An advancement officer at KPU, Miller spends her days managing relationships with donors, both current and prospective, and working to match their philanthropic desires with the needs of students attending KPU. This typically involves:
- Multiple meetings, phone calls and emails between donors, prospective donors and the university community.
- Research and writing – proposals, new gift implementation, identifying new prospective partners and partnerships, gaining knowledge about KPU-based activities for future alignment with donors.
- Project Management – maintaining accurate plans for various fundraising activities and donor communications. This can include annual cycles, one-time initiatives, and collaborative efforts across the institution.
“These steps are all critical to relationship building and ensuring donors are fulfilled by their involvement with KPU,” notes Miller.
Professional development is essential in Miller’s position so, eyeing the Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) accreditation, she began logging her activities in professional practice, community service, continuing education and performance in 2009. She wrote and passed the CFRE exam this past December.
The CFRE designation is a significant professional accomplishment, but there are at least three people in Miller’s life who care much more about whether she’s planning to attend their next school event and what she’s putting in their lunches: daughter Grace, 10, and sons Lucas, seven, and Parker, 18 months.
When Miller describes her family – her at-home support network – she doesn’t leave anything out:
“I met my husband, Chris, here at KPU. He works in the Facilities department. He is an incredible stepdad to my older two children, and Chris and I also grew our family with the addition of Parker. We also have one dog – Lucky – and one cat – Felony – and currently two fish, Stripes and Stripey.”
How do you manage the demands of family with the demands of work?
I consider them all demands (or opportunities) that I have invited into my life and work to meet the expectations of my various roles/duties/responsibilities with harmony and flexibility. I have learned through practice that keeping things very delineated doesn’t work for me, so my kids visit me at work from time to time and get to see what goes on here and who I work with. Then when I get home, they want to hear who wore the same shoes as me with more understanding and appreciation for what I do as a professional to support our family. And on the flip side I am able to have the flexibility to take time off to attend field trips and special performances at their school and experience what they are learning in their lives as students.
Times are always changing. Do you manage the work/life balance in the same way your family did when you were growing up?
I was fortunate to be raised by a dedicated working mom who imparted the belief that it takes a village to raise a child and have opted to live that philosophy in my own family. I am blessed to have an incredible village who participate in the care and upbringing of our children and together we manage a weekly schedule that works for everyone. To explain it overcomplicates things, but it works well for us and everyone involved does so willingly and makes an incredible contribution to our lives and us to theirs.
Do you have supports you rely on?
Absolutely, I have a whole roster of close friends and family who help things run smoothly from week to week and are there to inject new energy and experiences whenever required. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, family friends, extended family, classmates, daycare providers, etc.
Does your schedule offer flexibility?
I thrive on flexibility and have ensured it is present everywhere so I can be where I am most needed with smooth transition.
How do you rejuvenate?
I take time to nurture my most valuable relationships – date night with my husband, activities with kids one-on-one, adult time with close friends, special gatherings with extended family. Any time I get to spend alone is sacred; grocery shopping is one of my favourites and I read as often as I can.
What’s the greatest tool you use for work/life balance?
I have a large calendar that keeps everyone up to date on our schedule at home, and I use Outlook for myself to keep work and home in alignment. I also often write checklists for my older kids to use as a reminder of their morning and after-school routines when I’m not at home.
What advice would you give other working professionals?
Maintain clear intentions for what you do and why. When I feel like things are getting unmanageable, I check in on my intentions and pare away what doesn’t need to be there, literally and figuratively.
Can you share a few tips?
- Use effective communication that includes the whole family – kids too!
- Be confident.
- Give yourself credit – we take on A LOT as working parents and are making an incredible contribution to the world.
- Acknowledge your village and let them know how much you value them.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my own personal experience as a working parent. It is a combination of roles I am very proud of and work very hard to maintain a balance that supports my family and our needs. I recognize and value the uniqueness everyone brings to their lives and hope my sharing provides insights into your experience as a working parent and contributes to the joy and success of other families.