An Interview with our Director of Development, Maggie Andrews

January 31, 2020

826 National is currently seeking applicants for a Director of Development. Learn more about what it’s like to work at 826 National from Maggie Andrews, our outgoing Director of Development, who is moving on from the role after five years.

Q: What brought you to 826 National, and how long have you worked here?

A: Sumaya and Dalhaysy brought me to 826 National. They were two of 826 Boston’s first after-school tutoring students, and in 2009, I learned from and read with them every Wednesday afternoon. Thanks to those two, and many other Boston students, I re-learned fourth-grade math and was introduced to an unforgettable book, Walter the Farting Dog. And I read a lot of brilliant and hilarious student writing. Wednesday was my favorite day of the week. 

When I moved to the Bay Area later that year, one of the first things I did was sign up as a tutor with 826 Valencia. I always kept my eye on job openings at 826, and in 2014, I was thrilled to accept the role of 826 National’s new director of development. 

Throughout my life, writing has opened many doors for me—professionally and personally. It has been a joy and a privilege to help ensure students everywhere can access, enjoy, and harness that profound tool for self-expression and advocacy. 

Q: What’s one achievement you’ve made here that you’re particularly proud of?

A: We have been very fortunate to work with a multitude of visionary and compassionate funders to create some truly amazing projects for students and to scale the 826 model and approach. From launching 826 Digital, to onboarding two new chapters (with The 826 Dallas Project on deck!), to promoting important initiatives for youth like our anti-bullying work with Cartoon Network…it’s been an honor to help publish and amplify our students’ words in partnership with so many dedicated funders. 

But if I have to choose one achievement, it would probably be launching our annual Giving Tuesday campaign. Giving Tuesday is a national holiday for giving, and in 2014, we launched 826 National’s first crowdfunding campaign, led by our board of directors. We knocked our goal out of the park that year and a new, community-based fundraising effort was born (in part thanks to our board chairman offering to dress like a pirate at his annual partners’ meeting as an incentive for meeting his goal). Since that time, we’ve raised over $775k through Giving Tuesday, thanks to a whole host of friends and supporters running personal campaigns. It is an absolute joy to see board members, donors, interns, staff members, volunteers, and friends of 826 successfully rally their networks on our behalf—and sometimes egg each other on with some friendly competition! Fundraising success is at its best when shared with others. 

Q: What is something you’re going to miss about 826 National?

A: The people. While supporting students nationwide is our ultimate goal, at 826 National, our immediate aim is to ensure that our chapters are connected and thriving. At National, you have the unique opportunity to get to know staff members from every corner of the country, who each bring their own approach, background, and expertise to the work. It is incredible to see how the 826 model is adapted to serve, support, and respond to every local community—and how the staffers, in turn, bring their local flavor and knowledge to the 826 Network. The same goes for our national community of board members and donors—they are remarkably supportive and engaged advocates, who bring an impressive variety of skills and experience to enhance our work. In general, 826ers are some of the funniest, most compassionate, and driven people you will ever meet.
I’ve also traveled to almost all of our chapter cities (I’m coming for you, 826 MSP!) and as a result, have enjoyed learning more about the education systems, histories, and the deep literary and cultural traditions of some of our nation’s most important and complicated cities. I have learned SO MUCH from my colleagues and made some wonderful friends over the past five years.

Q: What advice do you have for interested candidates? What disposition should they bring to their work and what expectations should they have of this position (and working with 826 National in general)?

A: 826 National is about to embark on a new strategic planning process that comes on the heels of one of our biggest phases of growth and increased impact. This is the perfect moment for a new director of development to join the leadership team and help to imagine and execute a vision for the philanthropic future of 826 National. Interested candidates should have an entrepreneurial mindset and passion for fundraising, and come prepared to contribute to a culture of creativity, collaboration, learning, and endless possibility. And of course, commitment to our students and mission is paramount. Expect to be dazzled by our young writers; inspired by our staff, donors, and board of directors; and motivated by your teammates. Expect to work hard and love your job.

If you’re interested in becoming 826 National’s next Director of Development, please look over our updated job description.

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