Carter DeWitt is no stranger to public policy organizations, bringing over 25 years of experience at the national, state and local levels with helping donors support the causes they are passionate about. She’s the Franklin Center’s new Vice President of Development, and she’s got big plans for 2017.
Get to know Carter and how she plans to grow the support for our public interest journalism in the interview below:
- Where are you from? Tell us about yourself.
I grew up on the beaches of northeast Florida (Ponte Vedra Beach) and lived in Florida most of my life – except for a recent five year stint in Washington, DC. North Florida is a wonderful place to be, it has a younger demographic profile and tourism is a small sidebar, not a major industry. You get the best of both worlds, a thriving economy and great weather supporting year round recreation. Not surprisingly, Forbes ranked Jacksonville, Florida as the number two place in the country for attracting new residents in 2016.
Washington, DC is a fantastic place to be as well, although I could not have chosen two more opposite places to live. I remember thinking when I first landed in DC, if someone had told me on the tennis courts a year ago I would be living a block from the White House and working in the National Press Building, I would have laughed and said “I’ll have two of whatever you’re drinking!” I loved DC, but sandy beaches were calling and I returned to Florida in 2013.
- How do you spend your leisure time? What are your interests?
Maybe this means I have no life, but I dedicate a lot of my spare time volunteering for a wide variety of other nonprofits from animal rescue to the homeless. I guess I just love what I do – I don’t consider it a job and have no problem giving back in my spare time.
Now if you ask my adult children what I am interested in, besides tennis, they will tell you anything science especially dinosaurs and fossils. I have a budding fossil collection and a substantial shark tooth collection numbering in the thousands including a few megalodon teeth as large as your hand. I collect as I walk on the beach.
- Why have you chosen a career in nonprofit fundraising? What excites you about development work?
I didn’t actively pursue a career in fundraising, actually I have a B.S in chemistry, which I never used. However, my favorite reads are still medical journals and research papers. I am continually amazed at the ever increasing speed of scientific discovery. From new surgical techniques, to age reversal to anti-gravity devices and to AI (artificial intelligence), it’s a fabulous future barreling towards us all.
I fell into nonprofit fundraising because I seemed to have a natural knack of connecting donors with that special project, event or organization they felt passionate about. I always felt blessed in life and always gave back to the community. I started early, raising $30,000 for a local zoo when I was in high school. As I matured I was called upon to chair events, oversee campaigns and it just grew from there. When my husband passed away, way too early, I delved into fundraising full time. I now have successful experience at the national, state, regional and local levels in almost every funding vehicle. Best of all I don’t feel like I am working. I wake up energized and looking forward to the day.
- What is your favorite part of working with donors?
Good question! I always say I work with my fellow development team members, but I work for our donors. It’s never about what I want – but always about what the donor wants. I enjoy helping individuals, foundations and businesses match their support – whether it be time, talent or treasure – to the projects and missions that resonate in their hearts and minds. I’ve met so many talented and fascinating people over the years and I feel blessed to have played a small part in assisting them as they give back to the community. It’s such a feel good career.
- What does watchdog journalism mean to you?
I was one of the angry masses during the 2016 presidential election cycle and my trust in mainstream media is pretty low – for good reason. Recently I read a quote from the New York Times complaining about President Trump, saying (paraphrasing here) that the public is inflamed over the treatment of a cherished and beloved American icon – the press. I broke out into laughter and all I could think was ‘what cup of coffee did that reporter buy in la-la land this morning?’
I’ve come to appreciate Watchdog journalism for its integrity, its investigative method and its nonpartisan reporting. I may not always agree with what is said, but I have to admit, we tell both sides of the story. I’ve had the privilege of meeting with and talking to a lot of the staff reporters and they are an impressive group. It means a lot to me when I talk to donors about our journalists and I can accurately use the highest of accolades. Few news outlets can do that with truth.
- What do you want donors to know about Franklin Center?
I left Washington, DC a few years ago thinking to myself “Been there, done that and got the t-shirt.” Despite several incredible job offers to return since I left, I had no intention of going back to the national scene, and I had no problem saying “no thank you.” That changed when Nicki Neily, Franklin President and an old DC friend, reached out to me asking me to consider joining the team. Out of respect for her I did my due diligence and analyzed the potential for Franklin Center and Watchdog.org. though to be honest, I started with every intention of repeating my “No, but thanks for thinking of me,” as soon as I finished my research.
What I discovered was amazing. I was blown away. I realized Franklin Center and Watchdog.org stood on the precipice of opportunity and had all the tools to make their vision happen on a scale never anticipated since their founding in 2009. Experienced motivated leadership team? Check! Talented staff? Check! External opportunity created by self-implosion of a huge portion of mainstream media? Check! Untapped revenue sources? Check! My list just went on and on. Call it a perfect storm or say that all the stars are aligned, but without a doubt, the next five years will be one heck of a ride and I wanted to be a part of the movement. I hope you’ll join me.
You can learn more about Carter by clicking here.