Employee Spotlight: Dawn Fish, Director of Development

Where did you grow up?

Roseville.

What is your educational background?

I am a non-traditional college graduate. I graduated and passed my cosmetology school license exam while still in high school. Several years later, I was fortunate to work for a woman in the marketing function of AgriBank, who encouraged me to get my bachelor’s degree, which I completed between St. Kate’s and Metropolitan State University. I later completed two master’s degrees: a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from St. Kate’s and a Master of Science in Legal Studies from Kaplan University. I’m the first in my family to have completed a bachelor’s degree and the only one to complete a master’s degree.

I’m now embarking on a Certified Financial Planner program. This will help me better explore gifts of non-cash assets, like real estate, business ownership, and stocks with our Dunwoody donors.

How long have you been working at Dunwoody?

Two years.

Why did you decide to work at Dunwoody?

Before being hired at Dunwoody, I was employed as a senior major gift officer at Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation. I was smitten when I learned more about Dunwoody. In addition to its academic strengths, Dunwoody is an icon in Minneapolis history and philanthropy.

What is your favorite memory at Dunwoody?

It is every moment when a non-donor becomes a donor and realizes they want to benefit Dunwoody. Being a part of a donor’s decision to make a gift is a privilege. From the recent $1.5 million endowment gift to support women students, to an alumnus who made a provision in his estate for a $2.5 million gift, to a small gift from someone who just loves Dunwoody—it’s great to be involved in these conversations and decisions.

What are a few of your hobbies?

Home renovation and improvement projects, landscaping, gardening, reading, and exercising—my husband and I have to keep up with our 8-year-old German Shepherd, Maximus.

Who are some of your favorite musicians? Do you have any favorite concerts?

I have a diverse Spotify play list. My all-time favorite concert was sitting in Northrop Auditorium on stage behind Gordon Lightfoot.

What are three of your favorite snacks?

Potato chips, almonds, and popcorn. I try to substitute a good apple for potato chips, but sometimes the chips win out.

What are you most proud of?

My daughter, Holly. She lives in Chicago now, where she co-manages a privately owned restaurant.

Fun facts:
  • In my work as a professional fundraiser, I’ve had the great opportunity to travel the country and meet people like Lee Iacocca, Mrs. Currier & Ives, Smokey Robinson, and Tommy Lee Jones.
  • In the less sophisticated days of fundraising, I once carried a plain brown paper bag holding $50,000 in cash from an event across the U of M East Bank campus.
  • Two of my three brothers are NEI (which later merged with Dunwoody) grads.
  • I am a survivor of a rare skeletal Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which was originally misdiagnosed four days before Christmas 2010 as secondary bone cancer that would take my life.