Member Spotlight: Brenda Laribee

Brenda Laribee, Senior Development Officer at the East Bay Community Foundation

Brenda caught the “fundraising bug” towards the end of graduate school, after a career in corporate finance. The AIDS epidemic was her first call to action; she began volunteering with the AIDS Action Committee in Boston, then transferred her passion to ignite a career in the AIDS community in the Bay Area. Social justice as always been at the core of her fundraising work, and her background in finance and budgeting has been very useful in her development career. “I love numbers, and that has come in VERY handy in all of my various organizations!”

For the last 15 years, Brenda has been the principal of her own consulting firm, working with a variety of organizations on fund development strategies and evaluations, capital and major donor campaigns, board trainings, annual fund management, and coaching/mentoring.

This summer, Brenda decided to join the East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) as a Senior Development Officer.  This position draws on her myriad skills of fundraising and relationship building, as well as adding philanthropic advising to the mix.   She will have an opportunity to partner with a portfolio of funders, while also fundraising for initiatives that support community organizing and social movements as a key strategy to create social, political, and economic power for low income and communities of color in the East Bay.

In 30 years working in development, the biggest change she has seen is the advent of online fundraising and electronic communications, “Email allows us to be in touch with our donors more often, but I still believe that nothing replaces a personal visit, or a handwritten note card once in a while.”

Brenda was introduced to DER by her fundraising mentor, Debra Kent, many years ago.  About her experience with DER she says, “I attend at least 2 or 3 monthly lunches each year; I’ve also participated in panels at DER events.  I often gain new perspectives at the events I attend, and it’s always great to see colleagues from around the Bay Area.”

Outside of work, Brenda loves music, especially the singer-songwriter genre (Americana/folk), “I go to several concerts each month, often in smaller venues and/or in peoples’ homes (aka house concerts). There’s an incredibly rich music scene in the bay area, and I feel blessed to be able to see and hear so many talented artists!”

Her go-to book for work is Susan Howlett’s Boards on Fire! Inspiring Leaders to Raise Money Joyfully. She says, “I first saw Susan Howlett present at a DER lunch.  Inspiring Boards to fundraise (joyfully or not) seems to be a consistent challenge among nonprofits. For personal reading, she often turns to books by Pema Chodron, a beloved Buddhist teacher, author, nun, and mother, especially during these trying political times.”

Brenda is most proud of building many strong relationships in the nonprofit community that has helped sustain both her consulting business and professional development for so many years.  She adds, “And, I so appreciate everyone in the DER community!”