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Perhaps it was kismet that soon after Jamie Mager moved from Kansas City to Denver nearly 10 years ago, the American Cancer Society was hiring for an event fundraising position. Although Mager hadn’t worked for a nonprofit, for years she’d been a passionate volunteer for the society’s Relay for Life, first as a team captain and then eventually chairing the entire Kansas City event.
“It was meant to be I guess,” says Mager, who rose through the event fundraising ranks at the American Cancer Society before advancing five years ago to her current role in planned giving.
Her tie to the Society dates back 18 years ago to her freshman year at Kansas State University. Less than a year before, her mother had passed after a six-month battle fighting Adrenal Gland cancer. She heard about Relay for Life and put together a team in her mother’s memory. “That was the biggest source of grief support for me,” she says.
Her involvement continued year after year, including after she graduated with her bachelor’s in personal financial planning and joined a small firm in Kansas City.
Then five years ago, she was able to blend her background in financial planning with her passion for the American Cancer Society with her appointment to the Director for Estate and Gift Planning. “I love talking taxes with people,” she laughingly admits. “I’ll nerd out if they want to.”
She’s equally as zealous about the work of the American Cancer Society. She credits the amazing progress against cancer in the past 18 years in part to the research funded by ACS and praises their services and support for those facing cancer.
Her professional connection to the Society now extends to CPGR. At the CPGR luncheon in January, Mager was announced as this year’s Paul Jonas Emerging Leadership honoree. The award honors the legacy of Paul Jonas, a long-time CPGR member who passed away on October 30, 2015. The award supports an emerging development professional with a strong desire to grow as a charitable gift planner and community leader.
At the luncheon, Mager was excited to meet Jonas’s family and discover that he, too, had worked in planned giving for the American Cancer Society.
She’s looking forward to going through the mentor program again as part of receiving the award. Her first go-around, soon after advancing to her role at the ACS, she was paired with Scott Lumpkin, and although the experience was invaluable, she often didn’t really know what to ask. This year, she’ll be working with Marianne Blackwell and feels she is in a better place to maximize the benefits.
Often, she says, those working in fundraising, and particularly planned giving, need to be reminded that they are doing a good job. She encourages her colleagues to have faith in themselves and to “lean on CPGR to ask questions of what works and what doesn’t.”
“Joining CPGR was the training and education I didn’t know I needed. I think it is a misconception that working for a large organization like ACS, means that we have an infinite number of educational resources,” she says.
A native of Lincoln, Neb., Mager moved to Denver in 2010 after visiting friends here. “There was just something about the lifestyle,” she says. She and her boyfriend, Bryan, enjoy camping and hiking and spending time with their two rescue puppies, Koda and Moose. Mager is also active in the Rotary Club of Denver Southeast, where she’s served as treasurer and participates in many of their service projects including a partnership that provides take-home food for students at Ruby Hill Elementary.