For this new edition of #HowWeGotThis, Nathalie HAUTAVOINE, Director of Advancement at LFSF explains how she and her team proactively adapted to the new normal in 2020 and shares her projects and goals for 2021.
LFSF: Hi Nathalie, could you please introduce yourself and tell us more about your role at LFSF?
Nathalie: I am the Director of Advancement and work with my 2 collaborators, Meriem Faidi Curtil and Bonnie Kramer and many incredible volunteer parents. The role of the Advancement Department is to help the school advance through fundraising to support specific goals and bring the school community together.
Nathalie (top right) and her team: Bonne KRAMER (top left) and Meriem FAIDI-CURTIL (bottom) during a Zoom meeting (2021)
LFSF: How would you describe the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on your department? Did it change your approach in leading fundraising projects during these difficult and extraordinary times?
Nathalie: COVID 19 and the shelter in place were really bad news for everyone. It naturally also affected our department and the work of our volunteers. In fact, after 7 months of preparation of the school’s biggest parent event and fundraiser, the Annual Auction Gala, we found out just one week before that we had to cancel it! That meant no party of course, but more importantly, no extra funds for scholarships or for our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion effort. It was such a disappointment!
But this was nothing compared to the dire situation some LFSF families would be facing. That's the reason why we suggested launching the LFSF Family Solidarity Fund, which was right away supported by our Board of Trustees and leadership team.
In working to make this Solidarity Fund a success, we had to adapt our approach because each time we picked up the phone to call a donor, we were not sure how they were impacted by the pandemic, whether personally, psychologically or financially. I usually started by simply checking in, before sharing the purpose of the Family Solidarity Fund: to see that no student would have to leave school because of COVID-19. Based on their response, I either explained how they could help, or how the LFSF could help them (our department could promote a family business, or help them access the school’s Solidarity Fund.)
Nathalie during the Grand-Parents and Friends Day (January 2018)
LFSF: 2020 has finally come to an end. How would you describe the outcome of this year for you: can you identify a silver lining to this complicated year?
Nathalie: In a few words, we witnessed how our community is UNITED and GENEROUS. Our families responded to the appeal and showed their incredible support as they contributed $220K that allowed 64 students to continue learning at LFSF this school year! The whole team was so happy to know that we had helped alleviate some anxiety and stress for these families. It truly made our core mission a reality, in a very practical sense!
LFSF: Each year the Advancement organizes an Auction Gala. What will the 2021 Gala look like? What adjustments will you have to make and what are the implications on the organization of such an event?
Nathalie: It's definitely going to be a premiere as the event will be fully virtual on Saturday May, 1st. It will be an hour full of special and high energy moments featuring highlights of our students and alumni, our favorite comedian and a high octane live auction. It’s exciting to know that it will be open to everyone, including alumni or grandparents on the other side of the world. Everyone will be able to experience joy in giving as we raise funds for the LFSF students, notably for the Fund for the Future focused on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice (DEIJ) to continue the journey we embarked on three years ago when our Board of Trustees identified DEI as a priority.
LFSF Annual Gala that took place in March 2019
LFSF: Thank you Nathalie! And to conclude, what are your wishes and new resolutions for 2021?
Nathalie: Hindsight is 2020 ! What we've experienced this past year is the importance of reimagining oneself and never giving-up. With that in mind, the LFSF will continue its journey keeping Diversity Equity Inclusion as its top priority, and adding Justice to it!
Diversity Day on the Ashbury campus (early 2020)
#HowWeGotThis is our series of testimonials showing how our teams and community are pioneering, reinventing themselves and imagine new ways to operate in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.