Colleen Bromen Shannon Wong
A longish time ago, two young girls, in different decades, spent their summers lifeguarding at the Seahurst Swim Club. Neither knew at the time, as they called to kids to stop splashing and slow down, that they would later grow up to meet one another as fundraisers and become a Mentor pair.
Colleen Bromen, the mentor, is now the Senior Principal Gifts Manager at United Way of King County. She oversees a portfolio of more than 100 prospects and ran the UWKC’s last $15M campaign.
Shannon Wong, protégé, current serves as Director of Development at Benefits Law Center, an organization which provides social security advocacy for homeless and low- income people.
Colleen joined the mentorship committee early on in her Advancement Northwest membership, encouraged by her own mentor Susan Bean (with whom she is still in touch). After a break to spend time at home with her children, she returned to this volunteer role two years ago.
Last fall, Colleen read Shannon’s mentorship application and thought they would be a good match. They are both passionate about social justice and, particularly, the niche of where law and social justice intersect. They would soon discover their shared history of whistles, wet feet, and mirrored sunglasses.
Shannon decided to look for a mentor after a conversation with board member Bryan Baker at the last Advancement Northwest Conference. She knew of his work at the Northwest Justice Project and, as a new fundraiser, sought his advice for furthering her development career. He encouraged her to apply for the mentorship program.
“No matter at what stage of your career you are,” said Shannon. “If you are ambitious, a piece of you is forward thinking. You can apply what others have learned for your own future.”
“I’ve had a long career and a good perspective on what it takes to be a development professional,” added Colleen. “Mentoring Shannon also informs my role as a manager. What is going to make her feel that she has a future in this profession?”
A 2019 article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that 51 percent of fundraisers plan to leave their jobs by 2021, citing tremendous pressure to succeed in their roles while simultaneously feeling unappreciated. With mentors, new fundraising professionals have the opportunity to work with an established professional who can provided an array of tools and ideas, as well as perspective and clarity about the industry.
Shannon and Colleen find value in their monthly meetings, sharing articles and resources, and in bouncing ideas off one another. Shannon sets the agenda and sends it to Colleen in advance.
“It’s good to have the voice of someone not in your workplace,” said Shannon. “I would love to be a mentor myself at some point. It’s very important to lift one another up. Women need to feel empowered in the workplace and society. Colleen did that for me.”
Colleen and Shannon feel they have a real connection and plan to stay in touch long term. Colleen says that one of the reasons she stays active in Advancement Northwest is because of the members’ wide variety of backgrounds and the ability to reach out to peers in a supportive community.
Colleen’s example, Shannon has engaged in committee work with the DEIA Committee. “I’ve met so many great people,” said Shannon. “I definitely recommend membership. It really helps your career.”