We had the good fortune of connecting with Vanessa Seltzer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vanessa, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am from, New Jersey, but have been in Florida for almost 20 years. I was raised by two servant leaders: my Dad, a Reverend, and my Mom, who worked for the health department. Both were social activists and taught me to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. I graduated from FIU and started my now 13-year career in social work; ten years ago, I started in fundraising. I absolutely love what I do. I love helping individuals and companies help those without a voice in our community!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Gilda’s Club South Florida, an affiliate of the Cancer Support Community, is dedicated to providing support, education and hope to all people impacted by cancer, family members and friends of those diagnosed, children, and people who have lost someone to cancer. All of this is free of charge to any one anyone who needs us. Our namesake is Gilda Radner from the original cast of Saturday Night Live. Gilda’s Club South Florida provides a gathering place where people with cancer, as well as their families and friends, or people that have lost someone to cancer, can join with others to actively involve themselves in building social and emotional support as a supplement to regular medical care. Our evidence-based programming includes support groups, healthy lifestyle workshops, mind-body classes, social activities, educational lectures and community resource information. We build community, so we can take on cancer together. We are more than a nonprofit; we truly are a community that comes together to help each other. We go through it all together and you feel that as a member, as staff, as a board member or even as a donor we are in this together. That is what is so special about Gilda’s Club.
The mission of Gilda’s Club South Florida is to ensure all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community. I get to connect people to something bigger than themselves while also advocating for those in our community who need us.
Development is an art. It’s not just transactional it’s about the relationships you build. That took years of studying and learning techniques or tools to be successful. To be a good Development officer, you have to know how to be a good listener, be hardworking, a great motivator and have impeccable integrity. It is more than just asking for money. It’s listening to the needs of your organization and connecting those needs with the passion of your donor and then properly thanking them for what they have done for the community. In order to do that impactfully and meaningfully, you have to build a relationship with your donor, you need to get to know them as a person, not a transaction. Most importantly you have to thank them and show them where their dollars went. This is so crucial yet an area that so many miss the mark.
I’d offer this advice to anyone wanting to be successful in this industry: get involved in your community.; whether in your local Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) chapter, your local chamber or other professional group, choose one and be active. I cannot tell you how much it has benefited me and the organizations I represent. I am the incoming chair for our local AFP chapter, an organization that has poured so much knowledge into my career. I’m also heavily involved with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and that has opened numerous opportunities for Gilda’s Club.
I love what I do because of the people I get to work with daily, it truly is an honor even on the hard days. Outside of being a proud Latina servant-leader, I am honored to be a woman of faith , mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend to my amazing village. I could encompass everything about my brand, story, and what I want people to know about me in this one John Wesly quote that I choose to live my life by: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
If I had to describe the best local spots, I’d take you on a week’s tour of our beautiful community. We’d start with an amazing couple of beach days, from Fort Lauderdale Beach to Hollywood Beach. We would have to visit The Alchemist for breakfast, La Mexicana for Taco Tuesday and then enjoy Wilton Creamery or any of the bars in Wilton Manors. For those who know me that’s one day of eating. LOL
We would go by Circle House Coffee for a CBD slushy and Mojo Donuts. We’d build in time for a visit to, Lirios Massage for the best massages in town. We can’t forget our amazing Mass District and Fat Village to check out the local art, probably catch the art walk, do some shopping at the local shops. For sure we would have to stop by The Bling Club, the blithe co., and Sugar Luxe Society where I could also see the amazing photography studio of Graciela Valdes Fine Art Photography. On to dinner at the Empanada Loca or 925 Nuevo Cubano’s, then drinks at Riverfront at the Original Fat Cats to end the night with music and friends.
Later that week we would head out west since I am a West Broward girl. We could check out the Everglades, grab some Laspada’s hoagies for lunch and then Scuotto’s pizza for dinner. Maybe get a drink and enjoy the music at Tin Fish or enjoy a girl’s night at Sip and Sparkle. For sure we would need to shop at the Sawgrass Mall and enjoy some wings at Landlubbers or beers Riverside Market.
On our last day we would enjoy breakfast at Rob’s bagel land in Sunrise, head east to get our hair and nails done at Salon Nirvana 954 then enjoy a beautiful dinner then some dancing at the Hard Rock Casino.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to dedicate my shout out to my tribe of amazing women. Some are lifelong friends from high school, young adulthood, college and early in my career. The rest are made up of the amazing women from the Women’s Council at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. These women have kept me going through my darkest seasons;, have helped strengthen me through it all and are my biggest cheerleaders in my seasons of success. I simply would not be where I am today without them.
Obviously, my faith and my family have always been my number shout out for love, encouragement and mentorship.
Finally, I would also love to acknowledge two mentors have guided me to the level of success I am at today, Bill Buchanan for his offbeat type of mentorship that always pushed me to try harder. You never told me what I wanted to hear but always followed it up with encouragement. And Meredith Ray Feder, CFRE who continuously pushes me to know my value, talents and what I am actually capable of. Thank you both for all the support!
Linkedin: Vanessa Seltzer
Facebook: Gilda’s Club South Florida
Youtube: Gilda’s Club South Florida
Graciela Valdes Fine Art Photography- Family Photo and Women’s Council Photo Hinds Sight Photography- Gilda’s Club Team Photo
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