Erin O'Toole - Smart and Kind

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Erin has over 15 years of experience as a development professional at various organizations. She has used her expertise at the Alzheimer’s Association for almost a decade, moving on to Second Harvest Food Bank, and most recently, Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley, where she was the Director of Corporate and Organizational Giving. In the past couple months she accepted the Director of Development position at Marine Applied Research & Exploration (MARE), where she leads the organization’s development program in efforts to promote and practice ocean conservation.

This ladybadass is an active member of Association of Fundraising professionals, and has been for the past 16 years. She has ample experience in grant writing, program development, community outreach, and event planning. Much of her experience is working with nonprofit organizations, providing knowledge in fundraising strategies and techniques. Inspired by women who are empowering and use their gifts to change lives for the better, we see this in Erin’s life work as well.

In addition to her organizational responsibilities, Erin has also held important leadership positions. Early on in her career she was invited to join a nonprofit organization’s board of directors, as well as participate in a small but critical committee with a couple of board members. While it seems only natural to us that she should be on these committees, Erin says she wasn’t always comfortable in moments where ladybadassery was required. “I thought, ‘What do they see in me that I don’t?’” When she finally built up the courage to contribute to the conversation, she said, “I noticed the nodding heads and interested expressions, and realized that my input was both valued and valuable. I started to find my voice then.” She expressed that she’s become more comfortable with recognizing and leaning into challenging moments.

Erin has a couple takeaways from her own experience. “There is something special and powerful about our sisterhood. My advice is to keep building your posse, both personally and professionally. I know I gain a lot of strength, inspiration, and motivation from the women around me, and am always eager to return the favor.” Her second piece of advice is to take the leap. “Don’t be afraid to be a little (or a lot!) risky. I believe that when you stretch outside of your comfort zone, that is truly where the magic happens.” It certainly seems to have made all the difference for this ladybadass.