This month, Parley spoke with Reut Shilton, the 2016 recipient of the Kevin Allen Scholarship for Student Excellence in Fundraising. The scholarship, established in memory of passionate fundraiser Kevin Allen, is awarded to one Humber College student who embodies his generous spirit and shows great promise in the field.
You received the Kevin Allen Scholarship last June. Belated congratulations! What brought you to Humber College for the Fundraising Management program?
Thanks! For me, fundraising wasn’t a plan. It sort of fell into my lap!
When I was a student at York University, I was the stage manager for Vanier College Productions’ annual production of The Vagina Monologues. One year, we donated the proceeds from the show to the North York Women’s Shelter. After meeting the people at the shelter, I started volunteering there. For three or four years, I helped with administrative tasks, research for capital campaigns, and fundraising events.
After university my partner and I went to China for six months to teach English. When we returned, I learned that the volunteer coordinator at the shelter was going on maternity leave. I applied for the job and got the contract. This role really opened my eyes – I felt too sensitive to be a frontline worker, but I didn’t know there were other career possibilities that would allow me to do this type of work.
When my colleague returned from maternity leave, my contract was finished. I looked for other jobs, but I didn’t have enough experience. My mentors suggested that I go to school to learn the basics. I found Humber’s program by researching online. After speaking with the program coordinator and my mentors, I felt I was going in the right direction.
How did you get involved in theatre? What else were you studying before you arrived at Humber College?
When I was six, theatre became my after-school activity – it was a natural fit for me. When I entered high school, I spent more time taking theatre classes to learn about all aspects of theatre: performance, tech, costumes, backstage. There I discovered stage management. I wanted to be involved in all aspects of the show and this was the role to do it!
At York I chose to pursue amateur theatre through my involvement with Vanier while completing my degree in Sexuality Studies, which nurtured my feminist side. My academic and extracurricular interests intersected when I stage-managed The Vagina Monologues. Every year I worked on that show and that’s what brought me to the North York Women’s Shelter.
It sounds like your career in fundraising wasn’t such an accident after all! The Humber program requires that students complete an internship. Where did you do yours?
I worked at Reach for the Rainbow, a charity that supports children and youth with disabilities. As an intern, I focused on researching and writing grant proposals. I also had the chance to work on a handful of third-party events, including a community barbeque and a large golf tournament. It was very eye-opening to see how events of different sizes and audiences come together.
After my internship, the organization offered me a job. Now I’m the Development Associate on a small team, and it feels great to be continuing to learn. We’re working on Reach for the Rainbow’s signature event, the Crystal Ball, which is huge. I like that my work is linked to my experience as a stage manager – that really prepared me to think about and manage varying scales.
What’s next for you, Reut? What’s your dream job?
Part of me is learning not to settle on a “dream job” because as I learn more about fundraising, my ideas are constantly changing. But if I had to choose now, I think in the future I’d like to be an Executive Director. In the shorter term, I’d like to continue working in organizations that have a community focus and that allow me to try a lot of different things.
How has the Humber program helped advance your career to this stage?
Humber gave me a great base of knowledge about the world of fundraising. When I started in my previous job, I had little idea of what was normal, what was supposed to happen, and whether or not I was doing it right. It was like wearing a blindfold. Going to Humber helped give me the tools to ask the right questions and get my mind thinking about what’s possible. It also gave me access to a significant network of peers and mentors, not to mention a wealth of examples, exercises, and resources.