicate opportunities to make membership accessible, and encourage board participation in IDEA programming and initiatives. Ancillary duties related to serving as vice president, include the Executive Committee and the Committee on Directorship. She also serves as the Co-Chair of the African American Affinity Group.
”Judi personifies what is meant by a strong, smart, confident woman!” says CHIL’s Executive Director Susan Reyna-Guerrero. “Add a generous amount of glamour & style, along with a warm smile you have Judi! Her talents never cease to amaze and we are so fortunate that she has chosen CHIL to share her many gifts and passion for doing good.”