Name: Kate Hylan
Hometown: Spring City, PA
Company: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Position: Senior Development Director
Length of time you have been with your organization: 8 Years
Briefly describe your journey, noting both personal milestones and obstacles you may have faced along the way.
I got involved with the CF Foundation when my nephew was born in 2010 and diagnosed at birth with CF. I had no idea what the disease was, so I went online and saw that it was an orphan’s disease (which means it’s rare and not enough people in the Country have it for the government to care about it) and at the time the average life expectancy was only 17. I started a walk team at the Philadelphia Zoo and started fundraising. A position opened within the local chapter in September 2011 and after 6 interviews, I was hired! I had no development experience professionally, just a background in corporate event planning and was overjoyed that they were taking a chance on me. I was hired as a Development Manager and learned the ropes quickly! My first year I oversaw 5 walks. I was single and living in Manayunk, so working nights and weekends didn’t really bother me. I loved learning about all the research that was being done on the new drugs that could potentially help my nephew and all the people who have CF.
In 2013 I was promoted to Director and took on different walks. I moved out to Chester County and got married in 2015. In 2016 our executive director became our field director and a coworker became my executive director and I was promoted to Senior Director and started running the walk program overall. It was a great year for me and in 2017 I was nominated for our 2016 Circle of Excellence Program, for fundraising and growing the program as much as I did in 2016. This program recognizes employees within the Foundation who do an amazing job and presents them with an award at the National Volunteer Conference every year. 2017 proved a fabulous year for me as well, as I welcomed my first son in December. 2018 was a whole new challenge being a working mom and out on maternity leave for the first three months of the year. I came back in full force and managed to grow my walk by over $100k. I was nominated again for Circle of Excellence in 2018. Life is different as a working mom, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How did you hear about LDC and why did you sign up to take part in it?
My boss Jessica was a part of the 2018-2019 class of LDC. She only had amazing things to say about it. I see myself having a long career within the CF Foundation and I believe there is always room for growth. I wanted to learn more about leadership in hopes that I could grow my skills and network and advance my career within the Foundation.
What inspires you? How does that inspiration play into your professional life?
Knowing that I’m helping people in the work that I’m doing really inspires me. I want to make a difference and seeing the results that come from the fundraising is really an amazing feeling and gives me more drive to do what I do.
Briefly, describe a transformative moment that helped to shift your approach to your career.
While working for the Foundation, so many new therapies have been passed through the FDA that are helping people lead longer and healthier lives. In 2014 for the first time in the HISTORY of the disease, there were more adults living with cystic fibrosis then children and in 2018 the median age moved up to 34. Working for an organization that I can see where the difference is being made is huge! The biggest game changer for me was on October 21, 2019, when the announcement was made that Trifakta, a drug that will help 90% of the CF population, was passed through the FDA. This drug will help my nephew live longer and that was my goal when I started working for the Foundation. It gives me more drive than ever to keep fundraising so that we can eventually have a CURE for all people living with CF.
What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most? Why?
I really admire my boss, she is a working mother and still manages to do it all. I think that Brene Brown and Rachel Hollis are both inspirational as well, they teach people about themselves and how to be leaders in learning more about you. My sister has 5 children, one of which has CF, and she still manages to advocate for him and work a full-time job. Ellen DeGeneres is a huge star and yet she still encourages everyone to first and foremost be kind.
What has been the most valuable professional advice and/or lesson you’ve received.
Because I have a direct connection to this disease, I tend to take a lot of the “no’s” that I receive personally. The best advice I have been given is to not take things so personally, and just because it wasn’t the outcome that you wanted, doesn’t mean it’s a failure.
Photo by: Active Image Media